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Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the…
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Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women…

by Margot Lee Shetterly

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,7641005,758 (3.9)196

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» See also 196 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 106 (next | show all)
This is a great book. It is very information dense, and I felt like I took more time than I usually do to read it, but I didn't want to miss a thing. Ms. Shetterly clearly invested a lot of time in her research and it shows. Highly recommended. ( )
  nittnut | Aug 30, 2018 |
3.5-4 ( )
  Bibli0mane | Aug 21, 2018 |
This remined me of Devil in the White City, it was far more facts than story. I enjoyed it, but I think it would have been better for me to read than to listen, I could have kept characters straight better I think.
For more reviews see my blog: https://adventuresofabibliophile.blogspot.com
( )
  Serinde24 | Aug 17, 2018 |
I read this book because I enjoyed the movie so much. Unfortunately, the movie seems to have taken a Liberty Valance print-the-legend approach to the material, upping the drama by taking liberties with the facts. Shetterly sticks to the facts and outlines them in a dry, plodding and repetitive prose that made reading the book more than a bit of a chore. The subject matter remains a revelation and incredibly important, but I wish the reading experience could have been even partially as enjoyable as watching the film. ( )
  villemezbrown | Jul 28, 2018 |
The first time I read this book I got to 15% by which time the story had not gotten into the actual computing or what these women did. I decided to stop reading. Later I saw the movie and found it enjoyable and decided to try the book again to find out more about these women.

The story is an excellent part of history that I had not known. I had read _Rise of the Rocket Girls_ about women computers at JPL and unmanned space flight in which one black woman was named, so I knew how the huge math portion of this work was accomplished. _Hidden Figures_ includes the additional hurdles faced by these women who overcame racism in their lives.

The content of this book is superior in covering the individuals and groups of women and what they did as well as the people they worked with and those who inspired and assisted them. The final chapter tells some of what they did in later years to assist others in realizing their full potential.

I gave a rating of 3, because I do not think the writing of the material was very good. The characters did not seem very rich. There was a lot about them, but prior to seeing the movie I had trouble keeping in mind who was who without more flesh on each of them. The story seemed to bounce around in a sort of disorganized way and I found it hard to follow the various story lines of each character as a result. Even so, I can recommend this book even to those who have seen the movie if a more realistic look at these women is desired. The movie was quite embellished regarding the relationship of the three main characters, at least according to what we see in the book. ( )
  ajlewis2 | Jul 11, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 106 (next | show all)
Ms. Shetterly happened upon the idea for the book six years ago, when she and her husband, Aran Shetterly, then living in Mexico, were visiting her parents here. The couple and Ms. Shetterly’s father were driving around in his minivan when he mentioned, very casually, that one of Ms. Shetterly’s former Sunday school teachers had worked as a mathematician at NASA, and that another woman she knew calculated rocket trajectories for famous astronauts.

Ms. Shetterly remembers her husband perking up and asking why he had never heard this tale before. “I knew women who worked at NASA as mathematicians and engineers,” Ms. Shetterly said, “but it took someone from the outside saying, ‘Wait a minute’ for me to see the story there.”
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shetterly, Margot Leeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lyons, ElsieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Meara, JoyDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my parents, Margaret G. Lee and Robert B. Lee III, and to all of the women at the NACA and NASA who offered their shoulders to stand on.
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"Mrs. Land worked as a computer out at Langley," my father said, taking a right turn out of the parking lot of First Baptist Church in Hampton, Virginia.
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The astronauts, by background and by nature, resisted the computers and their ghostly intellects. In a test flight, a pilot staked his reputation and his life on his ability to exercise total, direct, and constant control over the plane. A tiny error of judgment or a spec of delay in deciding on a course of action might mean the difference between safety and calamity. In a plane, at least, it was the pilot’s call; the “fly-by-wire” setup of the Mercury missions, here the craft and its controls were tethered via radio communications to the whirring electronic computers on the ground, pushed the hands-on astronauts out of their comfort zone. Every engineer and mathematician has a story of double-checking the machines’ data only to find errors. What if the computer lost power or seized up and stopped working during the flight? That too was something that happened often enough to give the entire team pause. The human computers crunching all of those numbers—now that the astronauts understood. The women mathematicians dominated there mechanical planes. The numbers went into the machines one at a time, came out one at a time, and were stored on a piece of paper for anyone to see. Most importantly, the figures flowed in and out of the mind of a real person, someone who could be reasoned with, questioned, challenged, looked in the eye if necessary. The process of arriving at a final result was tried and true, and completely transparent. Spaceship-flying computers might be the future, but it didn’t mean John Glenn had to trust them. He did, however, trust the brainy fellas who controlled the computers. And the brainy fellas who controlled the computers trusted their computer, Katherine Johnson. It was as simple as eighth-grade math: by the transitive property of equality, therefore John Glenn trusted Katherine Johnson. The message got through to John Mayer or Ted Skopinski, who relayed it to Al Hamer or Alton Mayo, who delivered it to the person it was intended for. Get the girl to check the numbers,” said the astronaut. If she says the numbers are good, he told them, I’m ready to go.
The results were what mattered, she told classrooms of students. Math was either right or wrong, and if you got it right, it didn’t matter what color you were.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 006236359X, Hardcover)

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.

 

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 24 May 2016 18:06:49 -0400)

"Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the civil rights movement, and the space race, [this book] 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"--Back cover.… (more)

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