Advance Copy: Backstories on books by NASW members

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People who experienced a limb amputation may perceive pain or other sensations that seemingly arise in the missing limb, a disorder known as phantom limb syndrome. Other people deny that healthy limbs or other bodily parts belong to them, and sometimes beseech surgeons to amputate these parts, or even attempt that act themselves. Anil Ananthaswamy explores these and other disorders that alter our sense of living in our own body in The Man Who Wasn’t There: Investigations into the Strange New Science of the Self.

In the early part of the twentieth century, Seattleites decided the city’s Denny Hill was too high; they leveled it, carting away millions of tons of earth they then used to create a waterfront area at the city’s harbor. Large-scale engineering projects continue to reshape the city’s landscape today, Seattle native and urban geologist David Williams reports in Too High and Too Steep. As one reviewer observes, “Williams explores the irony that the Emerald City, surrounded by blue water and forested mountains, may be the most engineered metropolis on earth.”

In A River Runs Again: India’s Natural World in Crisis, Meera Subramanian explores India’s efforts to address environmental and social challenges through five focused reports: the Rainman of Rajasthan’s quest to bring water back to a rural community, an engineer-turned farmer’s determination to promote growth and consumption of organic foods, local manufacturers’ struggles to develop and market smokeless cook stoves, scientists’ race to keep native vultures from becoming extinct, and a young woman’s dedication to teaching teenage girls about reproductive health.