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Higher: A Historic Race to the Sky and the Making of a City

by Neal Bascomb

The Roaring Twenties in New York was a time of exuberant ambition, free-flowing optimism, an explosion of artistic expression in the age of Prohibition. New York was the city that embodied the spirit and strength of a newly powerful America. In 1924, in the vibrant heart of Manhattan, a fierce rivalry was born. Two architects, William Van Alen and Craig Severance (former friends and successful partners, but now bitter adversaries), set out to imprint their individual marks on the greatest canvas in the world--the rapidly evolving skyline of New York City. Each man desired to build the city's tallest building, or 'skyscraper. ' Each would stop at nothing to outdo his rival. Van Alen was a creative genius who envisioned a bold, contemporary building that would move beyond the tired architecture of the previous century. By a stroke of good fortune he found a larger-than-life patron in automobile magnate Walter Chrysler, and they set out to build the legendary Chrysler building. Severance, by comparison, was a brilliant businessman, and he tapped his circle of downtown, old-money investors to begin construction on the Manhattan Company Building at 40 Wall Street. From ground-breaking to bricklaying, Van Alen and Severance fought a cunning duel of wills. Each man was forced to revamp his architectural design in an attempt to push higher, to overcome his rival in mid-construction, as the structures rose, floor by floor, in record time. Yet just as the battle was underway, a third party entered the arena and announced plans to build an even larger building. This project would be overseen by one of Chrysler's principal rivals--a representative of the General Motors group--and the building ultimately became known as The Empire State Building. Infused with narrative thrills and perfectly rendered historical and engineering detail, Higher brings to life a sensational episode in American history. Author Neal Bascomb interweaves characters such as Al Smith and Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt, leading up to an astonishing climax that illustrates one of the most ingenious (and secret) architectural achievements of all time.

Hunting Eichmann

by Neal Bascomb

Hunting Eichmannis the first complete narrative of a relentless and harrowing international manhunt. When the Allies stormed Berlin in the last days of the Third Reich, Adolf Eichmann shed his SS uniform and vanished. Following his escape from two American POW camps, his retreat into the mountains and out of Europe, and his path to an anonymous life in Buenos Aires, his pursuers are a bulldog West German prosecutor, a blind Argentinean Jew and his beautiful daughter, and a budding, ragtag spy agency called the Mossad, whose operatives have their own scores to settle (and whose rare surveillance photographs are published here for the first time). The capture of Eichmann and the efforts by Israeli agents to secret him out of Argentina to stand trial is the stunning conclusion to this thrilling historical account, told with the kind of pulse-pounding detail that rivals anything you'd find in great spy fiction.

The Nazi Hunters

by Neal Bascomb

A thrilling spy mission, a moving Holocaust story, and a first-class work of narrative nonfiction. In 1945, at the end of World War II, Adolf Eichmann, the head of operations for the Nazis' Final Solution, walked into the mountains of Germany and vanished from view. Sixteen years later, an elite team of spies captured him at a bus stop in Argentina and smuggled him to Israel, resulting in one of the century's most important trials -- one that cemented the Holocaust in the public imagination. THE NAZI HUNTERS is the thrilling and fascinating story of what happened between these two events. Survivor Simon Wiesenthal opened Eichmann's case; a blind Argentinean and his teenage daughter provided crucial information. Finally, the Israeli spies -- many of whom lost family in the Holocaust -- embarked on their daring mission, recounted here in full. Based on the adult bestseller HUNTING EICHMANN, which is now in development as a major film, and illustrated with powerful photos throughout, THE NAZI HUNTERS is a can't-miss work of narrative nonfiction for middle-grade and YA readers.

The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His First Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts

by Neal Bascomb

That Monday afternoon, in high-school gyms across America, kids were battling for the only glory American culture seems to want to dispense to the young these days: sports glory. But at Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, California, in a gear-cluttered classroom, a different type of "cool" was brewing. A physics teacher with a dream - the first public high-school teacher ever to win a MacArthur Genius Award -- had rounded up a band of high-I.Q. students who wanted to put their technical know-how to work. If you asked these brainiacs what the stakes were that first week of their project, they'd have told you it was all about winning a robotics competition - building the ultimate robot and prevailing in a machine-to-machine contest in front of 25,000 screaming fans at Atlanta's Georgia Dome. But for their mentor, Amir Abo-Shaeer, much more hung in the balance. The fact was, Amir had in mind a different vision for education, one based not on rote learning -- on absorbing facts and figures -- but on active creation. In his mind's eye, he saw an even more robust academy within Dos Pueblos that would make science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) cool again, and he knew he was poised on the edge of making that dream a reality. All he needed to get the necessary funding was one flashy win - a triumph that would firmly put his Engineering Academy at Dos Pueblos on the map. He imagined that one day there would be a nation filled with such academies, and a new popular veneration for STEM - a "new cool" - that would return America to its former innovative glory. It was a dream shared by Dean Kamen, a modern-day inventing wizard - often-called "the Edison of his time" - who'd concocted the very same FIRST Robotics Competition that had lured the kids at Dos Pueblos. Kamen had created FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) nearly twenty years prior. And now, with a participant alumni base approaching a million strong, he felt that awareness was about to hit critical mass. But before the Dos Pueblos D'Penguineers could do their part in bringing a new cool to America, they'd have to vanquish an intimidating lineup of "super-teams"- high-school technology goliaths that hailed from engineering hot spots such as Silicon Valley, Massachusetts' Route 128 technology corridor, and Michigan's auto-design belt. Some of these teams were so good that winning wasn't just hoped for every year, it was expected. In The New Cool, Neal Bascomb manages to make even those who know little about - or are vaguely suspicious of - technology care passionately about a team of kids questing after a different kind of glory. In these kids' heartaches and headaches - and yes, high-five triumphs -- we glimpse the path not just to a new way of educating our youth but of honoring the crucial skills a society needs to prosper. A new cool.From the Hardcover edition.

The Perfect Mile

by Neal Bascomb

There was a time when running the mile in four minutes was believed to be beyond the limits of human foot speed, and in all of sport it was the elusive holy grail. In 1952, after suffering defeat at the Helsinki Olympics, three world-class runners each set out to break this barrier. Roger Bannister was a young English medical student who epitomized the ideal of the amateur - still driven not just by winning but by the nobility of the pursuit. John Landy was the privileged son of a genteel Australian family, who as a boy preferred butterfly collecting to running but who trained relentlessly in an almost spiritual attempt to shape his body to this singular task. Then there was Wes Santee, the swaggering American, a Kansas farm boy and natural athlete who believed he was just plain better than everybody else.Spanning three continents and defying the odds, their collective quest captivated the world and stole headlines from the Korean War, the atomic race, and such legendary figures as Edmund Hillary, Willie Mays, Native Dancer, and Ben Hogan. In the tradition of Seabiscuit and Chariots of Fire, Neal Bascomb delivers a breathtaking story of unlikely heroes and leaves us with a lasting portrait of the twilight years of the golden age of sport.

Red Mutiny

by Neal Bascomb

In 1905 more than seven hundred Russian sailors mutinied against their officers aboard the battleship Potemkin, one of the most powerful battleships in the world. Led by the charismatic firebrand Matyushenko, they risked their lives to take control of their ship and fly the red flag of revolution. What followed was a violent port-to-port chase that spanned eleven harrowing days and came to symbolize the Russian Revolution itself. This pulse-pounding story alternates between the opulent court of Nicholas II and the drama on the high seas. Neal Bascomb combines extensive research and fresh information from Soviet archives to tell the true story of the deadliest naval mutiny in history. Red Mutiny is a terrific adventure filled with epic naval battles, heroic sacrifices, treachery, bloodlust, and the rallying cries of freedom.

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