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Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of the African American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
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Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of the African American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race

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3.96  ·  Rating details ·  53,732 ratings  ·  6,754 reviews
Soon to be a motion picture. The #1 New York Times Bestseller. Set amid the civil rights movement, the never-before-told true story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space program. Before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of professionals worked as ‘Human Computers’, calculating the flight paths that would enab ...more
Audible Audio, 11 pages
Published September 6th 2016 by HarperAudio
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3.96  · 
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 ·  53,732 ratings  ·  6,754 reviews


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Amber
Man I really really wanted to like this book. I enjoy nonfiction and I loved the subject matter the author went after. However, this was just so dry. It felt very clinical as opposed to experiencing life with these women. Also some of the facts that the author was trying to get across were so repeated their value lost meaning. Bummer because it could have been SOOO good.
Katie
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, favorites
I want EVERYBODY to read this. It's a story you need to hear. It will move you, it will surprise you, it will frustrate you and it will inspire you. No matter your gender, ethnicity, race or creed, you need this in your life.
Lauren Cecile
Jan 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book was as amazing as the movie. I had occasion to meet the author who is the niece of one of these remarkable women. It is unbelievable that we did not know about the contributions of these women until now. This shows how history and historians are extremely selective and do not stray from the pre-established political narrative. I'm sure there are countless other untold stories about women and minorities. Thanks to Margot Shetterly for introducing us to these (s)heroes of rocket science(! ...more
Carmen
CARMEN: *sighs*
*drinks coffee*
Okay, I've put off writing this long enough. Let's do this thing.

As a child, however, I knew so many African Americans working in science, math, and engineering that I thought that's just what black folks did.

THE GOOD:

- Feminism! Smash the patriarchy! Sisters are doin' it for themselves!

- Break down those race barriers!

I'm totally on board with this message.

Even more on board with calling attention to something that most Americans are ignorant about - Women's rol
...more
AMEERA
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow , Wow , Wow , Wow , Wow , Wow Wow , Wow , Wow , Wow , Wow , Wow
THIS BOOK HOLY SHIT * AMAZING *
Julie
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly is a 2016 William Morrow publication.

America is for Everybody!!

It wouldn’t have mattered when or where I happened along this book, I would have loved it!!
But, with so many core values at stake in our immediate future, with the contributions of the best and the brightest on the line, this story reminds us of why we need maths and science, and how much we can accomplish if we all work together as people, with a common goal in mind.

The work of Dorothy Vau
...more
Amanda
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-log
Hidden Figures tells the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, four African-American women who blazed the trail for others to follow in the fields of mathematics and engineering at NASA.

NASA, originally known as NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) began hiring women during WWII as female computers. These women essentially did the work of mathematicians but were labeled as subprofessionals in order to be paid less. In 1943 there was a p
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Amanda Lichtenstein
This was such an extraordinary, exhilarating and important story to tell, but the writing was so dry, repetitive and full of platitudes that it began to dull the edges of this sharp tale. I really hope that the author was able to get through some revisions to work out some of the weaknesses in the writing because the story is so important -- it's about African-American women in the South who, because of the war, are temporarily able to secure jobs as 'human computers' at NACA -- which later beco ...more
Kai
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Even as a professional in an integrated world, I had been the only black woman in enough drawing rooms and boardrooms to have an inkling of the chutzpah it took for an African American woman in a segregated southern workplace to tell her bosses she was sure her calculations would put a man on the Moon.”

I don't even read nonfiction if it doesn't involve making-of Harry Potter books (which I still consider fiction in a way). So this was a good change for once.
I'm not sure when I first heard of th
...more
Candi
"In July 1969, a hundred or so black women crowded into a room, their attention commanded by the sounds and grainy images issuing forth from a small black-and-white television. The flickering light of the TV illuminated the women’s faces, the history of their country written in the great diversity of their features and hair and skin color, which ranged from near-ivory to almost-ebony, hues of beige and coffee and cocoa and topaz filling in between. Some of the women were approaching their golden ...more
Matthew
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
How far we have come in the last 100 years! Both scientifically and as people. I know in many ways we still have a long way to go, but this book shows how much has changed for the better through the persistance of those unlikely to be given a chance.

Less than 80 years ago, in many places, people of different colors still couldn't share bathrooms, tables in cafeterias, etc. Women were only given base level positions and pay because that was just how it was. Ask a man leading a department why the
...more
Bionic Jean
I first heard of Katherine Johnson just a few months ago, when I was watching a Sci-Fi time travel series on television. “Timeless” was a lot of hokum, but fun, and interestingly, many of the historical figures in the stories were real, and portrayed as authentically as they could. So when I became aware of this particular black woman, a high-flying mathematician with the ability to think outside the box – and learned that she had played a great part in the space race – I investigated further.

To
...more
Britany
Apr 09, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Britany by: Diane Fisher
This book was everything I thought it would be, which unfortunately is why I didn't want to read it. So many friends told me that it wasn't what I thought, and one friend literally pushed her copy into my hands, and guess what, my fellow book nerds?? I should've stuck with my gut.

Non-Fiction with a lacking narrative makes for tough reading. Add in subject matters that do not appeal to me: Space, Science, and Math. Finally, my biggest non-fiction pet peeve: no chronological sense whatsoever. Why
...more
Holly
Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 2016-reads
My original "review" was this - two flippant little sentences to serve as a placeholder for an eventual "real" review:
Glad that's over. Not bad but strangely boring.
(In the interim 8 people "liked" that review IDK why?) Too much time has passed for me to write something detailed, but I just want to explain that though the book didn't impress me the women depicted are important and it will makes a great movie that I'm going to see soon. But maybe the execution of the story/ies just wasn't to my
...more
Obsidian
Wow. Just wow. I saw this movie two weeks ago and was blown away by it. Reading the book just gave me even more details about the African American women who came out as human computers (I had no idea that was where the word computers came from, they computed so were seen as computers) and helped shaped the United States space program.

Shetterly has historian disease (yeah I use to suffer from this as well, historians unite!) so the flow was off a few times. And there are details sprinkled in some
...more
Kat
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-3
Incredible look at some of the brilliant female African-American mathematicians and engineers who worked for NASA and its predecessor in a time when integration was being challenged, schools were being closed in Virginia, and the portrayal of mathematicians and scientists was usually a bunch of white guys in shirts and ties.

This was dual parts biographical and also in places a very technical read with lots of science and talk of wind tunnels and minor adjustments to trajectories… I would say it
...more
Didi
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: American history
This is an excellent nonfiction novel to learn about the African-American women who largely contributed to America's race to space. What I especially appreciated was the way Shetterley always grounded the story in history. The reader is always reminded of what else is going on in the world as well as other American historical events. Hidden Figures is a must read.
Truman32
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly should just be a glowing ball of jaw dropping greatness heavily slathered in awesome sauce. Something Marsellus Wallace would keep locked up in a secure briefcase. The subject: black female mathematician’s hidden but tremendously influential impact on the United States aeronautic superiority during the second World War as well as helping win the Space Race seems compelling, important, exciting, and timely. The book is historical so I can feel like a respons ...more
Andrew
From my youth, I have always been interested in the space race. So all the way through reading "Hidden Figures", I was asking myself why haven't I ever heard about the African American Women Scientist involved in the US Space Program from it's earliest days!

Margot Lee Shetterly does a great job of telling their story. For me one of the most telling statements she makes is "as a child, I grew up knowing so many Black people in Science, Math, and Engineering that I thought that was just what Blac
...more
Lata
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Short of just gushing about the brainy women featured in this engaging book, I'll say that I wish I could have known some of these women. Coming from a STEM background myself, I found it fascinating to hear about the personal and the professional lives of the women who worked at NACA (before it was known as NASA). Three of these women are followed in detail: Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson and Katherine Johnson. They, and all the other West Computers, worked unbelievably hard and with often flawle ...more
Myrna
Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very well researched book on a fascinating topic very few of us knew about until now. Glad the author brought to light these extraordinarily talented “human computers”. Be forewarned: this book has lots historical and technical information and not a lot of personal stories. Look forward to the movie!
Poonam
This is my Book Of the Month- February-March 2017, with GR group- The Reading For Pleasure Book Club, Category: Non-Fiction Group Read.

This is one of the most celebrated books of this time and I had very high expectations from this book. I wanted to read this before watching the movie.

Now, the thing is the movie trailer somehow makes it come off as a motivational story with humorous undertones but in fact the book has absolutely NO humor in it!! And I say this because I found the writing very v
...more
Ben Babcock
No, but seriously, did you expect anything less of a rating from me? This book is kickass. It is literally everything I have wanted in a science history book for a while.

Hidden Figures details the lives and achievements of the Black women who worked first as computers, then as mathematicians and engineers, for NACA (the National Advisory Committee of Aeronautics) and its successor, NASA. Margot Lee Shetterly pulls back the curtain on an aspect of science history that has remained obscured and ne
...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
I did not expect to become tearful upon finishing a history book, especially one about mathematicians and engineers, but I did.

Many things had to happen before women were considered to do the work of engineers and mathematicians by the government of the United States: Parents who believed the natural mathematics talent of their daughters was worthy of their support; local schools that had enough resources and talented teachers to provide a quality education and scholarships; and finally, employe
...more
Montzalee Wittmann
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly is a book not only about strong women but more. It is a book about society, struggles, overcoming prejudices, spirit, strong will, and brains. This is a history lesson for all of us not to repeat mistakes. This book follows a handful of smart and tough women as they work their way through a society rigged against them in every way until they get a small ...more
Calista
An Amazing book. I saw the movie when it came out and I LOVED the movie. I was excited for the book. I like the book, but it's not a story. Margot Shetterly is writing a history. She is not writing a story - there is a difference. Margot is telling and not showing. She doesn't put us inside Katherine's perspective, she tells us about Katherine's perspective. She also gives histories of many of the people and she goes into many of the historical backgrounds that got us here starting with World Wa ...more
Bettie☯
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Janelle Monáe


Janelle Monáe, Margot Lee Shetterly, and Melissa Harris-Perry on the Importance of Portraying Nuanced Black Female Characters

Just WOW, and on so many levels of brilliance. You can take La La Land and give it away to any charity shop, maybe iron it out a bit first. (the dancing was less than a week three Strictly level)

So, Oscar-wise:

6* Hidden Figures
2* La La Land
TW Florence Foster Jenkins
TW Fences
Ashlula
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
I liked this book very much. It covers an important time in history when things were changing fast and for the better. It is a product of thorough research and is full of events and anecdotes that make us re-live the tough times black women had to endure during 50s and 60s. The efforts of many courageous people that paved the road of social freedom for women and black people are amazing. It is also very interesting to read about this era; since the kids of today are born with an ipad; but before ...more
Erin
I have to say, I didn't think I would like this book. I mean a book about mathematicians? As someone who hates math with a passion, I did not think I would enjoy it but hey I wanna see the movie so I gotta read the book.

OMG!!!! I thought this book was so good, the only reason I didn't give 5 stars was Math( I really hate math and whenever it was mentioned my eyes glazed). I also felt ashamed that I had never heard of these amazing women. How is that even possible? These women helped men walk on
...more
Kazen
Jul 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
There is so much history that we don't know about. Some of it is hinted at in textbooks - conversations that may have taken place in closed rooms, people who may have helped behind the scenes. These are things we can imagine not knowing. But that there was a group of African-American women that worked as mathematicians at NASA, plotting our course to the stars? It's an unknown unknown - in media depictions I don't think I've seen any people of color at all.



All too often women and people of color
...more
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“Women, on the other hand, had to wield their intellects like a scythe, hacking away against the stubborn underbrush of low expectations.” 48 likes
“Katherine Johnson knew: once you took the first step, anything was possible.” 32 likes
More quotes…