Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars (Paperback)
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.
"If Hidden Figures has you itching to learn more about the women who worked in the space program, pick up Nathalia Holt's lively, immensely readable history, Rise of the Rocket Girls." -- Entertainment Weekly
About the Author
A New York Times bestseller
A Los Angeles Times bestseller
An Amazon Best Book of 2016
An Entertainment Weekly "10 Books You Have to Read in April"
An Elle "8 Books by Women for Bill Gates to Read This Summer"
Goodreads Choice Awards finalist
"Illuminating...these women are vividly depicted at work, at play, in and out of love, raising children--and making history. What a team--and what a story!"
—Gene Seymour, USA Today (3.5 stars/4)
"A marvelous book.... When Neil Armstrong made his 'giant leap for mankind,' there was womankind in the control room."
—Maria Popova, Brain Pickings
"Immersive, evocative.... Superbly readable.... Holt's poignant narrative should be required reading."
—Maya Gittelman, Bookreporter
"Holt investigates the fascinating lives and important contributions of these women, who defied the sexist stereotypes of their times to play pivotal roles in sending the first rockets beyond Earth."
"Holt argues that these women's calculations played an under-appreciated part in NASA's towering achievements.... Here, math is dramatic, not mundane. Calculating is a physical, even athletic, act.... Holt depicts the human computers' life stories vividly."
—Jennifer Light, Nature
"Women were obviously just as vital to innovation and progress. Rise of the Rocket Girls proves that by reexamining the space age-specifically, the group of women who redesigned rocket science in the '40s and '50s and made that 'one small step for man' possible in the first place."
—Isabella Biedenharn, Christian Holub, Dana Getz, Entertainment Weekly
"NASA's 'Rocket Girls' are no longer forgotten history. Thanks to a new book, these female pioneers who helped the U.S. win the space race are finally getting their due... Holt documents the lives of these women, who were not only pioneers in their profession, but also in their personal lives."
—Naomi Shavin, Smithsonian
"The JPL's earliest days were fueled by math whizzes who happened to be women.... Holt was clearly smitten while interviewing surviving members of the elite group, and conveys that affection while honoring their story."
"Engaging.... A fresh contribution to women's history.... Besides chronicling the development of America's space program, Holt recounts the women's private lives-marriages, babies, and the challenge of combining motherhood and work-gleaned from her interviewees' vivid memories."
"Holt does a fine job balancing the personal stories of these women with the technical discussions of their work ....Rise of the Rocket Girls tells a fascinating story of the women who made largely unseen yet essential contributions to the early history of spaceflight."
—Jeff Foust, The Space Review
"Heartfelt.... An accessible and human-centered history.... Holt cheerfully describes the women of JPL (and JPL itself), their triumphs, and the inevitable questions about when they would marry and quit working to raise families."
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Holt's book shines portraying the mathematical and engineering process behind JPL's many iconic spaceflight missions...as well as the women's personal lives and the evolution of their unusual roles inside the male-dominated workplace."
"Incredible....Holt unveils this forgotten history with nuance and insight."
—Laurel Raymond, Think Progress
"Rise of the Rocket Girls reveals the fascinating untold story of the heroic women who made America's space program possible. We owe much to these brilliant female pioneers in science-and to Nathalia Holt for reminding us of their extraordinary contributions."
—Cate Lineberry, author of The Secret Rescue: An Untold Story of American Nurses and Medics Behind Nazi Lines
"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, bestselling author of The Wives of Los Alamos
"These women helped change the course of American history. Nathalia Holt tells their remarkable story with heart and verve."
—Martha Ackmann, author of The Mercury 13: The True Story of Thirteen Women and the Dream of Space Flight
"This highly readable, entertaining and informative book tells the story of JPL's 'computers,' the young women who did the calculations now handled by bits of silicon. Holt brings her characters to life, tracing them from their hiring as JPL began its career with the Army developing missiles for the Cold War through its conversion to NASA's lead center for planetary exploration. She celebrates their lives, achievements, and service to the nation, as well as their excitement at having front row seats to the earliest voyages of solar system exploration. It's a story whose telling is long overdue. We can be grateful for this enjoyable read."
—Dr. Charles Elachi, Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Vice President of the California Institute of Technology, and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Planetary Science
"Non-fiction tends to be a good reading slump buster for me, and this one seems perfect."
—Andi Miller, Book Riot
"We hope the renewed history of the rocket girls continues to inspire more girls and women to pursue STEM fields so the gender gap is sealed once and for all."
"Holt's book shines portraying the mathematical and engineering process behind JPL's many iconic spaceflight missions--including America's first satellite, Explorer 1, and the Voyager probes that explored the solar system--as well as the women's personal lives and the evolution of their unusual roles inside the male-dominated workplace."
"Rocket science has long been associated with men...but in Rise of the Rocket Girls, Nathalia Holt shines a light on the women behind the scenes."
—Eliza Thompson, Cosmopolitan, "6 New Books to Read This Month"
Matt Wallace’s middle grade debut is a fast-paced dynamic story of 12-year old MJ who dreams of becoming a lucha libre – or wrestler. This unconventional sport has been shared & loved with MJ’s dad, Papi, who is now no longer in MJ and her mom’s life. Hiding the truth from herself (& readers), MJ goes to great lengths to avoid seeing her dad. MJ’s poor treatment by her former gymnastic teammates has alienated her as well as the struggling to make sense of middle school dynamics. Finding an outlet for her joy, friendship and a chance of being in the ring wrestling to “storytell”, her next door neighbor, Mr. Arellano, has offered her a chance to train at his wrestling academy. I was totally enthralled by the deep character development and uber-realistic scenes Wallace has painted with respect to MJ’s relationship with her now-single parent Mom as well as the wrestling basics & behind-the-scene techniques. The secondary plot of a cruel and vengeful athletic commissioner who wants to shut down Mr. Arellano’s academy leads to a hair-raising climax where MJ needs to save the day. Girls who enjoy sports that may not be typically portrayed in MG literature will shout for joy with MJ’s perseverance, her can-do attitude, as well as her vulnerabilities. This novel rings as true as the bell at the end of a match – A WINNER! - Reviewed by Maureen