Denise Kiernan’s fascinating and meticulously researched new book proves that if you want to get at the heart of any historic event, go ask the women who were there. In The Girls of Atomic City she tells the stories of women, now in their eighties and nineties, who worked in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, on The Manhattan Project without their knowledge. Unthinkable? Apparently not. Many of these women were recent high school graduates. Some of them were put to work enriching uranium. Others showed up every day to use blowtorches and Geiger counters. None of them knew the reality of their jobs until nuclear bombs began dropping overseas. In this sharp, compelling narrative Kiernan examines the courage of young women so eager to help with the war effort that they boarded trains from all over the country and went to work jobs that they could never ask questions about. But she also investigates the science itself, often troubling, but always astonishing in scope and achievement. As it turns out, the girls of atomic city, played no small part in winning WWII.
A socialite. A widow. An abolitionist. And a soldier. These women fought on different sides of the Civil War and were compelled by different motives but they all had one thing in common: their involvement was very much forbidden. Whether wielding their skills in the bedroom or on the battlefield, in the parlor or by post, each of them risked everything for their cause. Abbott’s impeccable research and narrative skill turns the bloodiest war in America’s history into an intimate page-turner. Gripping. Eloquent. Accessible. It reads like a novel but packs the punch of a stout biography. Liar Temptress Soldier Spy illuminates one of the hidden corners of history and reveals that women should never be underestimated.
Like every good fairy tale this one is dark and twisted and ultimately tragic. In The Romanov Sisters, Helen Rappaport uses letters, diary entries, and exhaustive research to recreate the lives of the four grand duchesses of Imperial Russia, young women who are often idealized but rarely understood. Theirs was a world ruled by politics and turmoil yet often trivialized by fame and privilege. Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia were the young, beautiful celebrities of their day but they were also the innocent victims of a revolution they could no more understand than control. Rappaport’s scholarship and passion for The Romanov’s is on full display in this book. She brings their world to life and returns the voices of four young women whose lives ended so violently in a basement at Ekaterinburg.
Joan of Arc has fascinated great minds such as Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Voltaire, and George Bernard Shaw. And no wonder. What other peasant girl has gone down in history as the woman who rallied the entire French nation against British invaders? In Joan of Arc: A Life Transfigured Kathryn Harrison tries her hand at answering some of the more fascinating questions about the Maid of Orleans. Was she a saint? Or a heretic? Divinely inspired? Or demon possessed? What were the voices in her mind that drove her passion? Whatever else she may have been, Joan of Arc was a polarizing leader, a woman of faith, a martyr, a legend, and one of the most compelling heroines in human history. And Kathryn Harrison is at her best in the telling of this tale.
One of the more stunning questions asked about F. Scott Fitzgerald lately is this: what if the inspiration for The Great Gatsby was ripped from the headlines? It’s not a thing we tend to think of our literary forefathers doing. But in Sarah Churchwell’s new book, Careless People, she chronicles Scott and Zelda’s glamorous life in New York City during the autumn of 1922 alongside a scandalous double murder that consumed the headlines for years. Careless People is a double narrative exploring not only the high-flying lives of the Fitzgeralds, but also the lurid deaths of Eleanor Mills and Edward Hall. Reading this stunning book, one can’t help but see how the seed for Gatsby could have been germinated within such dark soil.