Monday, October 24, 2016

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Today's book goodness features a book and story that I sadly knew nothing of until I saw the movie trailer a few weeks ago. The fact that every American school child doesn't have at least a cursory knowledge of who these women are and their important contribution to America's successful race to the moon is shameful. I'll be solving that problem for myself and both of my adult daughters immediately by purchasing copies of Hidden Figures for each of us. This is one of those instances where I am both excited to learn of yet another hidden and amazing contribution that African American women made to this country and angry for the lack of acknowledgement and gratitude given to people who made them. I hope that you find this one as exciting as I do!

Happy Reading!


Set against the backdrop of the Jim Crow South and the civil rights movement, the never-before-told true story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space program—and whose contributions have been unheralded, until now.

Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of professionals worked as “Human Computers,” calculating the flight paths that would enable these historic achievements. Among these were a coterie of bright, talented African-American women. Segregated from their white counterparts by Jim Crow laws, these “colored computers,” as they were known, used slide rules, adding machines, and pencil and paper to support America’s fledgling aeronautics industry, and helped write the equations that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

Drawing on the oral histories of scores of these “computers,” personal recollections, interviews with NASA executives and engineers, archival documents, correspondence, and reporting from the era, Hidden Figures recalls America’s greatest adventure and NASA’s groundbreaking successes through the experiences of five spunky, courageous, intelligent, determined, and patriotic women: Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, Christine Darden, and Gloria Champine.

Moving from World War II through NASA’s golden age, touching on the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the women’s rights movement, Hidden Figures interweaves a rich history of scientific achievement and technological innovation with the intimate stories of five women whose work forever changed the world—and whose lives show how out of one of America’s most painful histories came one of its proudest moments. 

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