Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women who helped win World War II


Today's post is on The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women who helped win World War II by Denise Kiernan. It is 371 pages long including notes and index. It is published by Simon & Schuster. The cover is a picture of Oak Ridge with women walking towards the camera. The intended reader is someone who is interested in women's history, forgotten history, and World War II. There is no language, no violence, and no sex in this book; any one interested in the topic can read this. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- At the height of World War II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was home to 75,000 residents, consuming more electricity than New York City. But to most of the world, the town did not exist. Thousands of civilians- many of them young women from small towns across the South- were recruited to this secret city, enticed by solid wages and the promise of war-ending work. Kept very much in the dark, few would ever guess the true nature of the tasks they performed each day in the hulking factories in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains. That is, until the end of the war- when Oak Ridge's secret was revealed.
Drawing on the voices of the women who lived it- women who are now in their eighties and nineties- The Girls of Atomic City rescues a remarkable, forgotten chapter of American history from obscurity. Denise Kiernan captures the spirit of the times through these women: their pluck, their desire to contribute, and their enduring courage. Combining the grand-scale human drama of The Worst Hard Time with the intimate biography and often troubling science of The Immoral Life of Henrietta Lacks, The Girls of Atomic City is a lasting and important addition to our country's history.

Review- The book does a lot right and wrong. The right is the facts about the women who lived, worked, and helped win the war. The wrong is the writing. The story at times was so very interesting but the writing was so dry. It was an act of discipline to finish this book. Kiernan takes what should have been interesting history and makes it boring. The stories of the women are told from the moment they are recruited to come work until the end of the war. It talked about why they wanted to help, brothers/fathers in the war, wanting more from life from marriage and children, or just needing the money. Kiernan writes about the women who helped discover plutonium and were 'forgotten' by the Nobel prize society. She talks about the women who cleaned the offices and other rooms. She does not hold back from the questionable things that happened to make the bomb happen and she talks about the human cost of the bomb itself. It should have been wonderful but it was so boring. The writing was just so dry that I will not read another thing by her.

I give this book a Two out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.