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The Girls of Atomic City

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

2:58pm, May 16, 2013

In late 1942, less than a year after Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government began snapping up property in eastern Tennessee. Within a matter of months, approximately 59,000 acres of farms and orchards, homesteads and hovels just south of the Black Oak Ridge hosted immense construction sites that became the home of supersecret facilities used to enrich uranium for the Manhattan Project. Kiernan chronicles the fascinating lives of some of the young women who lived and worked in this fenced-in town, helping to develop the first atomic bombs.

At its wartime peak, the largely self-contained Oak Ridge community housed about 75,000 people but used more electricity than New York City.

It employed a diverse workforce that included janitors, administrators, chemists and statisticians, many of them female because men were off at war. But unlike Rosie the Riveter, who could

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