Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

Version: Unabridged
Author: Margot Lee Shetterly
Narrator: Robin Miles
Genres: Philosophy
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Published In: September 2016
# of Units: 9 CDs
Length: 10 hours, 47 minutes
Ratings:
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Overview

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.

Reviews (20)

Written by Cheryl M. on August 23rd, 2019

  • Book Rating: 4/5

This is a wonderful and inspiring novel.

Written by Anonymous on July 27th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 2/5

I thought I'd love this book, unfortunately it was very hard to get into, very hard to stay focused.

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Written by Anonymous on July 10th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 2/5

The narration droned on and on almost putting me to sleep. It’s not a book to listen to if you are driving. The subject seemed more about the rights of black womens’ suffrage than about the space program and by the end of the book, which I had to force myself to finish, I was tired of the author giving so much credit to the women highlighted as though they alone were responsible for NASA’s success.

Written by Doug M. on May 1st, 2019

  • Book Rating: 5/5

And amazing book!

Hidden Figures

Written by nab6215 from Altoona, PA on March 5th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I like how the author explained the methods the government for mathematical calculation from WWII through the age of NASA. It is mainly a book about black women who did those calculations and wrote the code, but this framework puts their lives into perspective. Some names go by fast but the work of each generation builds on the next. It's good to know there have always been women coders.

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Written by Lin F. on September 13th, 2018

  • Book Rating: 5/5

An important and far too often overlooked part of history, told in a brilliant way.

Hidden Figures

Written by R Sawyer on December 17th, 2017

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Thank you for your HONEST look into your life; it’s not always easy telling your business. But for you to read it!

Written by Dylan C on July 25th, 2017

  • Book Rating: 3/5

I found the narrator to be wonderful, but the book to be very wordy. l felt that the book just kept going on and on. Although the actual story is a wonderful and interesting, the book was not that intriguing.

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Written by Betty H on July 16th, 2017

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Wonderful to listen to. Interesting to learn some in-known history. Such a shame we had to wait so long to find out about such amazing women in history.

Written by Beverly W on July 13th, 2017

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Wonderful, Wonderful.....love this book! Inspiring and uplifting.

Author Details

Author Details

Shetterly, Margot Lee

Margot Lee Shetterly grew up in Hampton, Virginia, where she knew many of the women in her book 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.