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Friday, July 21, 2017

Review: Hidden Figures

Reading Hidden Figures after reading The Rise of the Rocket Girls feels like reading a prequel. While Rise of the Rocket Girls focused on the West Coast and JPL, Hidden Figures focuses on Langley, and starts out during the world war 2 era, where due to the shortage of man (and woman) power, various administrations were forced to hire women (and Blacks) to work as computers during the war effort.

The issues covered are very different from The Rise of the Rocket Girls. For instance, segregation played a big role in the story, and the author covers the entire civil rights era, where the state of Virginia (where Langley was located) at one point shut down its entire public school system rather than permit Blacks and Whites to be at the same school. One of the protagonists later would attend adult school in one of those high school campuses and remark that the place was so dinghy that it was a wonder that this was what they were trying to keep Black people away from.

The story is well written, and also covers the creation of NASA from NACA, which was meant to help with aviation rather than rocketry. The politics behind the formation of NASA was interesting as well. All in all, I recommend reading this book.

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