Cover image for Hidden figures : the American dream and the untold story of the black women mathematicians who helped win the space race / Margot Lee Shetterly.
Title:
Hidden figures : the American dream and the untold story of the black women mathematicians who helped win the space race / Margot Lee Shetterly.
ISBN:
9780062363596
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2016, ©2016.

©2016
Physical Description:
xviii, 346 pages ; 24 cm
Holds:
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1 Bob Harkins Branch 510.92520973 LEE Book Adult General Collection
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Summary

Summary

The #1 New York Times bestseller

The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA at the leading edge of the feminist and civil rights movement, whose calculations helped fuel some of America's greatest achievements in space--a powerful, revelatory contribution that is as essential to our understanding of race, discrimination, and achievement in modern America as Between the World and Me and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. 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.


Author Notes

Margot Lee Shetterly was born in Hampton, Virginia in 1969. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce. After college she worked in investment banking for several years. Her other career moves have included working in the media industry for the website Volume .com, publishing an English language magazine, Inside Mexico; marketing consultant in the Mexican tourism industry; and writing. Hidden Figures is her first book, a New York Times Bestseller and was optioned for a feature film.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Shetterly, founder of the Human Computer Project, passionately brings to light the important and little-known story of the black women mathematicians hired to work as computers at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton, Va., part of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NASA's precursor). The first women NACA brought on took advantage of a WWII opportunity to work in a segregated section of Langley, doing the calculations necessary to support the projects of white male engineers. Shetterly writes of these women as core contributors to American success in the midst of a cultural "collision between race, gender, science, and war," teasing out how the personal and professional are intimately related. She celebrates the skills of mathematicians such as Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Hoover, whose brilliant work eventually earned them slow advancement but never equal footing. Shetterly collects much of her material directly from those who were there, using personal anecdotes to illuminate the larger forces at play. 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. A star-studded feature film based on Shetterly's book is due out in late 2016. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

In this debut, Shetterly shines a much-needed light on the bright, talented, and wholly underappreciated geniuses of the institution that would become NASA. Called upon during the labor shortage of World War II, these women were asked to serve their country and put their previously overlooked skills to work-all while being segregated from their white coworkers. The author tells the compelling stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden as they navigated mathematical equations, the space race, and the civil rights movement over three decades of brilliant computing and discoveries. The professional and private lives of the ladies of Langley Research Center are documented through an impassioned and clearly well-researched narrative. Readers will learn how integral these women were to American aeronautics and be saddened by the racism and sexism that kept them from deserved recognition. VERDICT Shetterly's highly recommended work offers up a crucial history that had previously and unforgivably been lost. We'd do well to put this book into the hands of young women who have long since been told that there's no room for them at the scientific table. [See Prepub Alert, 3/21/16; "Editors' Fall Picks," p. 27.]-Kate DiGirolomo, Library Journal © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Author's Notep. ix
Prologuep. xi
1 A Door Opensp. 1
2 Mobilizationp. 9
3 Past Is Prologuep. 19
4 The Double Vp. 27
5 Manifest Destinyp. 37
6 War Birdsp. 51
7 The Durationp. 61
8 Those Who Move Forwardp. 69
9 Breaking Barriersp. 77
10 Home by the Seap. 93
11 The Area Rulep. 107
12 Serendipityp. 117
13 Turbulencep. 125
14 Angle of Attackp. 137
15 Young, Gifted, and Blackp. 149
16 What a Difference a Day Makesp. 161
17 Outer Spacep. 175
18 With All Deliberate Speedp. 183
19 Model Behaviorp. 193
20 Degrees of Freedomp. 201
21 Out of the Past, the Futurep. 213
22 America Is for Everybodyp. 227
23 To Boldly Gop. 235
Epiloguep. 247
Acknowledgmentsp. 267
Notesp. 273
Bibliographyp. 319
Indexp. 329

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