Karen Piper grew up on the Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake, a Mojave desert outpost where her father worked on the Sidewinder and other weaponry. The Amway rallies, Evangelical Christianity, Reagan Revolution and Cold War related fears of imminent nuclear war were just part of a lifestyle that she would later begin to question. She tells the story in her memoir, A Girl's Guide to Missiles: Growing Up in America's Secret Desert (Viking).
"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
Karen Piper is also the author of The Price of Thirst, Left in the Dust, and Cartographic Fictions.