The Ingenious Mr. Pyke by Henry Hemming, PublicAffairs '15, $26.99, 500 pages, ASIN #1610395778. Index, notes, b&w images sprinkled through text.
"In the World War II era, Geoffrey Pyke was described as one of the world's great minds -- to rank alongside Einstein," writes veteran author Henry Hemming in his latest work. "Pyke was an inventor, adventurer, polymath, and unlikely hero of both world wars.
"He earned a fortune on the stock market, founded an influential pre-school, wrote a bestseller, and came up with the idea for the U.S. and Canadian Special Forces. In 1942, he convinced Winston Churchill to build an aircraft carrier out of reinforced ice.
"Pyke escaped from a German WWI prison camp, devised an ingenious plan to help the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, and launched a private attempt to avert the outbreak of the Second World War by sending into Nazi Germany a group of pollsters disguised as golfers.
"And he may have been a Russian spy."
Author Henry Hemming has written four previous works of nonfiction, including Misadventure in the Middle East. His writings have appeared in leading magazines and newspapers. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.
The Story of Science from the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory by Susan Wise Bauer, Norton '15, stated First Edition, First Printing. $26.95, 316 pages, ASIN #0393243265. Index, works cited, notes, b&w images sprinkled through text.
"This is not a history of science," author Susan Wise Bauer writes straightforwardly at the outset of her latest work. 'Histories of science have been written, in great numbers (and at great length), by many other writers. They abound: studies of Greek science, Renaissance science, Enlightenment science, Victorian science, modern science, science and society, science and philosophy, science and religion, science and 'the people.'
"Of course these histories have value. But somehow, the nature of science itself seems to get lost in the details. Most 'people,' regular citizens who have no professional training in the sciences, still have no clear view of what science does -- or what it means.
"Most of us are fed science in news reports, interactive graphs, and sound bites. These may give us a fuzzy and incomplete glimpse of the facts involved, but the ongoing science battles of the 21st century show that the facts aren't enough. Decisions that affect stem cell research, global warming, the teaching of evolution in elementary schools -- these are being made by voters (or, independently, by their theoretical representatives) who don't actually understand why biologists think stem cells are important or how environmental scientists came to the conclusion that the earth is warming or what the Big Bang actually is...."
"So this is a slightly different kind of history. It traces the development of great science writing -- the essays and books that have most directly affected and changed the course of scientific investigation. It is intended for the interested and intelligent nonspecialist."
Author Susan Wise Bauer is the best-selling author of the Story of the World series and The Well-Trained Mind, among other works. She lives in Virginia.
The Best War Ever -- America and World War II, Second Edition by Michael C.C. Adams, Johns Hopkins UPress '15 paperback. $24.95, 184 pages, 3 b&w photos, 3 b&w illustrations, 3 maps, ASIN #1801846978, Index, references.
From the back cover:
"Was World War II such a 'good war'? Popular memory insists that it was, in fact, 'the best war ever. But according to historian Michael C.C. Adams, our memory of the war era as a golden age badly distorts the record. Disputing many common assumptions about the period, Adams argues in The Best War Ever that our celebratory perception of World War II must also include dark and sordid realities.
"Adams challenges various stereotypes to present a view of World War II that avoids the simplistic extremes of both glorification and vilification. The Best War Ever charts the complex diplomatic problems of the 1930s and reveals the realities of ground combat. Adams exposes the myth that the home front was fully united behind the war effort, demonstrating how class, race, gender, and age divisions split Americans."
Author Michael C.C. Adams is Regents Professor of History Emeritus at Northern Kentucky University and author of two books on American wars.