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

Written by:
Margot Lee Shetterly
Narrated by:
Robin Miles

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
September 2016
10 hours 48 minutes
The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space. Now 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.
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R Sawyer

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

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Beverly W

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

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Jennifer Tingey

I loved this book! It was so well written and thought out. The author described just the facts without the embellishments of conjectured conversations. It was written in such a way as to convey potentially dry historical facts into meaningful, inspirational words. Words that offer hope for humanity, progression, and left me (and I'm sure most readers) wondering what contribution I can make to society. I felt motivated and empowered to make some positive change in my life so I can be a part of making a positive change in society. I was a little frustrated and disappointed that these women were not mentioned in our history books. They, especially Kathryn Johnson, were monumental in getting our first astronauts in space. Not only were they women working in a predominantly male industry, they were black. Would it have made a difference today for people of color, especially women, to have these women mentioned alongside John Glen or even W.E.B Dubois? I believe it would've. How could it not empower them or anyone? It's crazy I never learned about these women. I would've been enthralled. I enjoyed listening to the narrator. I'm going to look up some other books she may have read for. I couldn't listen to her if I was tired because her voice was very soothing.

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Patricia Randall

This book is very good, it fills in the blanks left from movie. Not like The girl on the train.

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Shadd Rohwer

This is an engaging and enlightening look at aviation history and the people who made it happen. This is an important and timely story of the true work and dedication it takes to make great feats of engineering happen. A truly inspiring look into the truth of our history.

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Cheryl M.

This is a wonderful and inspiring novel.

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

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Doug M.

And amazing book!

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Lin F.

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

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Betty H

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.

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dante sweat

Very inspirational and will hopefully provide insight as to how are nation should appreciate women and their numerous contributions to its foundation

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RJ Serpa

Having read multiple accounts of the US emerging from WWII and advancing into supersonic flight and then ultimately space flight, this was a pleasant revelation. Loved this piece of American history. Excellent story, well told.

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J Daniel Bärham

Excellent read - historical, fascinating, and emotionally moving at times.

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Rosalyn Steele

I love the movie and I just started reading this story and I already know I'm going to enjoy it very much.

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Samantha Brecher

Love this book and it gave me a look into a part of NASA history I never knew about but should have been taught in school.

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Carrie Keena

Fascinating and extremely informative. A subject we don't hear about, but should. Highly recommended for thoughtful reading.

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Tammy S.

I found this book to be anti-climactic. I am intrigued by the historical events of this story, but found the book to be like sitting in history class and being told all the facts. Would have appreciated more storytelling surrounding the lives of these brilliant women. I also found the narration to be slow, I listened at 1.5 speed.

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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.

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Dylan C

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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Ralph R

interesting from an historical perspective. At times the storyline seemed to drag and keeping track of all of the characters/their roles was a bit difficult for me.

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