Advance Copy: Backstories on books by NASW members

For this column, NASW book editor Lynne Lamberg asks NASW authors to tell how they came up with the idea for their book, developed a proposal, found an agent and publisher, funded and conducted research, and put the book together. She also asks what they wish they had known before they began working on their book, what they might do differently the next time, and what tips they can offer aspiring authors. She then edits the A part of that Q&A to produce the author reports you see here.

Publication of NASW members' reports in Advance Copy does not constitute NASW's endorsement of their books. NASW welcomes your comments and hopes this column stimulates productive discussions.

For Getting Screwed, Sex Workers and the Law, Alison Bass interviewed sex workers, lawyers, sociologists, community activists, and others. Decriminalizing adult sex work, she asserts, would help sex workers protect themselves better from exploitation, and encourage them to practice safe sex and seek access to health care that could stem the spread of HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases. Funds diverted from pursuing prosecution, she contends, could benefit teenage runaways and the homeless, as well as individuals addicted to drugs.

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.