Denise Kiernan and The Girls of Atomic City at the Festival of Authors, Long Beach, CA #podcast #1/2

It didn’t take much to catch my interest when I read the pitch from Denise Kiernan’s PR people. It was about my favorite time in history (WW2 and beyond) and the topic was multi-faceted along with impeccable research and some killer videos of Denise being interviewed by Jon Stewart! Sold! I had to review the book and also talk to her. Turns out she was coming to my area (relatively speaking) and I got a chance to meet her!

The Girls of Atomic City has been burning up the best seller lists on both coasts and places in between. This historical non-fiction almost reads like fiction but the details are so impeccably researched that you realized that it is history brought to life and light in way that will capture people’s attention who have never seen the depth of emotion or support of a war effort since World War II. The text is vivid and rich with details that you slip into the rhythm of their lives quite easily. Kiernan spent so much of her time researching that she has a wealth of information to share– more than could be put into a book.

Denise Kiernan, photo by Treadshots.

This bit below is how Kiernan starts out her page on her website. Kiernan is a noted author, journalist, TV producer and screenwriter and a a photographer. She juggles astonishingly well.

I tell stories.
Sometimes they’re my own, sometimes they’re not.
Sometimes they’re true, sometimes they’re not.
Sometimes I write them alone, sometimes I don’t.
Sometimes I use words, sometimes I use images.
Some of the projects mentioned on this site are works for hire, others are labors of love.
This site is not comprehensive.
It is intended as an amuse bouche—not an entrée.
There are authors and journalists who focus on one particular topic or style of writing. I am not one of them.
I am building a life, not a platform.
I tell stories.

Podcast: Discussion with Denise Kiernan. Part 1
Due to the length of time of this interview (35 minutes) I chose to split this into 2 parts.

The photo that Kiernan references in the interview that caught her attention.

Here’s why you should read this book: because it’s fascinating real thanks to Kiernan’s amazing research and the stories of all the women. These are the true life stories. You don’t see this everywhere.

The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II
By Denise Kiernan
Touchstone • March 11, 2014 • Trade Paperback • 9781451617535

“Fascinating … Kiernan has amassed a deep reservoir of intimate details of what life was like for women living in the secret city, gleaned from seven years of interviews and research. … Rosie, it turns out, did much more than drive rivets.”
— Washington Post

“This review can’t begin to do justice to the story contained in The Girls of Atomic City. I’m grateful to Denise Kiernan for her research, her journalism and people skills, her stick-to-itiveness- all that she brought to this work of narrative nonfiction to give readers a larger picture than, I believe, has been available to the general audience before…it has taken an astute woman writer to the tell the story in a whole new way.”
— Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“Kiernan’s accounts ring with authenticity… The Girls of Atomic City is fascinating.”
— Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A phenomenal story.”
— Jon Stewart

“In The Girls of Atomic City, Denise Kiernan tells the fascinating story about ordinary women who did the extraordinary…The girls of Atomic City helped to change history; it’s high time their story was told.”

“While telling a fascinating story, Kiernan also captures the complexity of the consequences of the work that the women did. Her multifaceted account sets the experience of each woman within a larger picture and raises larger questions about work and society.”
— Columbus Dispatch

“Denise Kiernan recreates, with cinematic vividness and clarity, the surreal Orwell-meets-Margaret Atwood environment of Oak Ridge.”
— The Daily Beast

“Kiernan…brings a unique and personal perspective to this key part of American history…Instead of the words of top scientists and government officials, Kiernan recounts the experiences of factory workers, secretaries, and low-level chemists…She combines their stories with detailed reporting that provides a clear and compelling picture of this fascinating time.”
— Boston Globe

“Kiernan’s book, the result of seven years of research and interviews with the surviving “girls,” sparkles with their bright, WWII slang and spirit… The Girls of Atomic City brings to light a forgotten chapter in our history that combines a vivid, novelistic story with often troubling science.”
— Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“It’s told in a novelistic style and is an intimate look at the experience of the young women…The result is a compelling retelling of the lives of the “girls of Atomic City.”
— San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review

“Some of [women’s] vital contributions now come to light in an engaging and lively new work… The Girls of Atomic Cityimmediately seizes your attention and causes you to re-examine everything you thought you knew about the Manhattan project, the atomic bomb and the indispensable role women played in World War II.”
— San Antonio Express-News

“Kiernan uses research, interviews, maps and photos to craft what is probably the best account of the Secret City yet written.”
— Baton Rouge Advocate

“Kiernan’s writing is clear, fast-paced and easily understood…If all history books read like novels, which Atomic City does, we’d have a nation of history scholars.”
— Omaha World-Herald

“ The Girls of Atomic City is an expose and a fascinating story of a secret town…Kiernan gently raises questions that continue to haunt us today.”
— Knoxville News Sentinel

“This intimate and revealing glimpse into one of the most important scientific developments in history will appeal to a broad audience.”
— Publishers Weekly

“ The Girls of Atomic City details a story that seems impossible yet was true. Author Denise Kiernan brings a novelist’s voice to her thoroughly researched look at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.”
— Book Page

About the book
THE GIRLS OF ATOMIC CITY was hailed by top media outlets as “fascinating” and “a phenomenal story” when it was first published earlier this year. It hit The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times Best Seller lists, made Amazon’s Top 100 Best Books of 2013 and is currently nominated for the Goodreads Choice, Best Book of 2013 in History and Biography.
Author and journalist Denise Kiernan also received high praise for her “cinematic vividness” and “marvelous” reporting. She appeared on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” PBS “Newshour,” MSNBC “Morning Joe,” and National Public Radio.
AT THE HEIGHT OF WORLD WAR II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was home to 75,000 residents, consuming more electricity than New York City. But to most of the world, the town did not exist. Thousands of civilians—many of them young women from small towns across the South—were recruited to this secret city, enticed by solid wages and the promise of war-ending work. Kept very much in the dark, few would ever guess the true nature of the tasks they performed each day in the hulking factories in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains. That is, until the end of the war—when Oak Ridge’s secret was revealed.

Drawing on the voices of the women who lived it—women who are now in their eighties and nineties— The Girls of Atomic City rescues a remarkable, forgotten chapter of American history from obscurity. Denise Kiernan captures the spirit of the times through these women: their pluck, their desire to contribute, and their enduring courage. Combining the grand-scale human drama of The Worst Hard Time with the intimate biography and often troubling science of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The Girls of Atomic City is a lasting and important addition to our country’s history.

About Denise Kiernan
Denise Kiernan has been working as a writer for nearly 20 years. She has been published in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Village Voice, Ms. Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Discover and many more publications. She has also worked in television, serving as head writer for ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” during its Emmy award-winning first season and producing for places such as ESPN and MSNBC. She has authored several popular history titles including Signing Their Lives Away, Signing Their Rights Away and Stuff Every American Should Know.

Her most recent book, The Girls of Atomic City, is a New York Times, Los Angeles Times and NPR Bestseller. As an author, Denise has been featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition, PRI’s The Takeaway, PBS NewsHour, and in numerous newspapers and magazines, and she was recently named to the board of the Atomic Heritage Foundation.

Follow Denise Kiernan on these social media platforms:

Buy this book at these locations and so many more!

Barnes and Noble

BAM (Books A Million)

Indie Bound

Malaprops — for autographed copies!

Powells’s Books




This is just part 1 of a 2 part interview of The Girls of Atomic City author, Denise Kiernan.
Please check back on Saturday to see part 2!

Thank you Denise Kiernan for your patience with this interview. It was a real treat to meet you. Hope to see you out here on the west coast again soon!

Stevie Wilson,

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Author: Stevie Wilson

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