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.

NASW members: Will your book be published soon? Visit to submit your report.

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.

Alison Bass—Brassy Broad: How one journalist helped pave the way to #MeToo

In 1989, Alison Bass reported for The Boston Globe on psychiatrists who had sex with their patients. In 1992, she reported for The Globe on pedophile priests, a decade before The Globe launched its Spotlight investigation. Later she documented sex workers’ lives, a topic she expanded into a book. Brassy Broad: How one journalist helped pave the way to #MeToo is her memoir.

Dennis Meredith—Explaining Research: How to Reach Key Audiences to Advance Your Work, 2nd Ed.

Scientists and journalists seeking to explain scientific research findings, implications, and applications need a variety of tools and techniques from jargon-free language to social media skills. Audiences still filter information through their own values. In Explaining Research: How to Reach Key Audiences to Advance Your Work, 2nd Ed., Dennis Meredith aims to help readers get messages across.

Carl Zimmer—A Planet of Viruses, Third Edition

Nearly 4.6 million people worldwide have died to date from Covid-19, 640,000 of them in the US alone. Other viruses, notably smallpox, the first virus to be nearly eradicated, are even more lethal. Scientists estimate a trillion viruses may exist on earth, many capable of producing new human diseases. “There will be more Covids,” Carl Zimmer warns in A Planet of Viruses, now in its 3rd edition.

Thomas E. Schindler, PhD—A Hidden Legacy: The Life and Work of Esther Zimmer Lederberg

Not including Esther Lederberg in the 1958 Nobel Prize awarded to Joshua Lederberg—Esther’s research partner and husband—and George Beadle and Edward Tatum for discoveries in genetics blatantly exemplifies sexism in science, Thomas E. Schindler asserts. In A Hidden Legacy: The Life and Work of Esther Zimmer Lederberg, Schindler reports Esther’s original contributions to the prize-winning findings.

Nancy Marie Brown—The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women

DNA tests in 2017 showed a high-status Viking warrior buried between 913 and 980 in Birka, Sweden, was a woman. The full set of sturdy weapons and two horses in her grave upended scholars’ assumptions about the role of Viking women. Who was she? For The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women, Nancy Marie Brown drew on science, history, and legends to imagine her life story.

Ashley Yeager—Bright Galaxies, Dark Matter, and Beyond: The Life of Astronomer Vera Rubin

Astronomer Vera Rubin provided evidence for the existence of dark matter, the invisible material comprising more than 90% of the universe’s mass. As a pioneering woman, she faced slights & skepticism, Ashley Yeager reports in Bright Galaxies, Dark Matter, and Beyond. Rubin died in 2016 at age 88. She is the 1st woman to have a national observatory named for her, Tucson’s Vera C. Rubin Observatory.

Sarah Everts—The Joy of Sweat: The Strange Science of Perspiration

If you’ve been watching the Olympics, you’ve seen torrents of sweat. Elite athletes sweat sooner and more copiously than couch-potatoes, Sarah Everts reports in The Joy of Sweat: The Strange Science of Perspiration. Their bodies anticipate and compensate for exercise-induced high core temperatures. Though “sticky, stinky, and gross,” Everts says, “sweat is among our most fascinating secretions.”

Alison Pearce Stevens—Rhinos in Nebraska: The Amazing Discovery of the Ashfall Fossil Beds

Twelve million years ago, rhinos, elephants, camels, and saber-toothed deer roamed the ancient savanna we now call Nebraska, gathering at watering holes. The explosion of a supervolcano in present-day Idaho 1,000 miles away sent a blanket of ash that buried hundreds of animals for millennia. In Rhinos in Nebraska, Alison Pearce Stevens tells the story of their discovery and continuing excavation.

Melinda Wenner Moyer—How To Raise Kids Who Aren’t Assholes

In various surveys, parents rate kindness as the quality they most want to instill in children. But how? Bullying, racism, sexism, and school violence can’t be ignored. Melinda Wenner Moyer explored academic research and talked to educators and parenting experts. She shares her findings in How To Raise Kids Who Aren’t Assholes: Science-Based Strategies for Better Parenting—From Tots to Teens.