Title: Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us from Missiles to the Moon to Mars
Author: Nathalia Holt
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: History, Space/NASA
Before there were laptop computers and smartphones, before computing was done primarily by machines, the United States was sending brave men to space, with the eventual intention of landing on the moon. This is a story most of us know well. A story that isn’t as well known is the women behind these endeavors, who worked as human computers, to help NASA achieve its mission of a moon landing.
I will read any book about the American space program you put into my hands, so when I first heard about Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us from Missiles to the Moon to Mars, I knew immediately it was a book I had to read. While I know a lot about how NASA got us to the moon, I hadn’t heard of this group of lady human computers, and it was a gap in my knowledge I wanted to fill as soon as possible.
Holt tells a compelling story; she writes in a very readable narrative form, weaving a story that will draw readers in from the very first page. It’s never dense or heavy; instead, Holt spends her time bringing these women to life for the reader, decade by decade. We get to learn about their skills, their capabilities, their hopes and dreams, what they gave up in order to do this job, but also what they achieved. It’s incredibly inspiring.
In order to research for Rise of the Rocket Girls, Holt conducted interviews with all of the living members of this group, and you can see their personalities bursting off the page. But the important thing about this book is that it isn’t just women’s history. It’s American history. Too often, the contributions of women and people of color are discounted and considered “niche” history, but this book puts both front and center. It should be considered a must-read book for anyone interested in the history of the American space program.