The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

This book is about Oak Ridge, a government city created from bare Tennessee clay, where much of the Uranium for the atomic bombs was enriched. The book shoots for an everyday worker’s point of view, which is tricky given how secret the project was–most people had no idea what their job was doing, much less what the process overall was supposed to accomplish.

It’s a good story, well told. The chapters alternate between “the girls”–a set of six or so women in various roles and their efforts, and a “big picture” chapter where some aspect of the overall Manhattan Project is laid out in more detail.

It doesn’t have the narrative hooks of a story, particularly since it’s a three year slice of their lives and the only “endings” were marriages for some of the workers. In the end, it’s a good book, well written, about the back end of a crazy complex and sprawling project.

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

This book is about Oak Ridge, a government city created from bare Tennessee clay, where much of the Uranium for the atomic bombs was enriched. The book shoots for an everyday worker’s point of view, which is tricky given how secret the project was–most people had no idea what their job was doing, much less what the process overall was supposed to accomplish.

It’s a good story, well told. The chapters alternate between “the girls”–a set of six or so women in various roles and their efforts, and a “big picture” chapter where some aspect of the overall Manhattan Project is laid out in more detail.

It doesn’t have the narrative hooks of a story, particularly since it’s a three year slice of their lives and the only “endings” were marriages for some of the workers. In the end, it’s a good book, well written, about the back end of a crazy complex and sprawling project.

Ancilliary Justice and Angel Falls

Now that I’ve finished the Wheel of Time, I can finally get to all of the cool books that I got for Christmas.

One of my most anticipated was Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. It’s a pretty far future book; told from the point of view of a ship wide intelligence that operates ancillaries. The book really worked for me. While it’s on the space opera end of the spectrum, One Esk is a character that I can relate to–it’s not all super humans or the force in this future.

The resulting society is interesting too; one interesting parallel was the allusion to Rome and how things became difficult when their engine of conquest ran out of highly lootable enemies on their frontier. This was the first book in a trilogy; I’m eagerly awaiting Ancillary Sword. (Jennifer did run into a problem in reading it; the reviews I’d read talked about the multifaceted character, which set me up to eagerly see how it would be implemented. Jennifer went into it blind and struggled with the novel for several chapters, until the timelines and points of view clarified.)

The second novel was Angel Falls by Michael Paul Gonzalez. It was okay, but was over the top in ways that didn’t work very well for me. The story was interesting, and is probably more interesting with a deeper religious background; the characters feel a little flat, but probably play off of a more detailed view of Eve, Cain, Abel, and such.

In the end, for me it was a read once and pass it on book. Not poorly written–really, it’s what it says on the back cover. I think I just was in a specific mood when I asked for it… and wasn’t in that mindset when I got around to reading it months later.

I’ve just begun The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II. So far it’s a little slow… but I’m still getting to know the characters.