The Girls of Atomic City


I think I have mentioned it before but I was not really a nonfiction reader until I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed. After reading that I was pulled towards the non-fiction section of the bookstore more often. I have found a theme though. I tend to purchase inspiring books about kick-ass women. This is one of those books.

The Girls of Atomic City tells the story of all the young women who went to work in Oak Ridge, Tennessee to work on a secret project for the government. All they knew was that they would have a place to live, would get paid better than most other places, and that whatever it was they were working on would help end World War II. It focuses on women who worked at various levels of the project from secretaries to factory workers to chemists. No one knew what they were working on until the moment came. The book does not just focus on the work they put into the project though but also how these young women created a town from a military base.

I really liked the science aspects of the book. I am studying science in college right now so I am a little biased towards liking it more but I think she wrote it in such a way that most people would like it as well. I learned a lot about all the women that played a role in the science aspect of World War II. In history classes they teach you about how women took over the men’s jobs however they do not really focus on the science parts that women played a part in. They weren’t huge parts but the women were still there to help lead the way to one of history’s greatest scientific breakthroughs.

I absolutely loved the women in this book. They were all so inspiring and charming. Each of them had come to Oak Ridge for the main goal of putting an end to the war but they all had so many different smaller reasons. It was amazing to see how easily they adapted to this new environment. They were able to turn this boring and simple military base into a town that is still standing today. It was also so interesting to see how they were able to bond with each other. No one was allowed to talk about their job and what they did with anyone else. Sometimes not even their superiors. Everything was a secret. And yet these women formed lasting friendships. Most even found love and got married and had children.

I did not really like how rushed the ending felt. It did not focus a lot on what happened to women afterwards. It did discuss their opinions after immediately finding out what it really was they had been working on but I would have liked to know what they think now all these years later and seeing where we have gone with atomic power.

This book was so inspiring, especially since I am pursuing a career in science. I think this book is great if you are feeling stuck and want the push to get you going. I loved it.

Rating: 10/10


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