History, Science, & Politics | Nonfiction Previews, Jun. 2014, Pt. 1

Baime, A.J. The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Ford Motor Company, and Their Epic Quest To Arm an America at War. Houghton Harcourt. Jun. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780547719283. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780547834443. HISTORY
As Detroit faces bankruptcy, you’ll want to read this instructive title about its crucial role during arsenalWorld War II, when Edsel Ford defied his pacifist father by making the outrageous claim that he could build a factory that would deliver one B-24 Liberator bomber per hour to materiel-strapped Washington—and delivered on his promise. With a 35,000-copy first printing.

Ellenberg, Jordan. How Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking. Penguin Pr. Jun. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781594205224. $27. MATHEMATICS
Yes, Ellenberg gave one of the plenary addresses at the 2013 Joint Mathematics Meeting. But he also writes a popular column called “Do the Math” for Slate and has graced both the Today show and NPR’s All Things Considered, so he’ll be able to explain math’s beauty and deep relevance to everyday life.

Finn, Peter & Petra Couvée. The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle over a Forbidden Book. Pantheon. Jun. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780307908001. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307908018. HISTORY
Given Doctor Zhivago’s incendiary take on the Russian Revolution, master poet Boris Pasternak arranged for his single novel to be smuggled out of the Soviet Union in 1956 and published abroad in translation. But the CIA recognized its importance in the ideological struggle with communism and in 1958 smuggled a Russian edition back across the border. Washington Post reporter Finn, a two-time Pulitzer finalist, and Couvée, a Dutch writer and translator from the Russian, had access to otherwise closed CIA files to write this book, which is for historians and literature lovers alike.

Goulson, Dave. A Sting in the Tale. Picador. May 2014. 288p. ISBN 9781250048370. $25; stingebk. ISBN 9781250048387. NATURE
E.O. Wilson has his ants and University of Stirling (U.K.) professor Goulson has his bees; as founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in 2006, he’s won awards for his efforts to protect the little buzzers of the British Isles. This tale of the bumblebee’s behavior and importance was a finalist for the Samuel Johnson Prize, which recommends it especially.

Nestor, James. Deep: Uncovering the Secrets of the Ocean and Ourselves. Eamon Dolan: Houghton Harcourt. Jun. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780547985527. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780547985633. SCIENCE
Corals far apart that synchronize their blooming and octopuses that thrive in 300-degree F waters—these are just some of the secrets of the ocean revealed by science journalist Nestor. Here’s one area where we still have a lot of learn; with a pretty substantial 40,000-copy first printing.

Rappaport, Helen. The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra. St. Martin’s. Jun. 2014. 448p. ISBN 9781250020208. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250020215. HISTORY
Historian Rappaport uses diaries, letters, and other archival material to cut through the mystique surrounding Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia Romanov—Russia’s last grand duchesses, true celebrities in their day, observers of imperial Russia’s twilight, and murdered with the rest of their family at Ekaterinburg in 1918.

Reid, Joy-Ann. Fracture: Obama, the Clintons, and the Democratic Divide. Morrow. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780062305251. $26.99. POLITICAL SCIENCE
MSNBC correspondent Reid, a press aide to Barack Obama’s Florida campaign in 2008, here charts a split in the Democratic Party owing to the rivalry between Obama and Hillary Clinton and considers how it might affect the 2016 Presidential elections. If Clinton runs again, will Obama stump for her? With a 75,000-copy first printing.

Seife, Charles. Virtual Unreality: Just Because the Internet Told You, How Do You Know It’s True? Viking. Jun. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780670026081. $26.95. INTERNETseife
As pointed out in the recent New York Times piece “If a Story Is Viral, Truth May Be Taking a Beating,” some of the biggest stories online are false or greatly embroidered; these days, “viral trumps verified.” NYU journalism professor Seife, a best-selling author who won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Zero, aims to give readers the tools to separate truth from fiction as he ranges from news coverage to trading to online dating.

Smith, Jamie. Gray Work: Confessions of an American Paramilitary Spy. Morrow. Jun. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9780062271693. $27.99. lrg. prnt. MILITARY/MEMOIR
Have today’s paramilitary forces, perched precariously between the public and the private, become an integral aspect of military warfare? So argues Smith, and whatever you think of this development, he’s worth attending to; after serving in the U.S. Army and the CIA, he cofounded Blackwater Security and then his own contracting company in 2002, carrying out hundreds of missions in dangerous arenas for government agencies and private industry. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Tribe, Laurence & Joshua Matz. Uncertain Justice: The Roberts Court and the Constitution. Holt. Jun. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780805099096. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780805099133. tribeCD: Macmillan Audio. LAW
With society’s challenges abounding and government grinding to a halt, the Supreme Court is looking ever more powerful, and its current and anticipated rulings on issues from free speech to privacy to voting rights will shape America for years to come. Leading constitutional lawyer Tribe, who’s argued many cases before the Court, and Matz, a clerk for a federal judge who has taught constitutional law with Tribe at Harvard Law School, talk about what they think will really happen.

van der Kolk, Bessel. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Viking. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780670785933. $27.95. PSYCHOLOGY
Founder and medical director of the Trauma Center in Brookline, MA, van der Kolk aims to show what he has learned over decades of treating people who have survived trauma. Beyond the battlefield, he points out, one in five Americans has been molested and one in three couples has engaged in violence, which makes the new treatments he discusses of more than passing interest. With a five-city author tour.


Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.