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      Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime

      by Sean Carroll

      Feb 2020

      Adult Crossover Nonfiction Plus

      Something Deeply Hidden begins with the news that physics is in a crisis. Quantum mechanics underlies all of modern physics, but major gaps in the theory have been ignored since 1927. Science popularizers keep telling us how weird it is, how contradictory, how impossible it is to understand. Academics discourage students from working on the “dead end” of quantum foundations. Putting his professional reputation on the line, Carroll says that crisis can now come to an end. We just have to accept that there is more than one of us in the universe. There are many, many Sean Carrolls. Many of every one of us.

      The Many Worlds theory of quantum behavior says that every time there is a quantum event a world splits off with everything in it the same, except in that other world the quantum event didn’t happen. As you read this, you are splitting into multiple copies of yourself thousands of times per second. Step-by-step in Carroll’s uniquely lucid way, he sets out the major objections to this utterly mind blowing notion until his case is inescapably established.

      The Holy Grail of modern physics is reconciling quantum mechanics with Einstein’s general relativity, his theory of curved spacetime. Carroll argues that our refusal to face up to the mysteries of quantum mechanics has blinded us, and that spacetime and gravity naturally emerge from a deeper reality called the wave function. No book for a popular audience has attempted to make this radical argument. We’re on the threshold of a new way of understanding the cosmos.

      Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA

      by Amaryllis Fox

      Jan 2020

      Adult Crossover Nonfiction Plus

      Amaryllis Fox was in her last year as an undergraduate at Oxford studying theology and international law when her writing mentor Daniel Pearl was captured and beheaded. Galvanized by this brutality, Fox applied to a master’s program in conflict and terrorism at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, where she created an algorithm that predicted, with uncanny certainty, the likelihood of a terrorist cell arising in any village around the world. At twenty-one, she was recruited by the CIA. Her first assignment was reading and analyzing hundreds of classified cables a day from foreign governments and synthesizing them into daily briefs for the president. Her next assignment was at the Iraq desk in the Counterterrorism center. At twenty-two, she was fast-tracked into advanced operations training, sent from Langley to “the Farm,” where she lived for six months in a simulated world learning how to use a Glock, how to get out of flexicuffs while locked in the trunk of a car, how to withstand torture, and the best ways to commit suicide in case of captivity. At the end of this training she was deployed as a spy under non-official cover—the most difficult and coveted job in the field as an art dealer specializing in tribal and indigenous art and sent to infiltrate terrorist networks in remote areas of the Middle East and Asia.

      Life Undercover is exhilarating, intimate, fiercely intelligent—an impossible to put down record of an extraordinary life, and of Amaryllis Fox’s astonishing courage and passion. 

      The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier

      by Ian Urbina

      Dec 2019

      Adult Crossover Nonfiction Plus

      There are few remaining frontiers on our planet. But perhaps the wildest, and least understood, are the world’s oceans: too big to police, and under no clear international authority, these immense regions of treacherous water play host to rampant criminality and exploitation.

      Traffickers and smugglers, pirates and mercenaries, wreck thieves and repo men, vigilante conservationists and elusive poachers, seabound abortion providers, clandestine oil-dumpers, shackled slaves and cast-adrift stowaways—drawing on five years of perilous and intrepid reporting, often hundreds of miles from shore, Ian Urbina introduces us to the inhabitants of this hidden world. Through their stories of astonishing courage and brutality, survival and tragedy, he uncovers a globe-spanning network of crime and exploitation that emanates from the fishing, oil and shipping industries, and on which the world’s economies rely.

      Both a gripping adventure story and a stunning exposé, this unique work of reportage brings fully into view for the first time the disturbing reality of a floating world that connects us all, a place where anyone can do anything because no one is watching.



      “Appendix: Reining in the Outlaw Ocean.” Notes. Further reading. Black-and-white photographs.

      Gods of the Upper Air: How a Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex, and Gender in the Twentieth Century

      by Charles King

      Nov 2019

      Adult Crossover Nonfiction Plus

      At the end of the 19th century, everyone knew that people were defined by their race and sex and were fated by birth and biology to be more or less intelligent, able, nurturing, or warlike. But one rogue researcher looked at the data and decided everyone was wrong. Franz Boas was the very image of a mad scientist: a wild-haired immigrant with a thick German accent. By the 1920s he was also the foundational thinker and public face of a new school of thought at Columbia University called cultural anthropology. He proposed that cultures did not exist on a continuum from primitive to advanced. Instead, every society solves the same basic problems—from childrearing to how to live well—with its own set of rules, beliefs, and taboos.
      Boas’s students were some of the century’s intellectual stars: Margaret Mead, the outspoken field researcher whose Coming of Age in Samoa is one of the most widely read works of social science of all time; Ruth Benedict, the great love of Mead’s life, whose research shaped post-Second World War Japan; Ella Deloria, the Dakota Sioux activist who preserved the traditions of Native Americans of the Great Plains; and Zora Neale Hurston, whose studies under Boas fed directly into her now-classic novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Together, they mapped vanishing civilizations from the Arctic to the South Pacific and overturned the relationship between biology and behavior. Their work reshaped how we think of women and men, normalcy and deviance, and re-created our place in a world of many cultures and value systems. 
      Gods of the Upper Air is a page-turning narrative of radical ideas and adventurous lives, a history rich in scandal, romance, and rivalry, and a genesis story of the fluid conceptions of identity that define our present moment.



      Source notes. Bibliography. Index.

      Semicolon: The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark

      by Cecelia Watson

      Oct 2019

      Adult Crossover Nonfiction Plus

      The semicolon. Stephen King, Hemingway, Vonnegut, and Orwell detest it. Herman Melville, Henry James, and Rebecca Solnit love it. But why? When is it effective? Have we been misusing it? Should we even care?

      In Semicolon, Cecelia Watson charts the rise and fall of this infamous punctuation mark, which for years was the trendiest one in the world of letters. But in the nineteenth century, as grammar books became all the rage, the rules of how we use language became both stricter and more confusing, with the semicolon a prime victim. Taking us on a breezy journey through a range of examples—from Milton’s manuscripts to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letters from Birmingham Jail” to Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep—Watson reveals how traditional grammar rules make us less successful at communicating with each other than we’d think. Even the most die-hard grammar fanatics would be better served by tossing the rule books and learning a better way to engage with language.

      Through her rollicking biography of the semicolon, Watson writes a guide to grammar that explains why we don’t need guides at all, and refocuses our attention on the deepest, most primary value of language: true communication.



      Source notes. Index. Black-and-white illustrations, photographs, and reproductions.

      King of King Court

      by Travis Dandro

      Oct 2019

      Adult Crossover Nonfiction Plus

      A dynamic and devastating memoir about the cycle of trauma caused by addiction within one family

      From a child’s-eye view, Travis Dandro recounts growing up with a drug-addicted birth father, alcoholic step-dad, and overwhelmed mother. As a kid, Dandro would temper the everyday tension with flights of fancy, finding refuge in toys and animals and insects rather than in the unpredictable adults around him. He perceptively details the effects of poverty and addiction on a family while maintaining a child’s innocence for as long as he can. 

      King of King Court spans from Travis’s early childhood through his teen years, focusing not only on the obviously abusive actions but also on the daily slights and snubs that further strain relations between him and his parents. Alongside his birth father committing crimes and shooting up, King of King Court lingers on scenes of him criticizing Travis and his siblings. Dandro gives equal heft to these anecdotes, emphasizing how damaging even relatively slight traumas can be to a child’s worldview. 

      As Travis matures into young adulthood and begins to understand the forces shaping his father’s toxic behaviors, the story becomes even more nuanced. Travis is empathetic to his father’s own tragic history but unable to escape the cycle of misconduct and reprisals. King of King Court is a revelatory autobiography that examines trauma, addiction, and familial relations in a unique and sensitive way.



      Black-and-white illustrations.

      The Weather Machine: A Journey Inside the Forecast

      by Andrew Blum

      Sep 2019

      Adult Crossover Nonfiction Plus

      The weather is the foundation of our daily lives. It’s a staple of small talk, the app on our smartphones, and often the first thing we check each morning. Yet behind all these humble interactions is the largest and most elaborate piece of infrastructure human beings have ever constructed—a triumph of both science and global cooperation. But what is the weather machine, and who created it?
       
      In The Weather Machine, Andrew Blum takes readers on a fascinating journey through the people, places, and tools of forecasting, exploring how the weather went from something we simply observed to something we could actually predict. As he travels across the planet, he visits some of the oldest and most important weather stations and watches the newest satellites blast off. He explores the dogged efforts of forecasters to create a supercomputer model of the atmosphere, while trying to grasp the ongoing relevance of TV weather forecasters.
       
      In the increasingly unpredictable world of climate change, correctly understanding the weather is vital. Written with the sharp wit and infectious curiosity Andrew Blum is known for, The Weather Machine pulls back the curtain on a universal part of our everyday lives, illuminating our changing relationships with technology, the planet, and our global community.


      Source notes. Selected bibliography. Index.

      Rough Magic: Riding the World's Loneliest Horse Race

      by Lara Prior-Palmer

      Sep 2019

      Adult Crossover Nonfiction Plus

      At the age of nineteen, Lara Prior-Palmer discovered a website devoted to “the world’s longest, toughest horse race”—an annual competition of endurance and skill that involves dozens of riders racing a series of twenty-five wild ponies across 1,000 kilometers of Mongolian grassland. On a whim, she decided to enter the race. As she boarded a plane to East Asia, she was utterly unprepared for what awaited her.
      Riders often spend years preparing to compete in the Mongol Derby, a course that recreates the horse messenger system developed by Genghis Khan, and many fail to finish. Prior-Palmer had no formal training. She was driven by her own restlessness, stubbornness, and a lifelong love of horses. She raced for ten days through extreme heat and terrifying storms, catching a few hours of sleep where she could at the homes of nomadic families. Battling bouts of illness and dehydration, exhaustion and bruising falls, she decided she had nothing to lose. Each dawn she rode out again on a fresh horse, scrambling up mountains, swimming through rivers, crossing woodlands and wetlands, arid dunes and open steppe, as American television crews chased her in their Jeeps.
      Told with terrific suspense and style, in a voice full of poetry and soul, Rough Magic captures the extraordinary story of one young woman who forged ahead, against all odds, to become the first female winner of this breathtaking race.

      Author’s note.

      Notes From a Young Black Chef: A Memoir

      by Kwame Onwuachi

      Aug 2019

      Adult Crossover Nonfiction Plus

      By the time he was twenty-seven, Kwame Onwuachi had competed on Top Chef, cooked at the White House, and opened and closed one of the most talked about restaurants in America. In this inspiring memoir, he shares the remarkable story of his culinary coming-of-age. Growing up in the Bronx and Nigeria (where he was sent by his mother to “learn respect”), food was Onwuachi’s great love. He launched his own catering company with twenty thousand dollars he made selling candy on the subway, and trained in the kitchens of some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the country. But the road to success is riddled with potholes. As a young chef, Onwuachi was forced to grapple with just how unwelcoming the world of fine dining can be for people of color, and his first restaurant, the culmination of years of planning, shuttered just months after opening. A powerful, heartfelt, and shockingly honest memoir of following your dreams—even when they don’t turn out as you expected—Notes from a Young Black Chef is one man’s pursuit of his passions, despite the odds.

      Midnight in Chernobyl: The Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster

      by Adam Higginbotham

      Jul 2019

      Adult Crossover Nonfiction Plus

      Early in the morning of April 26, 1986, Reactor Number Four of the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station exploded, triggering history’s worst nuclear disaster. In the thirty years since then, Chernobyl has become lodged in the collective nightmares of the world: shorthand for the spectral horrors of radiation poisoning, for a dangerous technology slipping its leash, for ecological fragility, and for what can happen when a dishonest and careless state endangers its citizens and the entire world. But the real story of the accident, clouded from the beginning by secrecy, propaganda, and misinformation, has long remained in dispute. Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews conducted over the course of more than ten years, as well as letters, unpublished memoirs, and documents from recently declassified archives, Adam Higginbotham has written a harrowing and compelling narrative which brings the disaster to life through the eyes of the men and women who witnessed it firsthand. The result is a masterful nonfiction thriller, and the definitive account of an event that changed history: a story that is more complex, more human, and more terrifying than the Soviet myth.

      Note on translation and transliteration. Maps. Cast of characters. Epilogue. Author’s note. Glossary. Further information about measuring radiation. Source notes. Bibliography. Index. Black-and-white photo inserts.

      Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive

      by Stephanie Land

      Jun 2019

      Adult Crossover Nonfiction Plus

      At 28, Stephanie Land's plans of breaking free from the roots of her hometown in the Pacific Northwest to chase her dreams of attending a university and becoming a writer, were cut short when a summer fling turned into an unexpected pregnancy. She turned to housekeeping to make ends meet, and with a tenacious grip on her dream to provide her daughter the very best life possible, Stephanie worked days and took classes online to earn a college degree, and began to write relentlessly. She wrote the true stories that weren't being told: the stories of overworked and underpaid Americans. Of living on food stamps and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) coupons to eat. Of the government programs that provided her housing, but that doubled as halfway houses. The aloof government employees who called her lucky for receiving assistance while she didn't feel lucky at all. She wrote to remember the fight, to eventually cut through the deep-rooted stigmas of the working poor.

      Foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich.

      The Edge of Anarchy: The Railroad Barons, the Gilded Age, and the Greatest Labor Uprising in America

      by Jack Kelly

      May 2019

      Adult Crossover Nonfiction Plus

      This epochal tale offers fascinating portraits of two iconic characters of the pinnacle of the Gilded Age. George Pullman, who amassed a fortune by making train travel a pleasure, thought the model town that he built for his workers would erase urban squalor. Eugene Debs, founder of the nation’s first industrial union, was determined to wrench power away from the reigning plutocrats. The clash between the two men’s conflicting ideals pushed the country to what the U.S. Attorney General called “the ragged edge of anarchy.”

      Source notes. Bibliography. Index. Black-and-white maps, photographs, and reproductions.
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