Friday, May 11, 2012

The Oak Ridge Story

I'm currently re-reading a book I first read more than 40 years ago. The Oak Ridge Story, by George O. (Gus) Robinson, Jr., was first published in 1950. Robinson had been the Public Information Officer for the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge. It was he who had been tasked with writing the first news releases following the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that introduced atomic energy to the world. Published just five years later, this telling communicates much of the newness of the technology. Written at the onset of the Atoms for Peace program, and long before Three-Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima, the tone sometimes tends toward awe, and Gee-Whiz. But it remains an important source, written by someone who was there throughout the war.

When we first went to Oak Ridge in 1968, The Oak Ridge Story was eagerly being read by all newcomers to the town. One could check out a copy from the public library. Soon the book was out of print and the library could no longer bear the constant loss of copies, so it was put on permanent reserve. One could read it in the library, but it no longer circulated. Fortunately, the book has been reprinted by the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association. It can be ordered on-line from The American Museum of Science and Energy. Go to their Gift Shop page and click on Science & History Books. They also offer a great selection of books on the Manhattan Project. And if you're ever near Oak Ridge, the museum is well worth a visit. During the summer, they also offer a limited tour of the nuclear facilities, including a visit to the historic Graphite Reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.


  1. This is so interesting because I had always thought the Manhattan Project was connected with Los Alamos, and have never really heard of Oak Ridge before. When I get a few extra bucks I'll have to order the book. Meanwhile, I'm still reading "She Walks These Hills" but am about half way through. It is indeed a good book.

  2. Thanks for sharing on how to obtain a copy of the Oakridge Story. My father worked at Oakridge during this time and told us later about it.