Breaking ThroughAdd to cart
A powerful memoir from Katalin Karikó, winner of the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, whose decades-long research led to the COVID-19 vaccines
“Katalin Karikó’s story is an inspiration.”—Bill Gates
“Riveting . . . a true story of a brilliant biochemist who never gave up or gave in.”—Bonnie Garmus, author of Lessons in Chemistry
Katalin Karikó has had an unlikely journey. The daughter of a butcher in postwar communist Hungary, Karikó grew up in an adobe home that lacked running water, and her family grew their own vegetables. She saw the wonders of nature all around her and was determined to become a scientist. That determination eventually brought her to the United States, where she arrived as a postdoctoral fellow in 1985 with $1,200 sewn into her toddler’s teddy bear and a dream to remake medicine.
Karikó worked in obscurity, battled cockroaches in a windowless lab, and faced outright derision and even deportation threats from her bosses and colleagues. She balked as prestigious research institutions increasingly conflated science and money. Despite setbacks, she never wavered in her belief that an ephemeral and underappreciated molecule called messenger RNA could change the world. Karikó believed that someday mRNA would transform ordinary cells into tiny factories capable of producing their own medicines on demand. She sacrificed nearly everything for this dream, but the obstacles she faced only motivated her, and eventually she succeeded.
Karikó’s three-decade-long investigation into mRNA would lead to a staggering achievement: vaccines that protected millions of people from the most dire consequences of COVID-19. These vaccines are just the beginning of mRNA’s potential. Today, the medical community eagerly awaits more mRNA vaccines—for the flu, HIV, and other emerging infectious diseases.
Breaking Through isn’t just the story of an extraordinary woman. It’s an indictment of closed-minded thinking and a testament to one woman’s commitment to laboring intensely in obscurity—knowing she might never be recognized in a culture that is driven by prestige, power, and privilege—because she believed her work would save lives.
Leonardo Da VinciAdd to cart
The #1 New York Times bestseller from Walter Isaacson brings Leonardo da Vinci to life in this exciting new biography that is “a study in creativity: how to define it, how to achieve it…Most important, it is a powerful story of an exhilarating mind and life” (The New Yorker).
Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo da Vinci’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, Walter Isaacson “deftly reveals an intimate Leonardo” (San Francisco Chronicle) in a narrative that connects his art to his science. He shows how Leonardo’s genius was based on skills we can improve in ourselves, such as passionate curiosity, careful observation, and an imagination so playful that it flirted with fantasy.
He produced the two most famous paintings in history, The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. With a passion that sometimes became obsessive, he pursued innovative studies of anatomy, fossils, birds, the heart, flying machines, botany, geology, and weaponry. He explored the math of optics, showed how light rays strike the cornea, and produced illusions of changing perspectives in The Last Supper. His ability to stand at the crossroads of the humanities and the sciences, made iconic by his drawing of Vitruvian Man, made him history’s most creative genius.
In the “luminous” (Daily Beast) Leonardo da Vinci, Isaacson describes how Leonardo’s delight at combining diverse passions remains the ultimate recipe for creativity. So, too, does his ease at being a bit of a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, and at times heretical. His life should remind us of the importance to be imaginative and, like talented rebels in any era, to think different. Here, da Vinci “comes to life in all his remarkable brilliance and oddity in Walter Isaacson’s ambitious new biography…a vigorous, insightful portrait” (The Washington Post).
TeslaAdd to cart
Genius. Visionary. Madman.
Nikola Tesla (1856–1943) was the pioneering genius who invented the AC electrical system that powers our world to this day, as well as radio, remote control, the automobile speedometer, X-ray photography, the AND logic gate that drives all our computer systems, and countless other devices and precursors to devices such as cell phones, television, and the Internet that we so effortlessly use today.
Strikingly handsome and charismatic, fluent in half a dozen languages, mathematics savant and master machinist, a reed-thin perfectionist who quoted poetry like a Victorian rapper, Tesla became one of the most famous men of his day. Friend of tycoons like John Jacob Astor and Stanford White and celebrities like Mark Twain and Sarah Bernhardt.
Yet Tesla was an intensely driven and lonely man, beset by inner demons, and cursed with a protean inventive imagination a century ahead of his time. He died in obscurity and poverty and, to this day, his name is not widely known. How did that happen?
Blending historical fact with speculative imagination, Lisa Mason explores the secrets of the Inventor’s inner life and his obsession with Goethe’s Faust set against the backdrop of sweeping technological changes at the turn of the twentieth century that have forever changed our world.
From the author of THE GARDEN OF ABRACADABRA, SUMMER OF LOVE (A Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book), THE GILDED AGE (A New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book), CELESTIAL GIRL (A LILY MODJESKA MYSTERY), ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF ALEXA, and STRANGE LADIES: 7 STORIES.
A list of Sources follows the Screenplay, which was read by the producer of “Aliens” and “The Abyss” and is currently under submission to another producer.
“Fabulous screenplay.” Lewis Shiner, award-winning author of Glimpses, Frontera, Slam, and Collected Stories.
The Oracle of OilAdd to cart
The first comprehensive biography of Marion King Hubbert, the “father of peak oil.” In 1956, geologist and Shell Oil researcher Marion King Hubbert delivered a speech that has shaped world energy debates ever since. Addressing the American Petroleum Institute, Hubbert dropped a bombshell on his audience: U.S. oil production would peak by 1970 and decline steadily thereafter. World production would follow the same fate, reaching its peak soon after the turn of the millennium. In battles stretching over decades, Hubbert defended his forecasts against opponents from both the oil industry and government. Hubbert was proved largely correct during the energy crises of the 1970s and hailed as a “prophet” and an “oracle.” Even amid our twenty-first-century fracking boom, Hubbert’s underlying logic holds true—while remaining a source of debate and controversy. A rich biography of the man behind peak oil, The Oracle of Oil follows Hubbert from his early days as a University of Chicago undergraduate to his first, ill-fated forays into politics in the midcentury Technocracy movement, and charts his rise as a top geologist in the oil industry and energy expert within the U.S. government. In a deeply researched narrative that mines Hubbert’s papers and correspondence for the first time, award-winning journalist Mason Inman rescues the story of a man who shocked the scientific community with his eccentric brilliance. The Oracle of Oil also skillfully situates Hubbert in his era: a time of great intellectual ferment and discovery, tinged by dark undercurrents of intellectual witch hunts. Hubbert emerges as an unapologetic iconoclast who championed sustainability through his lifelong quest to wean the United States—and the wider world—off fossil fuels, as well as by questioning the pursuit of never-ending growth. In its portrait of a man whose prescient ideas still resonate today, The Oracle of Oil looks to the past to find a guiding philosophy for our future.
Jony IveAdd to cart
“An adulating biography of Apple’s left-brained wunderkind, whose work continues to revolutionize modern technology.” —Kirkus Reviews
In 1997, Steve Jobs discovered a scruffy British designer toiling away at Apple’s headquarters, surrounded by hundreds of sketches and prototypes. Jony Ive’s collaboration with Jobs would produce some of the world’s most iconic technology products, including the iMac, iPod, iPad, and iPhone. Ive’s work helped reverse Apple’s long decline, overturned entire industries, and created a huge global fan base. Yet little is known about the shy, soft-spoken whiz whom Jobs referred to as his “spiritual partner.”
Leander Kahney offers a detailed portrait of the English art school student with dyslexia who became the most acclaimed tech designer of his generation. Drawing on interviews with Ive’s former colleagues and Apple insiders, Kahney “takes us inside the creation of these memorable objects.” (The Wall Street Journal)
If ThenAdd to cart
James has a scar in the back of his head. It’s where he was wounded in the Battle of Suvla Bay on August 1915. Or is the scar the mark of his implant that allows the Process to fill his mind with its own reality?In IF, the people of a small English town cling on after everything fell apart under the protection of the Process, the computer system that runs every aspect of their lives. But sometimes people must be evicted from the town. That’s the job of James, the bailiff. While on patrol, James discovers the replica of a soldier from the First World War wandering the South Downs. This strange meeting begins a new cycle of evictions in the town, while out on the rolling downland, the Process is methodically growing the soldiers and building the weapons required to relive a long lost battle. In THEN, it is August 1915, at the Battle of Suvla Bay in the Dardanelles campaign. Compared to the thousands of allied soldiers landing on this foreign beach, the men of the 32nd Field Ambulance are misfits and cranks of every stripe: a Quaker pacifist, a freethinking padre, a meteorologist, and the private (once a bailiff) known simply as James. Exposed to constant shellfire and haunted by ghostly snipers, the stretcher-bearers work day and night on the long carry of wounded men. One night they stumble across an ancient necropolis, disturbed by an exploding shell. What they discover within this ancient site will make them question the reality of the war and shake their understanding of what it means to be human…
The Invention of MiraclesAdd to cart
Finalist for the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography Finalist for the Mark Lynton History Prize “Meticulously researched, crackling with insights, and rich in novelistic detail” (Steve Silberman), this “provocative, sensitive, beautifully written biography” (Sylvia Nasar) tells the true—and troubling—story of Alexander Graham Bell’s quest to end deafness. “Researched and written through the Deaf perspective, this marvelously engaging history will have us rethinking the invention of the telephone.” —Jaipreet Virdi, PhD, author of Hearing Happiness: Deafness Cures in History We think of Alexander Graham Bell as the inventor of the telephone, but that’s not how he saw his own career. As the son of a deaf woman and, later, husband to another, his goal in life from adolescence was to teach deaf students to speak. Even his tinkering sprang from his teaching work; the telephone had its origins as a speech reading machine. The Invention of Miracles takes a “stirring” (The New York Times Book Review), “provocative” (The Boston Globe), “scrupulously researched” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) new look at an American icon, revealing the astonishing true genesis of the telephone and its connection to another, far more disturbing legacy of Bell’s: his efforts to suppress American Sign Language. Weaving together a dazzling tale of innovation with a moving love story, the book offers a heartbreaking account of how a champion can become an adversary and an enthralling depiction of the deaf community’s fight to reclaim a once-forbidden language. Katie Booth has been researching this story for more than fifteen years, poring over Bell’s papers, Library of Congress archives, and the records of deaf schools around America. But she’s also lived with this story for her entire life. Witnessing the damaging impact of Bell’s legacy on her family would set her on a path that overturned everything she thought she knew about language, power, deafness, and the telephone.
Isaac Newton, the Asshole Who Reinvented the UniverseAdd to cart
A blunt and humorous profile of Isaac Newton focusing on his disagreeable personality and showing that his offputting qualities were key to his scientific breakthroughs.Isaac Newton may have been the most important scientist in history, but he was a very difficult man. Put more bluntly, he was an asshole, an SOB, or whatever epithet best describes an abrasive egomaniac. In this colorful profile of the great man—warts and all—astronomer Florian Freistetter shows why this damning assessment is inescapable.Newton’s hatred of fellow scientist Robert Hooke knew no bounds and he was strident in expressing it. He stole the work of colleague John Flamsteed, ruining his career without a second thought. He carried on a venomous battle with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz over the invention of calculus, vilifying him anonymously while the German scientist was alive and continuing the attacks after he died. All evidence indicates that Newton was conniving, sneaky, resentful, secretive, and antisocial. Compounding the mystery of his strange character is that he was also a religious fanatic, a mystery-monger who spent years studying the Bible and predicted the apocalypse.While documenting all of these unusual traits, the author makes a convincing case that Newton would have never revolutionized physics if he hadn’t been just such an obnoxious person. This is a fascinating character study of an astounding genius and—if truth be told—an almighty asshole as well.
Isaac NewtonAdd to cart
This book traces the life of Isaac Newton, from his early childhood and education through his sources of inspiration and challenges faced, early successes, and the work on gravity and light for which he is best known. A timeline at the end of the book summarizes key milestones and achievements of Newton’s life.
Inside Steve’s BrainAdd to cart
One of USA Today’s Best Business Books of 2008-now updated with a new chapterIt’s hard to believe that one man revolutionized computers in the 1970s and ’80s (with the Apple II and the Mac), animated movies in the 1990s (with Pixar), and digital music in the 2000s (with the iPod and iTunes). No wonder some people worship Steve Jobs like a god. On the other hand, stories of his epic tantrums and general bad behavior are legendary. Inside Steve’s Brain cuts through the cult of personality that surrounds Jobs to unearth the secrets to his unbelievable results. So what’s really inside Steve’s brain? According to Leander Kahney, who has covered Jobs since the early 1990s, it’s a fascinating bundle of contradictions. This expanded edition includes a new chapter on Jobs’s very public health crisis and the debate about Apple’s future.
The Code BreakerAdd to cart
A Best Book of 2021 by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Time, and The Washington Post
The bestselling author of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs returns with a “compelling” (The Washington Post) account of how Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues launched a revolution that will allow us to cure diseases, fend off viruses, and have healthier babies.
When Jennifer Doudna was in sixth grade, she came home one day to find that her dad had left a paperback titled The Double Helix on her bed. She put it aside, thinking it was one of those detective tales she loved. When she read it on a rainy Saturday, she discovered she was right, in a way. As she sped through the pages, she became enthralled by the intense drama behind the competition to discover the code of life. Even though her high school counselor told her girls didn’t become scientists, she decided she would.
Driven by a passion to understand how nature works and to turn discoveries into inventions, she would help to make what the book’s author, James Watson, told her was the most important biological advance since his codiscovery of the structure of DNA. She and her collaborators turned a curiosity of nature into an invention that will transform the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA. Known as CRISPR, it opened a brave new world of medical miracles and moral questions.
The development of CRISPR and the race to create vaccines for coronavirus will hasten our transition to the next great innovation revolution. The past half-century has been a digital age, based on the microchip, computer, and internet. Now we are entering a life-science revolution. Children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study genetic code.
Should we use our new evolution-hacking powers to make us less susceptible to viruses? What a wonderful boon that would be! And what about preventing depression? Hmmm…Should we allow parents, if they can afford it, to enhance the height or muscles or IQ of their kids?
After helping to discover CRISPR, Doudna became a leader in wrestling with these moral issues and, with her collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, won the Nobel Prize in 2020. Her story is an “enthralling detective story” (Oprah Daily) that involves the most profound wonders of nature, from the origins of life to the future of our species.