A Girl's Guide to Missiles

A Girl's Guide to Missiles

Growing up in America's Secret Desert

Book - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"A poignant, surreal, and fearlessly honest look at growing up on one of the most secretive weapons installations on earth, by a young woman who came of age with missiles. The China Lake missile range is located in a huge stretch of the Mojave Desert, about the size of the state of Delaware. It was created during the Second World War, and has always been shrouded in secrecy. But people who make missiles and other weapons are regular working people, with domestic routines and everyday dilemmas, and four of them were Karen Piper's parents, her sister, and--when she needed summer jobs--herself. Her dad designed the Sidewinder, which was ultimately used catastrophically in Vietnam. When her mom got tired of being a stay-at-home mom, she went to work on the Tomahawk. Once, when a missile nose needed to be taken offsite for final testing, her mother loaded it into the trunk of the family car, and set off down a Los Angeles freeway. Traffic was heavy, and so she stopped off at the mall, leaving the missile in the parking lot. Piper sketches in the belief systems--from Amway's get-rich schemes to propaganda in The Rocketeer to evangelism, along with fears of a Lemurian takeover and Charles Manson--that governed their lives. Her memoir is also a search for the truth of the past and what really brought her parents to China Lake with two young daughters, a story that reaches back to her father's World War II flights with contraband across Europe. Finally, it recounts the crossroads moment in a young woman's life when she finally found a way out of a culture of secrets and fear, and out of the desert."--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, New York : Viking, ©2018.
ISBN: 9780399564543
Characteristics: x, 322 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates :,illustrations, portraits ;,24 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
May 07, 2019

I liked 75% of this book. The 25% about her bad choices in men during her 20's, not so much.

Sep 21, 2018

China Lake was planned by Sherman Burroughs to create a research facility to rival Hitler's military base..."a place where nobody knew what the hell was going on". The author, Karen Piper, writes her memoir about her growing up years at China Lake. She reveals the "secrets" along side the observations from a young, coming of age female. Later she searched for answers as to what her parents actually did there. This is a fascinating account of our military involvement with bombing Japan, competing with Hitler, war in Vietnam, as well as the life of a young girl struggling to interpret the real world.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at Library

To Top