Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly | Audiobook Review

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly | Audiobook ReviewHidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Narrator: Robin Miles
Length: 10 Hours 47 Minutes
Published by HarperCollins on September 6th 2016
Genres: History, United States, 20th Century, Social Science, Ethnic Studies, African American Studies, Science, Space Science
Pages: 368
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 9780062363619

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.

Why Did I Listen To Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly?

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly hit my radar when I went to the movies. I forget which movie we saw because we go a lot. However, I saw the trailer for the movie and was like OMG THIS LOOKS AMAZING. Then my mind went into the direction of I need to read the book! Fortunately, my library had an audiobook version available through Overdrive and because I am such a fan of non-fiction audiobooks, I immediately put it on hold and was absolutely eager to listen to this book.

What’s It All About?

Essentially like every other non-fiction book ever, the subtitle of Hidden Figures tells you exactly what to expect. It is indeed a book about The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win The Space Race. More specifically it delves into the time frame of World War II when there was a shortage of workers and how there were these tests for women to see if their math skills were on par enough to work for the Space program. These women basically originally were teachers and that was as far as they could go with their amazing skills. But then these jobs for the government opened up and the women and their families moved to Hampton, Virginia to work at Langley Field.

Hidden Figures explores the lives of several of these notable Black women. It describes the social political climate of Hampton, Virginia. More importantly, it shows us a piece of Black, American history that hitherto did not get a lot of fanfare. I mean, how often do you hear about Black women killing it in STEM? Not very, so this book was just incredibly interesting and absolutely an absorbing listen.

What Did I Think Of Hidden Figures?

I think that Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures is a very important book. Also, it is a very important movie. It’s essential that Black women and girls be able to see themselves reflected in academic pursuits and excelling at things like STEM. I also think it’s important for people like me to see that as well, to be reminded of just how amazing real life Black girl magic is.

This book really captivated my attention. I loved not only the math and science aspect – because I am a geek for that kind of thing even though I am not the most proficient at it. However, I also loved the stories of the individual women and their brains and courage. Much of this book reads as narrative non-fiction and I think it’s so easy to get into the storyline and the subject matter.

How’s The Narration?

The audiobook of Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly is narrated by Robin Miles. I’ve listened to plenty of books narrated by Miles – she seems to specialize in reading non fiction written by women. Anyways, her voice is very scholarly but not boring. She’s easy to listen to and to continue paying attention to. I’d definitely say give the audiobook a shot if you’re interested and want to actually learn something during your commute or while you’re cleaning the house.

Other reviews of Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly:

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. This was a fabulous read. I did it on audio too and really enjoyed it.

  2. Ah, I’m so glad the source material lives up to the movie! I thought the film was incredible, and I’d love to read more about the women and their lives. Will definitely be keeping an eye out for the book.
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