HC EXCITEMENT: Karen appeared on Fresh Air with Terry Gross and NPR’s marketplace; Harper’s ran a review in their August issue, and the book was a Parade Pick.
RARE GLIMPSE INTO A HIDDEN WORLD: No memoir or popular history has ever taken readers inside China Lake, even though it’s the most important weapons development center of the postwar era. A young woman’s coming of age reveals a very different side of the high-stakes world of weapons production.
IN THE ZEITGEIST: From Rise of the Rocket Girls to Full Body Burden, there is a fresh fascination with how girls and women have collided and colluded with science, technology, and weapons.
AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR: Karen Piper is known for her writing and research into environmental issues, but has never told her personal story.
“Karen Piper’s A Girl’s Guide To Missiles reaches back into the body of American war and retrieves the heart of a girl, still beating, not beaten. Her memoir riveted me—I read it in one sitting holding my breath as she made a story braid from growing up a girl and growing up in the military industrial complex at the China Lake missile range. Gender, family, war, and American myth-making make this an unforgettable book and a radical act of truth-telling.” —Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan and The Chronology of Water
“Karen Piper lived the escalating levels of insanity of the cold war from the inside, playing her girlhood games in the top secret labs and working beside her parents in a hidden corner of the Mojave. The bombs of tomorrow were a family affair, and the truth was always tricky. For Piper, who writes like a dream, failed test shots mirror busted romances, and the excesses of the era eventually lead our missile girl to communal life in a bomb-proof Oregon. A Girl’s Guide to Missiles is a family portrait, a missile-science primer, a coming of nuclear age. Piper captures the soul of an era that might not be so long gone as we would hope.” –Bill Roorbach, author of Life Among Giants, The Remedy for Love, and The Girl of the Lake
“Brilliantly overdetermined setup, one that yields both black comedy and sickening lurches of insight.”—Harper’s
“[A] fascinating memoir…[Piper] offers an incredible view of a little-known community, from WWII all the way through 9/11, and examines how her family navigated life in a town built for war.” —Booklist
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