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Rocket Girl


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About the Author

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.


""A dramatic, suspenseful tale." -SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN "Illuminates the exploits of an unsung heroine of the space age." -Preston Lerner, author and journalist "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." -Rod L. Pyle, Author of Destination Mars "This portrait of a mother shrouded in mystery and largely forgotten by the field she pioneered is a compelling read." -Publishers Weekly "An intriguing biography.... The personal story and family detective work are truly gripping, and Mary, in all her contradictions, emerges as a fascinating subject." -Booklist "An accessible and enjoyable read.... [It reminds] us of the need to adequately record and credit the contributions of women scientists, like Morgan, to obtain the fullest account in our history-of-science collections. Recommended." -Library Journal "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." -Douglas L. Smith, legacy content producer, California Institute of Technology "An interesting book that sheds light on a little-known person who played a key role in the early days of the space age, one that should be more prominent given how few women were involved in aerospace at the time." -The Space Review

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 (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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