For those of us who enjoy non-fiction writing, there are a couple of engaging and informative works I’d like to share with you this week; works which cover little-known events in history.
The Year Without Summer: 1816 and the Volcano That Darkened the World and Changed History- William K. Klingaman- $27.99
In 1815, Mount Tambora in Indonesia erupted with a fury unseen for almost 2000 years. Black ash and sulfuric acid spread over China and the Indian subcontinent. The authors, a father and son team of William Klingaman (historian) and Nicholas Klingaman (meterologist) begin their recount of events in the winter of 1815-1816, when the toxic aerosol cloud had traveled crop-failure and famine in Europe and the Northern United States. France was already reeling from depleted food stores brought on by the Napoleonic Wars. Many believed the cold, sunless summer of 1816 foretold the end of the world. The British government was more concerned about open rebellion than the deaths caused by starvation. There was mass migration from New England to the Midwest. Snow fell in the summer; some of it traveling as far south as Kentucky. In this sweeping panorama, the Klingamans make note that this was the year Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein, and point out Turner’s dazzling sunsets; sublime artistry inspired by this poisonous cloud. An amazing account of the effects of global climate change.
The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II-Denise Kiernan-$27.00
Everyone recognizes Rosie The Riveter as a symbol of “can-do” womanhood, but few of us know about the women of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. These women unwittingly and unknowingly played a large part in the most crucial moments of World War II.
The Tennessee town of Oak Ridge was created from scratch in 1942. One of the Manhattan Project’s secret cities, it didn’t appear on any maps until 1949, and yet at the height of World War II it was using more electricity than New York City and was home to more than 75,000 people, many of them young women recruited from small towns across the South. Their jobs were shrouded in mystery, but they were buoyed by a sense of shared purpose, close friendships—and a surplus of handsome scientists and Army men!
Against this vibrant wartime backdrop, a darker story was unfolding. The penalty for talking about their work—even the most innocuous details—was job loss and eviction. One woman was recruited to spy on her coworkers. They all knew something big was happening at Oak Ridge, but few could piece together the true nature of their work until the bomb “Little Boy” was dropped over Hiroshima, Japan, and the secret was out. The shocking revelation: the residents of Oak Ridge were enriching uranium for the atomic bomb.
Though the young women originally believed they would leave Oak Ridge after the war, many met husbands there, made lifelong friends, and still call the seventy-year-old town home. The reverberations from their work there—work they didn’t fully understand at the time—are still being felt today. In The Girls of Atomic City, Denise Kiernan traces the astonishing story of these unsung WWII workers through interviews with dozens of surviving women and other Oak Ridge residents.
Help Soulsville Academy
Now, for Soulsville Academy: Take a good look at the following picture. This is a book case at the Soulsville Academy. People, this is unacceptable. Booksellers At Laurelwood is working to remedy this situation. Come in and buy a book for these empty shelves, and we’ll give you 20% off on the price of the book. A few dollars to invest in the future of a child is the best investment you’ll ever make. Period.