The Girls of Atomic City

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

Imagine that your daughter got a job and she couldn’t tell you where she was going to work or what she would be doing when she got there. All you know is that she is going to help her country and work for the government. So your daughter gets on a train to this mystery place and every now and again, you receive letters. But you still don’t know where she is. This may sound like a horror story but it was the reality for 75,000 people at the height of World War II. They left to work in Oak Ridge, Tennessee or “Atomic City,” a makeshift town that existed to help America create the atomic bomb before our enemies could.

To most of the world, this town did not exist and they had no idea what people were doing there. 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.

Drawing on the voices of the women who lived it, The Girls of Atomic City rescues a remarkable, forgotten chapter of American history from obscurity. This important book is the Ela Area Public Library’s One Book, One Reading Community selection for 2015. It reads almost like fiction, as Denise Kiernan has a great way of bringing these stories to life. You will be entertained but also learn a great deal about this period of the history of our country. And for those who commute, the book is excellent on audiobook, too. Pick up a copy at the Ela Area Public Library today.

Leah L. White is the head of popular materials at the Ela Area Public Library in Lake Zurich. Visit for more book recommendations.