★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly | September 2016 | William Morrow | Paperback $15.99
Set against the backdrop of the Jim Crow South and the civil rights movement, this is the never-before-told true story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space program — and whose contributions have been unheralded, until now.
Whew, where to start with this one?
Also: What can I say that hasn’t already been said?
In that spirit, I’ll just say a little about why I read Hidden Figures, and why I think you ought to, too.
This book was gifted to me this past Christmas, but I didn’t end up reading it until just last month — and I “read” most of it via audiobook on my drives to/from work, at that. (Shout out to the public library for the freebie!)
I’m so, so glad that I chose to read this work for the Women in Science History event. I never did get around to my second selection for it, but it doesn’t matter too much because this one was so incredibly good.
It’s so hard to imagine what these women had to overcome to do the incredible work that they rarely even get credit for. To be a woman AND African-American in the sciences in early-mid 2oth century was no picnic in the park, that’s for dang sure.
I haven’t seen the associated movie, but whether you have or haven’t I’d say this book is worth reading in and of itself. Shetterly covers a lot of historical/cultural context that I don’t think could even be translated onto film very well. That’s not to say that this is a particularly “academic” text — it’s got a quite engaging narrative style — but I don’t think the movie could really serve as a replacement for it on the whole.
Have you read this book? And/or do you have any recommendations for me on similar topics?
- Official book website
- Official author website
- Author interview on NPR’s “All Things Considered” show
- Article in Scientific American
- Article in the Smithsonian
Publication information: Shetterly, Margot Lee. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race. New York: William Morrow, 2016. Print.
Source: Public library.
Disclaimer: I am not compensated, monetarily or otherwise, for reviews of books or other products.
This book was read for the 2017 Women in Science History event, hosted at Doing Dewey.