A New York Times Bestseller
A Library Journal Editor’s Pick for Fall 2016
An Amazon Best Book of the Month for September 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.
Before John Glenn orbited 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 entering 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 as they faced challenges, forged alliances, and used their intellect to change their own lives and their country’s future.
“Much as Tom Wolfe did in The Right Stuff, Shetterly moves gracefully between the women’s lives and the broader sweep of history…[Shetterly] blends impressive research with an enormous amount of heart in telling these stories.”
“Meticulous…The depth and detail that are the book’s strength make it an effective, fact-based rudder.”
“Shetterly…[provides] the depth and detail of a skilled historian and the narrative aplomb of a masterful storyteller.”
“Using personal anecdotes to illuminate the larger forces at play…[and] exploring the intimate relationships among blackness, womanhood, and twentieth-century American technological development, Shetterly crafts a narrative that is crucial to understanding subsequent movements for civil rights.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Shetterly’s highly recommended work offers up a crucial history that had previously and unforgivably been lost.”
Library Journal (starred review)
“The stories are amazing not because the women were extremely smart but because they fought for and won recognition and devotedly supported each other’s work…Their story is inspiring and enlightening.”
“Forget about breaking the glass ceiling—Robin Miles narrates the true story of four black women whose work as mathematicians helped break the sound barrier…Miles warmly profiles these hard-working women and their significant contributions…Miles’ inflections, rhythm, and pace move the story forward in a fascinating timeline of events.”
Robin Miles, also known as Violet Grey, is an accent specialist and award-winning narrator of over two hundred audiobooks. She was named the 2008 Best Voice in Fiction & Classics for The Pirate’s Daughter and 2008 Best Voice in Biography & History for Brother, I’m Dying.
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- Publisher: HarperCollins
- Genre: Nonfiction/History
- ISBN-13: 9780062472076