Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan

Much has been written about World War II, but Denise Kiernan’s The Girls of Atomic City sheds light on a little know group of women who made tremendous sacrifices during that war. The town of  Oak Ridge Tennessee was created 1942, from the ground up; solely for the purpose of assisting with the Manhattan Project. By the end of the war it was home to more than 75,000 people - most of whom had no idea what they were doing there.

Many of the residents were young women recruited from the surrounding small towns, drawn by the promise of good pay and cheap housing. The living conditions were deplorable and privacy was almost unheard of, but it was the secrecy that was the most difficult.  Telling one’s  family where you were or what you were doing was not allowed, and mail was strictly censored. It wasn’t until the bomb “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, that the residents began to realise what exactly they were doing: enriching uranium for use in atomic bombs.  

Oak Ridge didn’t appear on any maps until 1949; four years after the bombs were dropped. This temporary town however still exists 70 years later, and many of its founding residents still live in Oak Ridge. This book reveals how a small group of women did their part for the war effort.

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