Ratty (blinger) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Ratty
blinger
50bookchallenge

Book 18 - 2017

Book 18: Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of the African American Women who helped win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly – 328 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
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 enable these historic achievements. Among these were a coterie of bright, talented African-American women. Segregated from their white counterparts, these `colored computers' used pencil and paper to write the equations that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.
Moving from World War II through NASA's golden age, touching on the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the women's rights movement, Hidden Figures interweaves a rich history of mankind's greatest adventure with the intimate stories of five courageous women whose work forever changed the world.


Thoughts:
I can’t remember if I read this book before or after I saw the film, but my reading lined up with the press around the film, and the increased focus on the numerous black women (well, women in general) involved with the space program. The book is not quite as engaging as the film, reading more along the lines of a standard non-fiction, but it provides a wonderful overview of the era, as well as the details of a number of the women’s lives (including the three famous ladies featured in the film). The race relations issues in the United States still baffle me to certain extent, and discussions around limiting the career opportunities of otherwise smart, ambitious people merely due to the colour of their skin will never not be weird to me. This book did a great job of outlining these issues without necessarily feeling angry (though of course, it would have every right to be, but it would take something away from just telling these women’s amazing stories). The hoops these women had to jump through were extraordinary, but they were obviously up to the task. If only, now in times somewhat improved, we could muster as much of the general public’s enthusiasm for the space program as we had back then.


18 / 50 books. 36% done!


8092 / 15000 pages. 54% done!

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Tags: academic, history, in the media
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