Friday, September 26, 2014

THE CEPHALOPOD COFFEEHOUSE: THE GIRLS OF ATOMIC CITY

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

It's time for this month's Cephalopod Coffeehouse.

The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers.

To join us or to visit other participants, please click on The Armchair Squid, the blogger who is the host with the most. Here we go:

My book for this month is The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story Of The Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan.

I've heard of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, but I had no idea that it sprang from nowhere during World War II so that workers who were recruited--and eventually it was home to 75,000 residents--could do their part to help build the atomic bomb. The majority of these government employees did not know what they were doing. They were told not to talk about their work, not even with each other.






This book is filled with interesting facts, yet Kiernan's relaxed writing style makes it easy to read. I love all the anecdotes told by people who worked in Oak Ridge. I felt as if I could put myself in their places and feel what it was like to be there.

I want to let Kiernan tell you about her book herself:






The book has some sad stories, too, particularly regarding segregation. The workers of color had to live in their own area, usually in "hutments." I was appalled, but not terribly surprised, to learn that one black male employee who was injured in a car accident was injected with uranium. Someone wanted to study what would happen to him. The bones broken in the accident weren't set for days while he was injected and samples were taken from him. Many who worked on The Manhattan Project also suffered from feelings of guilt after the bombs were dropped.

I enjoy history, especially about World War II, and although this book is about "the girls of atomic city," information about plenty of men is included, too.

Oak Ridge still exists. The population has decreased, but remnants of the original city can be seen. A permanent exhibit about the town's part in the war is there. I don't know if it would be worth visiting. It doesn't really matter. I'm not going anywhere. But Kiernan intrigues me with this book and makes me want to learn more.

I purchased my copy of the book from Amazon at http://goo.gl/GsgLsR.

The Girls of Atomic City earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Approval, and as promised, it has historical ties to the movie I reviewed yesterday, Infinity (click on the title of the movie to read my review).

Happy reading! Thank you, Armchair Squid.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

42 comments:

  1. I'll look for it at the library. I'm strangely fasinated (and disgusted) by The Holocaust, as well as a few other things (The Winchester House, Salem, New Orleans, I think there is a trend here). I love learning about things like that but I hate text books. I want something that can make me feel, not fall asleep.

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  2. Hi, Janie! This is an excellent subject for a book. Mrs. Shady is a WWII buff and I will definitely let her know about The Girls of Atomic City. I wonder how many of those high school grads would have turned down that Oak Ridge job had they known in advance they were helping to make a weapon of mass destruction. Would you? I have mixed feelings - pride in Americans for pulling together to help their country in a time of war - shame for the practice of segregation which was still deemed necessary at the time - and regret over the lives lost as a result of this work.

    Thank you, dear Janie, and have a wonderful weekend!

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    1. I suspect many of them would have taken the job anyway. They were pulling together for the war effort, and it was good pay. They needed the jobs.

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  3. Oak Ridge! The Secret City! It has a fascinating history - and I'm about fifteen miles from it. I'd also go so far as to say that more and more "fascinating history" is discovered every day.

    If you're ever in the neighborhood, they have a great museum with artifacts from that time.

    Thanks, Janie - and Squid!

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    1. If I ever get to visit (I won't) and I show up at your door, will you hide and pretend you're not at home? You don't have to worry. I seldom go farther than the grocery store.

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  4. Great review Janie. It sounds like a powerful book!
    Thanks for sharing,
    Veronica

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  5. Janie, I'm going to look this one up....love stories of strong women in important roles.

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    1. These women slogged through the mud and lived in crowded quarters and sent money home to their families.

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  6. Thanks for the book post. Sadly, I can only read the comics and People these days. I don't know what my problem is . . .

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    1. This, too, shall pass. Try reading a young adult book, maybe?

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  7. Now, you are in my "neck of the woods!" While I did not grow up in Oak Ridge, it was just a very few miles from where I was, and Sunday afternoon drives would only get us as far as the gate. We didn't have the clearance card to go further, as my father was not an employee there. Perhaps someday you'll plan a trip to this part of the country, and you will be able to enjoy the museums that tell the story so well.

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    1. I would love to visit, but I see the world from the chair in my house.

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  8. I've been enjoying "Manhattan" on TV and this book would round out the topic of building that first atomic bomb. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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  9. Every time I see this book title I think it's about Los Alamos, where the Manhattan Project took place. I was raised in Los Alamos and still think of it as "The Atomic City." I keep forgetting there was another one. I should read this book!

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    1. What was it like to grow up in Los Alamos? X applied there, but (praise God) never got hired.

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  10. Thanks for the book tip! This looks really fantastic. My favorite reads these days are (surprise!) humor essays. The best book I've read in the past month is Sara Barron's "The Harm in Asking: My Clumsy Encounters With the Human Race."

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  11. I think I'd really enjoy this book! I'm adding it to my list.

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  12. Ummm...my hubby lived in Oak Ridge in the 80s. He worked for Science Applications and he had clearance to go and do stuff at that "government place thing." It was all hush-hush, even then. Weird. I'll have to ask him about it again.

    -andi

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  13. I actually profiled this book for the Cephalopod Coffeehouse--last June, I believe. Excellent choice!

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    1. You beat me to it. Good book, isn't it?

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  14. This month, Janie, I finished 'Watership Down'. I totally enjoyed every single page of it! Loved the less than subtle similarities to us humans.

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    1. I've heard of that book but never read it. Now I'm intrigued.

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  15. What a strange glimpse of a very strange time. Once again, WWII proves to be the endless treasure trove of stories.

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    1. Information continues to come to light.

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    2. Absolutely. It is the war that shaped the modern world, for better and for worse.

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  16. Oh it is a book I would love to read..................it looks so interesting

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    1. With your interest in U.S. history, you would love it.

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  17. Thank you for sharing this!!! My husband grew up in Oak Ridge and his mom worked at the plant. I'm going to have to get this one for her.

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    1. Stephanie, you should get an oral history from her or ask her to write about her memories. That's so cool.

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    2. You should also get your husband to write and talk about what it was like to grow up there.

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  18. I thoroughly enjoy history and wonder if World War ONE wasn't the time when the world pushed itself off the top of the slide and began in motion where we are today (although the atomic bomb didn't help matters).
    Although a case could be made that mankind has been out of its mind since it first dropped from the trees. Oh, now I'm depressed.
    Thank goodness it's National Drink Beer day.

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    1. Well, WWI is considered the beginning of the Modern Period, or more likely, post-WWI. Drink a beer for me, and don't forget to drink for Willy Dunne Wooters.

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  19. Sounds very interesting, indeed!
    Though I really needed a job and the pay was great I refused to apply at a plant that was making parts for aircraft during the Vietnam War. I can imagine that, despite WWII being a very popular war, workers could have felt guilty having unknowingly contributed to such horrendous death as never seen before.
    Would you love for Ken Burns to do something with this?! ;)

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    1. I loved the series Ken Burns did about WWII (I think it's called The War), but I'd love to see him really zero in on how the war changed women's lives. Are you watching his new series about the Roosevelts? I have it on my DVR and haven't started yet. I still have The Bletchley Circle on the DVR! I don't spend enough time watching TV. I'm too lazy.

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  20. Fabulous. I feel like I'm looking at a picture of my grandmother when I see that clip of the women. She was a World War II beauty, and a strong, amazing woman who helped in her own ways. This looks like a great book, and I will be checking it out!

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    1. What great memories of your grandmother. I hope you enjoy the book.

      Love,
      Janie

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