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Publisher's Summary

The riveting true story of the women who launched America into space.
In the 1940s and '50s, when the newly minted Jet Propulsion Laboratory needed quick-thinking mathematicians to calculate velocities and plot trajectories, they didn't turn to male graduates. Rather, they recruited an elite group of young women who, with only pencil, paper, and mathematical prowess, transformed rocket design, helped bring about the first American satellites, and made the exploration of the solar system possible.
For the first time, Rise of the Rocket Girls tells the stories of these women - known as "human computers" - who broke the boundaries of both gender and science. Based on extensive research and interviews with all the living members of the team, Rise of the Rocket Girls offers a unique perspective on the role of women in science: both where we've been and the far reaches of space to which we're heading.
©2016 Nathalia Holt (P)2016 Hachette Audio
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Critic Reviews

"Engaging history...a fresh contribution to women's history." (Kirkus)
"The immediacy of Holt's writing makes readers feel as if they're alongside the women during their first view of Jupiter, and beyond." (Stephanie Sendaula, Library Journal)
"I stole sleep to finish this book and was happy to do so. I admire how Holt gives voice to a group of important (and lesser-known) female scientists who have in the past been overshadowed by their male counterparts. The domestic and the scientific are elegantly rendered - it is an impressive contribution to American history and I was sad to turn the last page." (TaraShea Nesbit, best-selling author of The Wives of Los Alamos)
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Customer Reviews

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By Sara on 06-11-16

Struggles In Space Exploration

There is an interesting article available on-line from theatlantic.com titled How Sexism Held Back Space Exploration. There is a photo of Helen Ling, one of the women "computers" from this book and Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in the article. It is a fascinating look at the same story told here but from a different angle. To me, the article captures the feeling of frustration I had as I listened to the book. I have to be honest, I was disturbed by the degree of sexism presented in the book and by how it was not handled directly. Instead, it was almost spun into a simple tale of smart plucky women breaking the mold.

Be aware, this is not a complete history of NASA or the space program. Instead, Holt kept her focus directly on the lives of the women, their struggles juggling marriage, home, family and work. It was clear how devoted and captivated the women were by the work the did at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the parts they played in furthering space exploration. I just felt frustrated and angry on their behalf.

This was an interesting, if at times thin look at the lives of a subset of women from 1936 through the current day. There are numerous sites on-line with old photos and background information that are worth a look. Do read the article mentioned above. It helps to expand the story and adds depth to the book.

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39 of 45 people found this review helpful


By Katherine on 10-25-16

an insightful history of what women can accomplish

An insightful history of what women can accomplish, when they have a seat at the table. One of the most cognizant points I took away is that women's scientific achievements during this period in history was dependent on having support, a manager that looked to encourage a feminine presence, willingness to hire (or hire back) women that had young children at home, and extended flexibility to its employees. Truly an amazing accounting of the history of space exploration from its humble beginnings, through the lens of an often underrepresented largest minority.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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