Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures Summary

The #1 New York Times bestseller

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 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.

Book Reviews


very different - a research document1 star

disappointing! this book doesnt tell a story, all it does is detail background research & mention occasional activities of scattered characters.15

Samantha Pearson

my thoughs3 star

loved the book but it was a hard read. the book was written for intelligent and good readers which is the opposite of me. i had to read over parts more than once to understand what was happening. other than that amazing book very eye opening!35


Smart Black Women5 star

What an uplifting book. I will read it forever. Have seen the movie at least 50 times. It mesmerizing to see these outstanding women and see the perseverance. What a heroic group of women. I am truly blessed to have read and seen the movie in my lifetime. I wish my mother could have seen it. Thank you for this wonderful piece of work.55


Hidden Figures5 star

Great read.55


Very boring1 star

Very boring and surprisingly nothing like the movie.15


Total Fiction1 star

Check John Glenns and Chuck Yeagers bios for proof.15


A very difficult read3 star

I have a very high reading level and I struggled with the book. The essence of the story is wonderful once you get past the labyrinth of people never heard of again. The women in this book are incredible inspirations. What they accomplished in the face of so much adversity is inspiring. Very glad that I stuck with the book even if this was the longest it has ever taken me to read a book (vertigo didn't help).35

He is not into you

Incredibly Bad1 star

The book not only continues to throw scientific words that make no sense, then repeatedly uses these words, but it also fails to keep the reader's attention with a plot that doesn't have too many ups or downs to it. Just a boring book the whole way through. It's more of a biography and encyclopedia then a book.15


Really?!?1 star

Yet another white guilt movie when will it end15


Great book4 star

Really easy read and learned a lot45

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