The Six: The Untold Story of America’s First Women Astronauts

Scribner. Sept. 2023. 432p. ISBN 9781982172800. $32.50. HIST
In her fast-moving narrative nonfiction debut, Bloomberg science journalist Grush vividly chronicles the careers of Anna Fisher, Shannon Lucid, Judy Resnik, Sally Ride, Rhea Seddon, and Kathy Sullivan, members of NASA’s 1978 astronaut class, which included the first women and people of color selected for the space program. NASA’s lack of diversity, eloquently detailed in Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures, ended in the 1970s after a whistleblower’s firing caused a public outcry. The space shuttle program provided the perfect landing place for this astronaut class because it required civilian specialists, such as doctors, engineers, and a variety of scientists, rather than just a few pilot astronauts—giving “the Six” the opportunity they’d been waiting for all their lives. Recounting each woman’s motivation for joining NASA, along with the interview process, training, and constant battle to prove themselves to colleagues and the media, Grush sketches their personalities while engagingly relaying NASA’s history.
VERDICT Grush’s compelling group biography of these extraordinary women, which also includes fascinating details of the space shuttle program and speculation on the future of the commercial space industry, is ideal for those curious about space science and women’s contributions to STEM fields.
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