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Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan


"The Girls of Atomic City" is a fascinating look at the lives of women recruited to work at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, part of the Clinton Engineer Works during World War II. It was fascinating to learn that many of these women did not know where they were going or what they would be doing when they were recruited to work in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Many of these women were right out of high school and from the south. They were housed in dormitories, apartments or huts. The construction went up so quickly that there was constantly mud all over on the ground. At the height of World War II, Oak Ridge, was home to 75,000 residents and consumed more electricity that New York City.

Inserted between the chapters is some more technical information about the discovery of fission and the possibility of creating a bomb using plutonium. Interestingly, the first scientist to mention the possibility of fission was a woman although she did not get credit for that discovery. After watching the movie, "Fat Man and Little Boy," which was about the Manhatten Project and the development of the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, I was interested to read this book. The scientists at Los Alamos were waiting on the production of plutonium at Oak Ridge for them to create the atomic bomb that was first dropped on Hiroshima in August of 1945.

Some of the technical information was beyond me, but I enjoyed first hand accounts of the lives of the women who worked at Oak Ridge. The author interviewed a number of women who shared their experiences. It was very interesting and an important part of the history of all that went into the creation of the first atomic bomb. If you are interested in this topic, I would highly recommend this book.

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