Title: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race
Author: Margot Lee Shetterly
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publish Date: January 1, 2016
Source: I received this book for review from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "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
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
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."
My Two Cents:
"Hidden Figures" is the story of four women of color, who along with many other women of color contributed to some of the greatest achievements of NASA at the heights of both the Space Race and the Civil Rights movement. As most history lovers know, not all those involved in historical events are always included in the history books. Too often women and people of color are lost to history. The author tells the story of just a few of these people in this book. Inspirational and important, this book was a great read!
I love reading history books that shed new light on the stories that you think that you only knew. I have been fascinated by space and NASA ever since I was a little kid. I had grand designs of being an astronaut someday (until I realized that you needed to have excellent math skills, which I did/ do not have unlike the women in this book). I know about those on the front lines of the Space Race, the big faces who made headlines but this book puts the spotlight on those in the background that helped those big names make history. So much went into the Space Race and this book made me realize how great the effort truly was at all levels.
I really liked the way that the author was able to show both the public and private lives of these women. Each is driven in her own way. Their goals are often stymied by a society that was still restrictive on women and particularly people of color. Some parts of the book were difficult to get through just because it is still so sad that people were treated so badly. The author includes a lot of historical detail to ensure that readers have a full understanding of what the world was like back then.
This is a hidden history that I am so glad to have light shone upon. I loved gaining greater insight into those on the ground in the Space Race. My fellow history lovers will eat this book up!