The Girls of Atomic City

By Denise Kiernan,

Book cover of The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

Book description

The New York Times bestseller, now available in paperback—an incredible true story of the top-secret World War II town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the young women brought there unknowingly to help build the atomic bomb.

“The best kind of nonfiction: marvelously reported, fluidly written, and a remarkable story...As meticulous…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked The Girls of Atomic City as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

My friend Denise Kiernan shines a light on the thousands of women who worked on the Manhattan Project.

If you’ve seen Oppenheimer and you’re interested in the story behind the development of the atomic bomb, then this book will help you understand the hidden figures behind its creation. What I love the most about Denise’s writing is the way that she brings the mysterious origins of Oak Ridge, a Tennessee town created to house the people working on the bomb, to life. 

At a time when the stakes couldn’t have been higher, women were at the center of the story.

A New York Times bestseller, this incredible true story tells about the top-secret World War II town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the young women brought there unknowingly to help build the atomic bomb. While in college in Eastern Kentucky, I was well-acquainted with a man who had worked at Oak Ridge, so I was especially interested in Kiernan’s story. I became aware of this book while writing my novel.

From Merrill's list on how women helped win World War II.

This is a wonderfully written book about the women workers in Oak Ridge, TN, one of the Manhattan Project’s secret cities. I am proud of the women who were an intricate part of this top-secret site—from chemists and accountants to workers in machine shops and chemical processing—and how their strength and commitment enabled them to make the contribution they did under the dark cloud of secrecy and in harsh and substandard conditions. They could not share or know what their spouses and friends did—and often had no idea what they were doing. The system hid much from them. The author’s…

From Angela's list on women of courage and strength.

Denise Kiernan unearths the story of a group of young women during World War II—some with scientific training, but most with only a vague idea of wanting to help the war effort—who had the courage to leave their small towns and farms and move to the secret, newly-created town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Kept in the dark about what they were doing, which was enriching uranium for the atomic bomb, they were threatened with firing if they even spoke about their work. It was only after the atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima that the women learned they had been part…

I’ve long been a fan of Denise Kiernan’s work, which is as scrupulously researched as it is beautifully written. The Girls of Atomic City is about Oak Ridge, Tennessee during World War II, and how women became a central force in building community in this town that didn’t exist before the war, and among people who moved here and many times didn’t know what a crucial, but secret, project they were working on. The town may not have been on a map, but it would soon be after the uranium unknowingly mined there by female calutron operators wound up being…

From Paige's list on women in STEM.

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