The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan


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

Genre: History

Page Count: 386

Publication Date: 2013

Summary: You probably already know that World War II ended with the atomic bombing of Japan, but have you ever wondered how the United States got to that point?  How were the atomic bombs created? Who were the scientists who discovered nuclear fission? Who worked in the factories in a small town in Tennessee to purify the plutonium and uranium needed to fuel the bombs? This true story follows the lives of the key players (many of them women) who helped set in motion one of the largest scientific discoveries of the century.

Recommended: Yes, particularly if you are interested in World War II or women’s history.  Be sure to check out the interactive links at the end of the book for more pictures and speeches as well as fun book club ideas.

Watch Out For: Racism and Segregation, Government-funded human experiments, two instances of the word “damn”

Noteworthy Excerpts:  “When had Americans ever built a city whose sole purpose had to be kept secret, not only from the outside world but from the vast majority of its own inhabitants?”   “He remembered the Secretary saying that the reason for the Project was to end the war, and to do so ‘more quickly than otherwise would be the case and thus to save American lives.”

Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac


Genre: Historical Fiction

Page Count: 231

Publication Date: 2005

Summary: In the 1920’s and 1930’s, Navajo Indians were sent to boarding schools to learn English and they were forbidden to speak their native language or celebrate their culture.  Fast forward to World War II, when the US Marines needed a code that could not be broken by the Japanese to send important messages from one location to another.  Navajos were recruited by the Marines specifically because their language was complex and hard to learn.  This story goes from reservation boarding school to action-packed war zones in the Pacific theater.

Recommended: Yes! Though it was written for young adults, this book will appeal to anyone who likes World War II or historical fiction.

If You’re Offended: Only one instance of the word damn.

Noteworthy Excerpts: “I think it was probably harder for young white men to be abused like that by their drill sergeants than it was for us Navajos. Being Indians, we were used to having white men shout at us and tell us were were worthless and stupid.”    “Once again I heard the sound that is one of the most awful things anyone can hear: the dull thud, between the sound of a slap and a punch, of a bullet hitting the body of a human being.”