Monday, February 24, 2014

Jackie's Impressed With This Debut Novel, and Invites You To Meet The Author Tomorrow Night

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.
Jackie says:
"I've never read a book like this.  It's done in straight on point of view, but in a collective.  The entire book was 'We did this. We learned this.  We rarely saw our husbands.  We tried to make this muddy and unpleasant into a home. We were kept completely in the dark. They had to change their names and become someone else.  Los Alamos was a city with barbed wire surrounding it, started by a handful of people but ending up with thousands.  There was a military presence as well as a lay scientific group (the husbands and a handful of women in the labs).  The wives took turns being the teachers, the babysitters, trying to raise a family in this place of little explanation.  No one there could tell their extended family and friends where they went or why they couldn't visit.   It was years before grandparents, aunts and uncles got to see their new family members born at Los Alamos (they didn't even know the name or even the state their family had been whisked out to--all they could say is 'we're in the west').  Everything was monitored and rationed.  This is a very interesting book about an era that has been kept quiet since it was first conceived.  It's a window into a not so free United States and what genius can do for the world and to individuals."

The event is free and open to the public.   

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