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Publisher 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 and brilliant as it is compulsively readable.” —Karen Abbott, author of Sin in the Second City

At the height of World War II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was home to 75,000 residents, and consumed more electricity than New York City, yet it was shrouded in such secrecy that it did not appear on any map. Thousands of civilians, many of them young women from small towns across the U.S., were recruited to this secret city, enticed by the promise of solid wages and war-ending work. What were they actually doing there? Very few knew. The purpose of this mysterious government project was kept a secret from the outside world and from the majority of the residents themselves. Some wondered why, despite the constant work and round-the-clock activity in this makeshift town, did no tangible product of any kind ever seem to leave its guarded gates? The women who kept this town running would find out at the end of the war, when Oak Ridge’s secret was revealed and changed the world forever.

Drawing from the voices and experiences of the women who lived and worked in Oak Ridge, The Girls of Atomic City rescues a remarkable, forgotten chapter of World War II from obscurity. Denise Kiernan captures the spirit of the times through these women: their pluck, their desire to contribute, and their enduring courage. “A phenomenal story,” and Publishers Weekly called it an “intimate and revealing glimpse into one of the most important scientific developments in history.”

“Kiernan has amassed a deep reservoir of intimate details of what life was like for women living in the secret city...Rosie, it turns out, did much more than drive rivets.” —The Washington Post

Biographies & Memoirs
March 5
Atria Books

Customer Reviews


The Determination Women Played Winning World War II.

A true life story in detail of the sacrifices women made to end War II to bring their loved ones home in one piece. Even though they worked in secrecy, they never questioned their duty to their country and their loved ones.

howelldc ,

Really good book

Having been to Oak Ridge many times since 1989 and working in radiation safety, I thoroughly enjoyed this book...many thanks to the fine ladies who toiled and helped win the war, my hat's off to you...great research and I learned a thing or two, good job!

Atomic reader ,

Great Read!

Kiernan does a fantastic job of illustrating the stress of WWII by taking the reader there. She tells the stories of six very different women that all unwittingly had a hand in creating the atomic bomb, "Little Boy". I love how she clarifies all of the scientific, historical and human aspects of the time period. Her writing style is more narrative than expository making the concepts easy to understand. Kiernan also makes a point to compartmentalize her writing in the same manner her subject matter was. This creates the tense air of secrecy described by the women. This is a great book for people who want to learn about WWII but either aren't used blunt historical texts or don't know much about the time period. I definitely recommend reading it.

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