• Paperback: 368 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (December 6, 2016)
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.
Hello everyone, happy Wednesday! Thanks for stopping in on my stop for the blog tour for Hidden Numbers. I received a copy from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Hidden Numbers is a nonfiction work that tells the story of a group of African American women whom worked for NASA as mathematicians. Their story has been a lesser known story even though they played such a pivotal, important role in United States space exploration history, literally calculating the trajectories that sent astronauts into space.
When I first signed up to take part in this tour, I had no clue that a film was coming out based on this book and the work of these amazing women. I ended up seeing the trailer randomly and it floored me! How had I never known this essential part of history?!
I loved this book. Not only did I learn a lot while reading it, it was also very inspiring and moving. It’s evident in the writing and the detail included how much research went into this book and the result is an in depth look at a piece of history that we didn’t know we were missing but are so glad to have brought to light. There were so many different interesting aspects of this book. These women are incredible and brave, as are each of their stories. They were women working in a male dominated industry at a time when that wasn’t really done, especially in that particular industry. Not only were they women but they were also black women and this was during the time of the civil rights movement, so with just those two key pieces of information you can see just how important and awesome their work and their situation was.
I am so glad that I read this book and I recommend it to everyone. It’s such an important piece of history, and it’s just fascinating to read about what these women did…I mean without them many things would not have been possible and it’s extremely maddening that their story is barely coming to light and I can’t wait to see the movie based on this book. These women definitely came alive through the pages of this book so it will be incredible, I think, to see them come to life on screen as well and the actresses attached to the movie are phenomenal so that’s exciting! A five star read!
About Margot Lee Shetterly
Margot Lee Shetterly grew up in Hampton, Virginia, where she knew many of the women in Hidden Figures. She is an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow and the recipient of a Virginia Foundation for the Humanities grant for her research on women in computing. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.