The Girls of Atomic City

The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

The Girls of Atomic City

The incredible story of the young women of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, who unwittingly played a crucial role in one of the most significant moments in US history.

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 Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The Girls of Atomic City is a lasting and important addition to our country’s history.
  • Touchstone | 
  • 400 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451617528 | 
  • March 2013
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Video

Denise Kiernan: What Are You Reading?

Writing The Girls of Atomic City required hours in the library. Author Denise Kiernan, escapes from intense research by getting lost in Lee Child thrillers and Margaret Atwood novels.

About the Author

Denise Kiernan
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Denise Kiernan

Denise Kiernan’s previous book, The Girls of Atomic City, is a New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and NPR bestseller, and was named one of Amazon’s Top 100 Best Books of 2013. Kiernan has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Village Voice, Ms. Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Discover, and many more publications. She has also worked in television, serving as head writer for ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire during its Emmy award–winning first season and producing for media outlets such as ESPN and MSNBC. She has been a featured guest on NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” PBS NewsHour, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

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