Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Glimpse of Life at Los Alamos During the Manhattan Project


The wives were not usually scientists, although a few were. They followed their physicist and chemist husbands to an unknown destination to work on a project their husbands couldn't discuss. In spite of the hardships, they formed a community, raised their children, supported their husbands, and in the end felt part of a great undertaking, whether they believed in the good of the outcome or not.

This is a fascinating book showing a piece of history that doesn't get reported in most accounts of the Manhattan Project. I had read about the Los Alamos project from the standpoint of several of the scientists, but I had never really though about what it would be like to be one of the wives. This book draws the picture of the diverse group of women who followed their husbands to an outpost in the desert and learned how to cope with a life style that was much different from the academic backgrounds most of them came from.

The book is written in first person plural, a unique choice, but one I found appropriate for describing the diversity of this group of women. For the first few pages I did wonder why the women were living in the same house, but after I realized that it was the author's way of telling the story of a large group, I got more comfortable with it.

If you enjoy history, are fascinated by the Manhattan Project, or wonder what it was like to live in a community of women in the 1940s, you like this book: I did.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.