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A stunning investigation of the roots of the first moon landing forty years ago. This illuminating story of the dawn of the space age reaches back to the reactionary modernism of the Third Reich, using the life of "rocket scientist" Wernher von Braun as its narrative path through the crumbling of Weimar Germany and the rise of the Nazi regime. Von Braun, a blinkered opportunist who could apply only tunnel vision to his meteoric career, stands as an archetype of myriad twentieth century technologists who thrived under regimes of military secrecy and unlimited money. His seamless transformation from developer of the deadly V-2 ballistic missile for Hitler to an American celebrity as the supposed genius behind the golden years of the U.S. space program in the 1950s and 1960s raises haunting questions about the culture of the Cold War, the shared values of technology in totalitarian and democratic societies, and the imperatives of material progress.
From the ravages of the Ebola virus in Zaire to outbreaks of pneumonic plague in India and drug-resistant TB in New York City, contagious diseases are fighting back against once-unconquerable modern medicine. Public concern about infectious disease is on the rise as newspapers trumpet the arrivals of new germs and the reemergence of old ones. In A Field Guide to Germs, Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Wayne Biddle brings readers face to face with nearly one hundred of the best-known (in terms of prevalence, power, historical importance, or even literary interest) of the myriad pathogens that live in and around the human population. Along with physical descriptions of the organisms and the afflictions they cause, the author provides folklore, philosophy, history, and such illustrations as nineteenth century drawings of plague-induced panic, microscopic photographs of HIV and Ebola, and wartime posters warning servicemen against syphilis and gonorrhea. From cholera to chlamydia, TB to HIV, bubonic plague to Lyme disease, rabies to Congo-Crimean encephalitis, anthrax to Zika fever, and back to good old rhinitis (the common cold), A Field Guide to Germs is both a handy reference work to better understand today's headlines and a fascinating look at the astonishing impact of micro-organisms on social and political history.
A comprehensive and accessible guide to understanding how radiation affects our everyday lives Nuclear energy, X-rays, radon, cell phones . . . radiation is part of the way we live on a daily basis, and yet the sources and repercussions of our exposure to it remain mysterious. Now Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Wayne Biddle offers a first-of-its-kind guide to understanding this fundamental aspect of the universe. From fallout to radiation poisoning, alpha particles to cosmic rays, Biddle illuminates the history, meaning, and health implications of one hundred scientific terms in succinct, witty essays. A Field Guide to Radiation is an essential, engaging handbook that offers wisdom and common sense for today's increasingly nuclear world. .
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