Review of The Woman in the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Helped Fly the First Astronauts to the Moon

How Margaret Hamilton Helped Fly the First Astronauts to the MoonThe Woman in the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Helped Fly the First Astronauts to the Moon
by Richard Maurer
Intermediate, Middle School    Roaring Brook    272 pp.
3/23    9781626728561    $19.99
e-book ed.  9781626728578    $10.99

Maurer shines a deserved spotlight on Margaret Hamilton, whose computer code for the Apollo program was integral to the success of the 1969 moonshot. Readers meet her as a child in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where she was brought up to be “curious, diligent, fearless, and a bit of a rebel”; her path eventually led to her joining the Instrumentation Lab at MIT. It was there that Hamilton helped write the code for the onboard ­computer, the Apollo ­Guidance Computer, that would ­control the astronauts’ flight through space. ­Maurer draws on numerous ­personal interviews with Hamilton to reveal her character; she comes across as determined, brilliant, and confident yet self-effacing. Maurer mirrors her ­methodical ­competence, weaving into his account contextualizing information about early computer science and the technological innovations that made the Apollo program possible. He details the f­unctioning—and malfunctioning—of the AGC drive, the excitement of the test flights, and then Apollo 11 itself. Archival illustrations further enliven the narrative; a 1969 publicity photo of Hamilton steadying a tower of printed-out code is as effective now as it was then. A timeline, thorough source notes, an extensive bibliography, photo credits, and an index (unseen) round out this valuable addition to books about the space program.

From the March/April 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Vicky Smith

Vicky Smith is the children’s editor at Kirkus Reviews. She has served on a bunch of award committees and on the ALSC Board but she speaks for none of them, nor does she speak for this magazine, though it’s nice enough to print her opinions.

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