A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly- Feature and Review


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 shots 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 as they faced challenges, forged alliances, and used their intellects to change their own lives - and their country's future




Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space RaceHidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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 Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, at a time when women and minorities were not treated equally, nor given the credit they so obviously deserved, is a testament to what can happen if you forge through barriers, focus on your goals, and meet challenges with determination, grace and dignity.
The excitement of the space program and the rapid advances of the time jumped off the page and hammered home the powerful impact these ladies had. It is also frustrating that their contributions were buried for so long. The segregation and humiliations they endured, while common for the time period, is no less outrageous, and still raised my ire at the absurdity of it.

But, ultimately, the author gives us a special insight into what inspired these exceptional women, highlighted their many talents, their personal convictions, and led us on an exciting journey that paved the way for so many of the wonderful achievements of our country.
The book is meticulously researched, well written, and achieves its ultimate goal. Mathematics and science are cool, and not just for guys, which is a misconception we still fight off today. No matter how late in coming, the accolades these women are now receiving is sure to promote a vigorous interest in these fields as the become a role model for future generations.
It is more important than ever that we fight for science, that we continue to promote education for all, and remember those who came before us, who paved the way and made sacrifices so we can enjoy the way of life we have now.

This is a fascinating book, rich in details, both historically and technically, some of which sailed over my head a little, but that only encouraged me to learn more.

I highly recommend this book to everyone, no matter what genre you typically prefer reading. This book is a learning experience and an extremely interesting peak at the 'behind the scenes' beginnings of the space program, proving that every person’s role and contribution is important and makes a difference. Best of all, it’s a true story!!

I can’t wait to see the movie now. I’ve heard it was really good!





I'm the author of  Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race (William Morrow/HarperCollins). I'm also the founder of The Human Computer Project, an endeavor that is recovering the names and accomplishments of all of the women who worked as computers, mathematicians, scientists and engineers at the NACA and NASA from the 1930s through the 1980s. 
I'm a Hampton, Virginia native, University of Virginia graduate, an entrepreneur, and an intrepid traveler who spent 11 years living in Mexico. I currently live in Charlottesville, VA.  

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