LIT­ER­ARY LAIR HID­DEN FIG­URES

EGO - - Interiors -

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, high­en­ergy 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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