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Rocket Girl: The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America's First Female Rocket Scientist
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Prometheus 2013
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LIKE THE FEMALE SCIENTISTS PORTRAYED IN HIDDEN FIGURES, MARY SHERMAN MORGAN WAS ANOTHER UNSUNG HEROINE OF THE SPACE AGE—NOW HER STORY IS FINALLY TOLD. This is the extraordinary true story of America's first female rocket scientist. Told by her son, it describes Mary Sherman Morgan's crucial contribution to launching America's first satellite and the author's labyrinthine journey to uncover his mother's lost legacy—one buried deep under a lifetime of secrets political, technological, and personal. In 1938, a young German rocket enthusiast named Wernher von Braun had dreams of building a rocket that could fly him to the moon. In Ray, North Dakota, a young farm girl named Mary Sherman was attending high school. In an age when girls rarely dreamed of a career in science, Mary wanted to be a chemist. A decade later the dreams of these two disparate individuals would coalesce in ways neither could have imagined. World War II and the Cold War space race with the Russians changed the fates of both von Braun and Mary Sherman Morgan. When von Braun and other top engineers could not find a solution to the repeated failures that plagued the nascent US rocket program, North American Aviation, where Sherman Morgan then worked, was given the challenge. Recognizing her talent for chemistry, company management turned the assignment over to young Mary. In the end, America succeeded in launching rockets into space, but only because of the joint efforts of the brilliant farm girl from North Dakota and the famous German scientist. While von Braun went on to become a high-profile figure in NASA's manned space flight, Mary Sherman Morgan and her contributions fell into obscurity—until now.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
07/09/2013
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781616147402
ASIN:
B00BH0VPS8
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

George D. Morgan. (2013). Rocket Girl: The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America's First Female Rocket Scientist. Prometheus.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

George D. Morgan. 2013. Rocket Girl: The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America's First Female Rocket Scientist. Prometheus.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

George D. Morgan, Rocket Girl: The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America's First Female Rocket Scientist. Prometheus, 2013.

MLA Citation (style guide)

George D. Morgan. Rocket Girl: The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America's First Female Rocket Scientist. Prometheus, 2013. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Updated:
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      • bioText: George D. Morgan (Santa Paula, CA) is the Playwright in Residence at the California Institute of Technology. He has written more than a dozen stage plays and musicals, including Second to Die, Nevada Belle, and Thunder in the Valley. He is the son of Mary Sherman Morgan, America's first female rocket scientist.
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shortDescription

AN UNSUNG HEROINE OF THE SPACE AGE--HER STORY FINALLY TOLD.

This is the extraordinary true story of America's first female rocket scientist. Told by her son, it describes Mary Sherman Morgan's crucial contribution to launching America's first satellite and the author's labyrinthine journey to uncover his mother's lost legacy--one buried deep under a lifetime of secrets political, technological, and personal.
In 1938, a young German rocket enthusiast named Wernher von Braun had dreams of building a rocket that could fly him to the moon. In Ray, North Dakota, a young farm girl named Mary Sherman was attending high school. In an age when girls rarely dreamed of a career in science, Mary wanted to be a chemist. A decade later the dreams of these two disparate individuals would coalesce in ways neither could have imagined.
World War II and the Cold War space race with the Russians changed the fates of both von Braun and Mary Sherman Morgan. When...

isOwnedByCollections
True
title
Rocket Girl
fullDescription

LIKE THE FEMALE SCIENTISTS PORTRAYED IN HIDDEN FIGURES, MARY SHERMAN MORGAN WAS ANOTHER UNSUNG HEROINE OF THE SPACE AGE—NOW HER STORY IS FINALLY TOLD.

This is the extraordinary true story of America's first female rocket scientist. Told by her son, it describes Mary Sherman Morgan's crucial contribution to launching America's first satellite and the author's labyrinthine journey to uncover his mother's lost legacy—one buried deep under a lifetime of secrets political, technological, and personal.
In 1938, a young German rocket enthusiast named Wernher von Braun had dreams of building a rocket that could fly him to the moon. In Ray, North Dakota, a young farm girl named Mary Sherman was attending high school. In an age when girls rarely dreamed of a career in science, Mary wanted to be a chemist. A decade later the dreams of these two disparate individuals would coalesce in ways neither could have imagined.
World War II and the Cold War space race with the Russians changed the fates of both von Braun and Mary Sherman Morgan. When von Braun and other top engineers could not find a solution to the repeated failures that plagued the nascent US rocket program, North American Aviation, where Sherman Morgan then worked, was given the challenge. Recognizing her talent for chemistry, company management turned the assignment over to young Mary.
In the end, America succeeded in launching rockets into space, but only because of the joint efforts of the brilliant farm girl from North Dakota and the famous German scientist. While von Braun went on to become a high-profile figure in NASA's manned space flight, Mary Sherman Morgan and her contributions fell into obscurity—until now.

sortTitle
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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Preston Lerner, author and journalist
      • content: "Illuminates the exploits of an unsung heroine of the space age."
      • premium: False
      • source: Rod L. Pyle, Author of Destination Mars
      • content: "A beautiful story well told. Mary Sherman Morgan, a woman who toiled in obscurity and liked it that way, rises from a dirt-poor and abusive childhood to break the gender barrier in rocket engineering. She goes on to solve the last remaining problem keeping America from the stars. Mary's contribution... would have forever vanished were it not for this book. An inspiration for women--and men--everywhere."
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly
      • content: "This portrait of a mother shrouded in mystery and largely forgotten by the field she pioneered is a compelling read."
      • premium: False
      • source: Douglas L. Smith, legacy content producer, California Institute of Technology
      • content: "A sweeping yet intensely personal book.... [It] takes us from the windswept prairies of North Dakota, where Mary Sherman was born, to the equally windswept steppes of Kazakhstan from which Sergei Korolev would launch Sputnik..., putting the United States on a crash course to catch up. [The] race between Korolev and his American rival, ex-Nazi rocketeer Wernher von Braun is deftly interwoven with the daily lives of the unknown engineers [like Mary] who made it possible."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        April 15, 2013
        Playwright George Morgan (Second to Die) knew that his mother, Mary Sherman Morgan, had done important work as a rocket scientist for the U.S. during the Cold War, but it wasn’t until her funeral in 2004 that he began to understand the extent of her contributions. At the service, a man who had worked with Mary told George that she had “single-handedly saved America’s space program... and nobody knows it but a handful of old men.” In addition to being a very private person, Mary was further constrained by the top-secret status of her projects. She kept such a low profile that when famed German scientist Wernher von Braun wrote to her, he addressed the letter to a “Dear Unknown Lady.” In the early 1950s, Morgan—with only a high school diploma—was the sole female analyst among 900 rocket scientists at North American Aviation. If it weren’t for her invention of the propellant hydyne, America’s first satellite would’ve never made it off the ground. Based on a play of the same name that Morgan put on in 2008, this portrait of a mother shrouded in mystery and largely forgotten by the field she pioneered is a compelling read, though folks looking for a more objective biography might be put off by Morgan’s dramatic flourishes and the lack of critical distance between author and subject. Agent: Deborah Ritchken, the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        June 1, 2013

        Morgan (playwright in residence, Cal Tech) is the son of rocket scientist Mary Sherman Morgan (1921-2004). Here he recounts the role she played in enabling the rocket launch that carried America's first satellite into space in 1958. She is credited with inventing Hydyne, the liquid fuel used to lift Explorer 1 into orbit. The strength of this biography rests in how the author contextualizes his mother's story within the better-known one of Wernher von Braun during NASA's early days. This is an accessible and enjoyable read, covering Mary Sherman Morgan's young life in North Dakota through her career working as a chemist for North American Aviation. Morgan initially told his mother's story in a play of the same title; his playwriting skills are evident here. Unfortunately, given his mother's preference for privacy, as well as the secrecy surrounding early rocket projects, plus a dearth of archival sources, the author turns to dramatizing some of his narrative with fictionalized dialog. VERDICT The scarcity of documentation raises questions about historical accuracy here, circumstances that detract from the work but remind us of the need to record and credit adequately the contributions of women scientists, like Morgan, to obtain the fullest account in our history of science collections. Recommended.--Faye Chadwell, Oregon State Univ. Lib., Corvallis

        Copyright 2013 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        June 1, 2013
        Rocket Girl is an intriguing biography of a woman who kept many secrets, the least of which was her part in crafting the rocket-fuel recipe for the satellite Explorer 1. She had a bitter and brutal childhood, put a child up for adoption, and was unpaid for many years for the dangerous work she did in a male-dominated field. Most of all, as her son, author Morgan, recalls, there was something not quite right about her. Call it depression or OCD or just years of suppressed emotion, but Mary Sherman Morgan was not a happy woman. Determined to explore her complicated past, Morgan first wrote a play and then, delving into more detail, this portrait. The narrative is a bit unwieldy in its jumping back and forth in time and in Morgan's attempts to enter the minds of Wernher von Braun and Sergei Korolev, and many questions remain unanswered. Still, the personal story and family detective work are truly gripping, and Mary, in all her contradictions, emerges as a fascinating subject.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2013, American Library Association.)

subtitle
The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America's First Female Rocket Scientist
popularity
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Prometheus
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