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.

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.

Cynthia Barnett—The Sound of the Sea: Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans

Seashells are the work of marine mollusks, the most diverse group of animals in the oceans, with the longest evolutionary history of species living today, Cynthia Barnett reports in The Sound of the Sea: Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans. Mollusks famously clean up the water around them, she notes. How long can they survive if they keep consuming chemical contaminants and microplastic fibers?

Erika Engelhaupt—Gory Details: Adventures from the Dark Side of Science

Would you eat a fried cicada? Drink your own urine? Try on a Nazi officer’s hat? In Gory Details: Adventures from the Dark Side of Science, Erika Engelhaupt explores topics she first found off-putting but later sought to understand. “Nature is often gross,” she says. “If we could be more thoughtful about what disgusts us and why, we might even learn to be a little more tolerant of one another.”

Leila Belkora—Minding the Heavens: The Story of Our Discovery of the Milky Way

Knowledge of our galaxy is advancing rapidly. Astronomers can collect and analyze data on stars and other celestial objects simultaneously and combine data from ground-based & space-based instruments, Leila Belkora reports in Minding the Heavens—The Story of Our Discovery of the Milky Way. Astronomy enthusiasts can participate via citizen science projects. Some even have home observatories.