Review: Rise of the Rocket Girls ISBN 9780316338929

Review: Rise of the Rocket Girls ISBN 9780316338929

Title: Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars
Author: Nathalia Holt
ISBN: 9780316338929
Price: $32.50
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Review by Patricia Bresson

Rise of the Rocket Girls
, an inspirational biography of the women who permitted space exploration

Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars portrays the lives of some of the women who helped to shape modern science. Their stories, as told by Nathalia Holt, mirror the changes occurring in the United States as the country makes its way through the 20th century.

The Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology (GALCIT) Rocket Research Project is created in the late 1930s after a group of young men attending Caltech and known as the Suicide Squad caused an accident on campus. When the government makes an investment in rocket research, the group hires its first mathematician, Barbara Canright, to ensure the success of its projects. However, there is a long way before the GALCIT team can realize its dream of launching a rocket into space.

While the United States consecutively fight in World War II, the Cold War and the Korean War, and while its politics, culture, ethnic groups and technology change drastically from one decade to another, the Suicide Squad creates the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and hires more people. Among them are female mathematicians, called “computers,” who play a major role in the development of missiles, satellites and rockets. In an era where women are expected to be nurses, teachers, secretaries or housewives, the computers at JPL prove their skills and potential, and show how their lives are ones of hard work, determination and friendship.

Holt uncovers the little known tales of these women wonderfully. Allying history to science, her work popularizes chemical, physical and mathematical concepts as well as describing the key moments of the avant-garde JPL. Its successes, its failures, and the strong emotions they convey make its tale inspiring and powerful.

Charming, moving and truthful, Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars will ravish the curious minds.

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