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Bloomsbury USA
240 pages
Product Description
<DIV>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. <br/><br/>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.<br/><br/><I>The Wives of Los Alamos</I> 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.</div>
Bloomsbury USA
240 pages
Amazon.com Review
<div class="aplus"> <h4>Amazon Q&A with TaraShea Nesbit, author of <em>The Wives of Los Alamos.</em> </h4> <div class="rightImage" style="width: 200px;"> <a><img alt="TaraShea Nesbit" height="250" src="http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/hopub/ems/images/title/wives/tarasheanesbit.jpg" width="200"/></div> <p><b>1.</b> What drew you to the “wives” and Los Alamos during this time period? </p> <p><b>TaraShea Nesbit</b>: My fascination with the history of the atomic bomb started with learning about a high school in eastern Washington who has an atomic bomber as their mascot and then I researched nuclear waste, and I just kept going back and back to the source of the bomb. Though I read about the lead scientists, even more interesting to me was to think of what life was like for their educated, newly married wives who followed their husbands to an unknown location in New Mexico. I wanted to know these women and be their friend and make more space in the world for their voices. </p> <p><b>2.</b> What do you hope readers take away from <i>The Wives of Los Alamos</i>? </p> <p><b>TSN</b>: I hope the book adds complexity to readers’ understanding of the 1940s and atomic bomb history, while encouraging them to seek out more information. I want readers to enjoy spending time in the environment the book created, and it would be great if readers notice parallels between these women and that time and the present day.</p> <p><b>3.</b> What do you enjoy reading and writing about historical fiction? </p> <p><b>TSN</b>: In historical fiction, the clock of time has stopped, at least for a little while, and I get to see, in slow motion, what experiences were co-existing. Another thrill is how much historical fiction actually reveals about the time period with which it is written—the preoccupations and focuses of revisionist history, for example, shift as our contemporary moment shifts. I love that historical fiction enables a reader to both inhabit a world of the past as well as the consciousness of an author.</p> <p><b>4.</b> What are some books that have influenced you as a writer? </p> <p><b>TSN</b>: Virginia Woolf’s <i>Orlando</i>, Patrik Ouředník’s Europeana's <i>A Brief History of the Twentieth Century</i>, Studs Turkel’s <i>What Work Is</i>, Claudia Rankine’s <i>Don’t Let Me Be Lonely</i>, Michael Ondaatje’s <i>Coming Through Slaughter</i>, Julianna Spahr’s <i>The Transformation</i>, Tove Jansson’s <i>The Summer Book</i>, Jennifer Denrow's <i>California</i>, and the "Mr. Bridge and Mrs. Bridge" books by Evan S. Connell. </p> <h4>Discussion Questions for <em>The Wives of Los Alamos.</em> </h4> <p><b>1.</b> <i>The Wives of Los Alamos</i> is narrated in first person plural. While individual women are mentioned, the wives speak as a group. How does this affect your understanding of them and their story? Do you come to know any of them as individuals? What was your emotional response to this stylistic choice? </p> <p><b>2.</b> From the very beginning, the town of Los Alamos is one defined by secrets. Who is keeping information secret from whom? What type of information does each group within the community have access to and how does that information give them power? </p> <p><b>3.</b> The wives of Los Alamos are often pregnant, their families steadily growing. What does it mean to be a mother in this community? What do you think it would be like to grow up in that environment, only to move back into the world after the bombs had been dropped?</p> <p><b>4.</b> The wives have very different responses to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What are those responses? Are you able to relate to all of them, or are there some you have trouble understanding?</p> <p><b>5.</b> As the community of Los Alamos disperses, the wives observe: “Saying good-bye to our friends was not just saying good-bye to them, we were saying good-bye to part of ourselves” (207). What are they leaving behind as they leave Los Alamos? How has this experience changed them?</p> <div class="half-col"> <em><img alt="The Wives of Los Alamos" height="180" src="http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/hopub/ems/images/title/wives/WivesofLos-Alamos3creditLosAlamosHistoricalSocietyArchives.amz.jpg" width="285" /> </em> <div class="imageCaption"><p><em>The original wives of Los Alamos. Photo Credit: Los Alamos Historical Society Archives</em></p></div></div> <div class="half-col last"> <em><img alt="The Wives of Los Alamos" height="180" src="http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/hopub/ems/images/title/wives/WivesofLos-Alamos2creditLos-AlamosHistoricalSocietyArchives.amz.jpg" width="285" /> </em> <div class="imageCaption"><p><em>The town of Los Alamos. Photo Credit: Los Alamos Historical Society Archives</em></p></div></div> </div>
Bloomsbury USA
240 pages
Amazon.com Review
<p><strong>An Amazon Best Book of the Month, February 2014:</strong> Written in the first person plural--the collective “we”--TaraShea Nesbit’s debut is both understated and poetic as it describes the lives of the women who accompanied their scientist husbands to the American desert to work on a secret project that turned out to be the making of the atomic bomb. “We were Western women born in California and Montana, East Coast women born in Connecticut and New York, Midwestern women born in Nebraska and Ohio. . .” Nesbit writes, and so they were: all different, of course, and yet much the same as they came to bear and raise children, and make lives in a dangerous and secretive time and place. What was it like to be attached to a project you weren’t allowed any knowledge of? How did such a world-changing invention change you, your marriage, your family? These are the questions Nesbit tackles in this stunning novel, both concise and elliptical. In style, it echoes Julie Otsuka’s <em>When the Emperor Was Divine</em> (also a first-person-plural account, of the Japanese internment in WWII.) Also like that book, it sheds light on historical events too rarely discussed in literature. This debut is a tour-de-force, in a quiet, careful and winning way. <em>--Sara Nelson</em></p>