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

Extended Audio Sample Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race Audiobook, by Margot Lee Shetterly Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.78 out of 53.78 out of 53.78 out of 53.78 out of 53.78 out of 5 3.78 (3 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Margot Lee Shetterly Narrator: Robin Miles Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2016 ISBN: 9780062472076
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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.

Before John Glenn orbited 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 entering 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 intellect to change their own lives and their country’s future.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Much as Tom Wolfe did in The Right Stuff, Shetterly moves gracefully between the women’s lives and the broader sweep of history…[Shetterly] blends impressive research with an enormous amount of heart in telling these stories.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Meticulous…The depth and detail that are the book’s strength make it an effective, fact-based rudder.”

    Seattle Times

  • “Shetterly…[provides] the depth and detail of a skilled historian and the narrative aplomb of a masterful storyteller.”


  • “Using personal anecdotes to illuminate the larger forces at play…[and] exploring the intimate relationships among blackness, womanhood, and twentieth-century American technological development, Shetterly crafts a narrative that is crucial to understanding subsequent movements for civil rights.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Shetterly’s highly recommended work offers up a crucial history that had previously and unforgivably been lost.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “The stories are amazing not because the women were extremely smart but because they fought for and won recognition and devotedly supported each other’s work…Their story is inspiring and enlightening.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Forget about breaking the glass ceiling—Robin Miles narrates the true story of four black women whose work as mathematicians helped break the sound barrier…Miles warmly profiles these hard-working women and their significant contributions…Miles’ inflections, rhythm, and pace move the story forward in a fascinating timeline of events.”


  • A Library Journal Editor’s Pick for Fall 2016
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for September 2016

Listener Opinions

  • 2.333333 out of 52.333333 out of 52.333333 out of 52.333333 out of 52.333333 out of 5 AvidListner32 | 3/16/2018

    " I found nothing in this book to hold my interest and gave up listening after less than an hour. When reading a novel, I will give it no more than 60 pages to grab my interest. For most audio books, I’ll listen for at least an hour before I reject it. This book failed to capture my interest on all levels. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gaye | 2/3/2017

    " Here is another reminder that the fabric of our country is intertwined in the hands of so many minority groups. So proud of the knowledge, competitive and brilliant minds of a forgotten group of African American women. This book touches on the difficulties facing these women during a time when little thought was given to segregated signs for drinking water, eating and going to bathroom. Head held high, supporting each other and facing obstacles with grace could easily be the motto of Hidden Figures "

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About the Author

Margot Lee Shetterly is a writer who grew up in Hampton, Virginia, where she knew many of the women in her book Hidden Figures. She is an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow and the recipient of a Virginia Foundation for the Humanities grant for her research on women in computing.

About the Narrator

Robin Miles, named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine, has twice won the prestigious Audie Award for Best Narration, an Audie Award for directing, and many Earphones Awards. Her film and television acting credits include The Last Days of Disco, Primary Colors, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order, New York Undercover, National Geographic’s Tales from the Wild, All My Children, and One Life to Live. She regularly gives seminars to members of SAG and AFTRA actors’ unions, and in 2005 she started Narration Arts Workshop in New York City, offering audiobook recording classes and coaching. She holds a BA degree in theater studies from Yale University, an MFA in acting from the Yale School of Drama, and a certificate from the British American Drama Academy in England.