Advance Copy: Backstories on books by NASW members

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Kris Newby: BITTEN

Having experienced persistent effects of a tick bite, Kris Newby helped create the 2009 Lyme documentary, Under Our Skin. In 2013, she learned scientist Willy Burgdorfer, who had identified the Lyme disease-causing bacterium, attributed Lyme’s initial outbreak to a bioweapons release. Her book Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons explores that astonishing claim.

Antonia Malchik: A Walking Life

Our car-centric culture has been designing walking out of our lives for nearly a hundred years, Antonia Malchik asserts. Forgoing walking has eroded our sense of community, made us more anxious about time, cut us off from nature, and boosted obesity and air pollution, she says. In A Walking Life: Reclaiming Our Health and Our Freedom One Step at a Time, Malchik calls for a U-turn.

Sunny Bains: Explaining the Future

If you’re new to covering technology, where do you start? In Explaining the Future: How to Research, Analyze, and Report on Emerging Technologies, Sunny Bains tells what to ask, where to find answers, how to assess experts’ opinions, and how to organize and convey your conclusions. Bains is editorial director of the science news site Engineering Inspiration.

Rod Pyle: Interplanetary Robots

From the first images of Mars Mariner 4 sent back to earth in 1965 to those of Pluto New Horizons captured in its 2015 flyby, the solar system has proved “far less friendly and hospitable than we had hoped, but more fascinating than we could have imagined,” Rod Pyle writes. In Interplanetary Robots: True Stories of Space Exploration, Pyle recounts six decades of headline-making history.

Stephen Ornes: Math Art

A mathematician created 13 mathematical quilts providing visual representations of patterns in pi. A topologist worked out equations for inner and outer curves of seashells to sculpt shells from gypsum. A teacher crochets tangible models of the hyperbolic plane. In Math Art: Truth, Beauty, and Equations, Stephen Ornes explains the math and provides stunning examples of mathematical art.

Charles Graeber: The Breakthrough

Skeptical reporters usually avoid the word “breakthrough,” but Charles Graeber deems it the right word for the Nobel Prize-winning scientific discoveries he describes in The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer. More than 3000 clinical trials of immunotherapeutic drugs for cancer are in process. “Even oncologists, a cautious bunch,” he writes, “are using the C word: cure.

Mark Wolverton: Burning the Sky

In the late 1950s, during the Cold War, the U.S. secretly conducted high-altitude atomic bomb tests, aiming to create a radiation shield to block incoming warheads. New York Times reporters pierced the veil of secrecy, raising safety and moral concerns relevant today, Mark Wolverton relates in Burning the Sky: Operation Argus and the Untold Story of the Cold War Nuclear Tests in Outer Space.

Jason Goldman: Wild LA

In Los Angeles, the La Brea Tar Pits hold millions of Ice Ace fossils, bobcats roam urban parks, and the world’s northernmost resident sea turtle population swims in the San Gabriel River. In Wild LA: Explore the Amazing Nature In and Around Los Angeles, NASW member Jason G. Goldman and colleagues provide an informative guide to these and other attractions, with photos, maps, and directions.

Rod Pyle: Space 2.0

SpaceX sent a Crew Dragon spacecraft with cargo to the International Space Station this month. A planned Crew Dragon trip to ISS later this year will put two NASW astronauts in space for the first time since 2011. In SPACE 2.0: How Private Spaceflight, a Resurgent NASA, and International Partners are Creating a New Space Age, Rod Pyle conveys the excitement of the next era of space exploration.