Their average age was twenty-five. They came from Berkeley, Cambridge, Paris, London, Chicago - and arrived in New Mexico ready for adventure, or at least resigned to it. But hope quickly turned to hardship as they were forced to adapt to a rugged military town where everything was a secret, including what their husbands were doing at the lab. They lived in barely finished houses with P.O. box addresses in a town wreathed with barbed wire, all for the benefit of a project that didn't exist as far as the public knew. Though they were strangers, they joined together - adapting to a landscape as fierce as it was absorbing, full of the banalities of everyday life and the drama of scientific discovery.
And while the bomb was being invented, babies were born, friendships were forged, children grew up, and Los Alamos gradually transformed from an abandoned school on a hill into a real community: one that was strained by the words they couldn't say out loud, the letters they couldn't send home, the freedom they didn't have. But the end of the war would bring even bigger challenges to the people of Los Alamos, as the scientists and their families struggled with the burden of their contribution to the most destructive force in the history of mankind.
The Wives of Los Alamos is a novel that sheds light onto one of the strangest and most monumental research projects in modern history. It's a testament to a remarkable group of women who carved out a life for themselves, in spite of the chaos of the war and the shroud of intense secrecy.
Over the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, the Pacific, the Arctic, the Atlantic; in sewers, in trenches, on the ocean, in the sky: there was a war going on. Sometimes it seemed far away, barely happening, but then a mother or a wife placed a gold star in her living room window her brother, her husband, her son, our neighbor and the war became personal. It was March, gas was rationed; therefore the streets were quiet. We heard a car pull up in the driveway. We wiped our hands on our apron and placed the apron on the dishes. The doorbell rang and a young man, just slightly older than our husbands, about thirty-five, stood on our porch in a porkpie hat and asked whether the professor was home. His eyes were the color of stillness something between a pale body of water and the fog that emerges above it. Although dinner was almost ready our house was chilly we could not turn on the gas heater and we invited him in but felt embarrassed by the cold. Our ...
The Wives of Los Alamos is a provocative novel that boldly re-imagines one of the most monumental periods in our history from an original — and long neglected— women's point of view.
(Reviewed by Suzanne Reeder).
Full Review (1146 words).
During World War II an isolated area in the American Southwest became the primary research and development site for the creation of the most destructive force in human history. As part of the Allied mission to vanquish the threat of the German nuclear development program, scientists and engineers built the atomic bomb in Los Alamos, New Mexico. This top-secret endeavor had a code name: the Manhattan Project, which TaraShea Nesbit explores from a collective women's point of view in her debut novel The Wives of Los Alamos. The project received its code name in late 1941. The term came about because the program started under the Manhattan Engineering District of the War Department.
Before the Los Alamos site was chosen, research was ...
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