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Hidden Figures Audiobook

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

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Publisher's Summary

One of AudioFile Magazine's Best Audiobooks of 2016.

Soon to be a major motion picture.

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.

©2016 Margot Lee Shetterly (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (86 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Steph Adams London, England 05/01/2017
    Steph Adams London, England 05/01/2017 Member Since 2016
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    "How did I not know about these women?"

    This book details the struggles and determination of a group of black women to be recognised for their worth. Brilliant mathematicians, they were housed in their own department and endured humiliating segregation socially despite working alongside white male colleagues.

    What's really interesting about this book is that it examines the impact of the women becoming successful- good and bad.

    The narrative is provided warmly but the underlying steel of the book shines through the narration and it beautifully brings the story to life.
    Highly recommended

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MR Havant, United Kingdom 14/10/2017
    MR Havant, United Kingdom 14/10/2017 Member Since 2012
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    "Unfocused"

    This is a thoroughly researched book that tells an important story. For that reason I wish I could recommend it more.
    If you've seen the film you'll know what it's about: the significant role black women played in the space programme despite the prejudice against both their skin colour and their gender. Prior to the publication of this book, and the release of the film, their contribution was largely forgotten or unknown, even by people like myself who are interested in space travel.
    So what's wrong with the book?
    To my mind, it's the structure that lets it down. We're just told facts, dry facts and lots of 'em. And so many names! The film focuses on three key women, but in the book the names of the main characters are lost among the minor players. There's some moving about in time too, so that it's quite hard to follow, especially as an audio book. It's not helped by the narrator's monotone, which makes the story fall quite flat at times.
    If I'd been editor I'd have given chapter titles that clue us in to the purpose of the chapter. Let us know whether a chapter is focused on Katherine Johnson, or Mary Jackson, or relevant historical events, or technological developments at the time, or whatever. This could make the book much more accessible without having to dumb it down.
    Don't get me wrong, it's not all dull and worthy. There are breathtaking moments, such as the appearance of Sputnik, John Glenn's precarious landing and so on. Also, the author is not in any way trying to make readers/listeners feel guilty for being white and/or male, and in fact there are heart-warming moments when friendships form that look beyond colour or gender.
    At the end of the day, getting through this book is more of an effort than it should be, but is nevertheless worth the effort.
    I will probably listen to the book again, or perhaps read a print version. I'll also watch the film again, even though I now know it takes a few liberties with history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chrisanthi Nallaiah 23/07/2017 Member Since 2016
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    "Difficult audio book but great from a historical standpoint"

    I found this quite a difficult audio book, there are a lot of facts, dates and setting of the era which caused my mind to wander. I think this would have been easier as physical book. The story itself is incredible and you can tell a lot of research has been done. I think a lot of the personal stories did get lost amongst the technical detail.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Hickey 08/07/2017
    Andrew Hickey 08/07/2017 Member Since 2017
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    "I hope this book's success brings more like it"

    I loved this book, as I suspected I would. I enjoyed the movie but watching it and reading reviews that talked about what it whitewashed and what it simplified made me eager to read the book. Which did not disappoint, with its depth the movie could never go into, and its more powerful stories of how the black women won their victories on their own, with no white savior.

    I think the book did a good job of balancing the details of the women's work with the upbringings and families and volunteer work that so absorbed them, especially how much of that dealt with segregation, prejudice, and deliberately trying to help other black folks reach their potential.

    I read it quickly and am sad to reach its end. I want more books about space and about black women, two of my favorite things to read about.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    V Man 22/04/2017
    V Man 22/04/2017
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    "Fantastic book"

    What am amazing story which is even better because it's not fictional.

    Thank you to the amazing women for sharing and open the gates to women of all backgrounds.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    clothbummum 19/03/2017
    clothbummum 19/03/2017
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    "Dry"

    This is really dry. Not so much a story as a historical recount. Shame. And the lady reading the Audible version sounds a bit robotic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim__Leeder 01/03/2017
    Jim__Leeder 01/03/2017
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    "Dull"

    A very worthy subject but a dull. book . A picture of the horrendous bigotry in Virginia in the 1950s and 1960s

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    M 01/03/2017
    M 01/03/2017
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    "inspiring story. another insight into NASA story"

    as expected the story is more detailed on the lives of the key women from background through the NACA years and segregation issues faced in the US at the time
    I can quite understand why this has been made into a movie and I will be watching that also

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. J. Noyes West Yorkshire, UK 21/02/2017
    K. J. Noyes West Yorkshire, UK 21/02/2017
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    "Important true account, dry style for listening to"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I would recommend the book, but possibly not in an audio format - it's a third person account, which makes it quite a 'dry' listen, fascinating story though it is.


    What other book might you compare Hidden Figures to, and why?

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - very similar writing style, true account, important story of advances made that have never been given the attention they deserve.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    Scenes showing how the ladies were treated (with discrimination) in their early work.


    Was Hidden Figures worth the listening time?

    Yes, but if I had known about the style, I might have opted for a paper version.


    Any additional comments?

    My review from Amazon:

    3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the amazing true story.

    I love discovering 'unknown' true-life stories of real people that made a difference to our lives but have never been given proper credit for it. This reminded me of Henrietta Lacks and her story (also being made into a film), and the style of the book also reminded me of this one.

    This is a fascinating story - the black women who worked behind the scenes of NASA in preparing flight paths for the first space explorations of the 1960s. This is their story as well as the story of how NASA got off the ground.

    We meet several women who featured heavily in the story. Each is given time to have their background and family explored, and how they each made their way to a job in what would eventually become NASA. While the stories themselves are interesting, the book is written in a rather dry style, no speech or interaction, it's all 'told' to us by the narrator, much in the same way as Henrietta Lacks story unfolds, though I found this harder to listen to than to read on paper, as it all feels like one long lecture with no let-up. I admit I did tune out sometimes, though I didn't want to.

    The narrator has a very easy voice to listen to, personable and expressive, very clear and precise, which helped, but the style of the narrative might be one that works best when read for oneself as a written account.

    The most interesting parts of the book are not elaborated on as much as I wanted - the racism and prejudicial treatment the women underwent. Being both women AND black, they lived through times of momentous change, and the author talks about what they had to suffer (separate tables in the cafeteria, toilets possibly only accessible in other buildings, lower pay, lower status), but without their input and comments, it felt like a description rather than a life lived at points.

    The social history and change of the period is well covered, though I did feel sometimes that I'd heard parts before, without being able to refer back - some things were mentioned more than once.

    I was glad to see the epilogue included, talking about the women's lives after NASA and the moon landings, knowing what they and their families did with their lives in later years, it completed the story that had sen the women through from their young lives and felt as though they were suitably commemorated and acknowledged.

    I'm not sure the style quite suits an audio format, and I admit I wasn't keen on the science/maths parts during which I felt rather lost, but the story of a group of women who pushed boundaries and made long-lasting differences for their families, gender, communities and the world at large is one that fully deserved to be told and remembered.

    I now look forward to seeing the film and cementing the different women and their different stories into my head.

    Nudge Books provided the Audible copy for my honest thoughts.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Anonymous
    20/06/17
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    "Women and science"

    A wonderful account of the role of women in the development of space technology. It describes the path to equal opportunity in the United States.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • manasi
    25/04/17
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    "Exceptional story!"

    Hidden figures is a great story which has been very well written and narrated. Must read for every one to know perseverance can move mountains even in the most difficult and challenging times ! Motivating !!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kate
    14/02/17
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    "Excellent"

    This was an excellent book, so much more information than the film, yet enhancing the film. The film conflates some things as it has too but certainly captured and brought to life in a very relatable way this incredible history of these amazing black women. Well worth every penny.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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