Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

83%

7 Critic Reviews

Exploring the intimate relationships among blackness, womanhood, and 20th-century American technological development, Shetterly crafts a narrative that is crucial to understanding subsequent movements for civil rights.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

The #1 New York Times bestseller

The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kirsten Dunst, and Kevin Costner.

Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.

Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black “West Computing” group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens.

Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement and the Space Race, Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden, four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades they faced challenges, forged alliances and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their country’s future.

 

 

About Margot Lee Shetterly

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Margot Lee Shetterly is an independent scholar and an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation award recipient, currently at work on The Human Computer Project, a digital archive of the stories of NASA’s female Human Computers. She is one of the founders of Inside Mexico Magazine, an English-language magazine for Mexico’s expat population, and in her former lives worked as an Internet executive and an investment banker. She splits her time between Hampton, Virginia and Valle de Bravo, Mexico. Author Image 1
 
Published September 6, 2016 by William Morrow. 373 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Science & Math, Biographies & Memoirs, Computers & Technology, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Hidden Figures
All: 7 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Above average
on Jul 19 2016

Much of the work will be confusing to the mathematically disinclined, but their story is inspiring and enlightening.

Read Full Review of Hidden Figures: The American ... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Oct 26 2016

Exploring the intimate relationships among blackness, womanhood, and 20th-century American technological development, Shetterly crafts a narrative that is crucial to understanding subsequent movements for civil rights.

Read Full Review of Hidden Figures: The American ... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Booklist Online

Excellent
Reviewed by Colleen Mondor on Sep 01 2016

The breadth of her well-documented research is immense, and her narrative compels on every level. With a major movie due out in January, this book-club natural will be in demand.

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The Space Review

Good
Reviewed by Jeff Foust on Sep 26 2016

...the real story told on the pages of this book artfully explains the challenges these women faced, which makes their accomplishments and achievements all the more outstanding.

Read Full Review of Hidden Figures: The American ...

The Root

Good
Reviewed by HOPE WABUKE on Sep 07 2016

Hidden Figures shines a much-needed light on the contributions of black women in science and technology that have been vastly overlooked. In prose that is engaging and compelling, Shetterly refutes the commonly held stereotype that STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields are the province of men, specifically white men.

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https://bookpage.com

Good
Reviewed by Heather Seggel on Oct 26 2016

This story of African-American female mathematicians who made a significant impact on the Space Race has already been optioned for a film due out in January. It’s a surprising story, even more so for how long it took to be told.

Read Full Review of Hidden Figures: The American ...

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com

Good
Reviewed by Evelyn Lamb on Oct 26 2016

Hidden Figures is an eye-opening testament to the fact that black women were with NASA from the start. We should know about their accomplishments too.

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Reader Rating for Hidden Figures
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