John Ross read adventure stories by John Wesley Powell about going down the Colorado River. Later, while working as an editor at Smithsonian magazine, Ross ran across references to Powell’s work and was fascinated. Ross’ new book, The Promise of the Grand Canyon: John Wesley Powell’s Perilous Journey and His Vision for the American West (Viking, July 2018), is an account of the one-armed explorer’s life and emergence as a leading voice in land sustainability. “It was almost 150 years ago, but it really resonates with the current global climate change debate. I saw so many interesting parallels,” says Ross, who lives in Bethesda. “We’ve been having this discussion for a lot longer than the past 20 years.”


Chevy Chase author Allan Topol returns to the adventures of his Craig Page character in his new novel, Russian Resurgence (SelectBooks, April 2018). The sixth thriller in the American superspy series follows Page as he tries to thwart a plan by Russian leaders to re-create the Soviet empire in Europe. In this story, 12-year-old Nick joins the action after escaping his grandparents’ burning house in Potomac, which was set on fire by Russian thugs. “Happily, I had the chance to observe my two grandsons, who are now 15 and 16, when I was conceiving the book, so I could get tips from them and say, ‘Here’s the problem, how would you guys solve this? What would you do in this situation?’ ” Topol says.


Wendy Sherman blends her personal journey with a behind-the-scenes look at her experience as a top U.S. diplomat in her memoir, Not for the Faint of Heart: Lessons in Courage, Power & Persistence (PublicAffairs, September 2018). “The best things happened to me that I never expected because I was open to the possibility and had the courage to give it a whirl,” says the Bethesda resident. Sherman was trained as a social worker and had various jobs in politics. She was appointed undersecretary of state for political affairs in 2011 and became the lead negotiator on the Iran nuclear deal in 2015. “It doesn’t make me happy that [President Donald Trump] withdrew. It undermines our security,” Sherman says. “[But with anything] you do in life, there are bad terms and you have to persist if you believe in what you’re doing.”


The Marriage Counseling Workbook: 8 Steps to a Strong and Lasting Relationship (Althea Press, March 2018) is for couples at all stages who want to enhance their connection or need to repair their relationship, says author Emily Cook, a licensed marriage and family therapist who lives in Silver Spring and has a practice in Bethesda. The workbook is designed to prompt conversations on classic problems—everything from communication to intimacy to money. Rather than preaching, Cook says the interactive approach allows partners to learn by doing. “A lot of what is helpful and accessible about couples therapy doesn’t need to only exist behind closed doors,” she says. “Many couples already have skills to strengthen their relationship, but they just need a little bit of guidance and support.”