Bethesda’s Rita Colwell, a microbiologist and distinguished professor at the University of Maryland and at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, was the first woman to lead the National Science Foundation (she was the director from 1998 to 2004). In her book A Lab of One’s Own: One Woman’s Personal Journey Through Sexism in Science (Simon & Schuster, August 2020), written with Sharon Bertsch McGrayne of Seattle, Colwell chronicles the obstacles women have faced, how they’ve pushed back, and ways to reform the sector to be more inclusive. “I thought it was important for women interested in science, technology, engineering, math and medicine to understand they had a great future and not to be dissuaded,” Colwell says.


After writing A Hole in the Wind: A Climate Scientist’s Bicycle Journey Across the United States (2017), David Goodrich rode through Canada and North Dakota to give readers a glimpse of the oil and gas industry. A Voyage Across an Ancient Ocean: A Bicycle Journey Through the Northern Dominion of Oil (Pegasus, August 2020) shows the impact production is having on the environment, the reliance of communities on extraction to fuel their economies—and the resulting tension. “Almost everybody [there] has a climate story, even though they don’t call it that,” the Rockville author says. “They recognize things are changing—with animals, insects and plants—but because it’s so polarized, you mention the word climate and you get this pullback.”


Paul Dickson always wanted to write a book about World War II. Born in 1939, he remembers toys being in short supply because Fisher-Price was manufacturing ammunition boxes, and seeing wounded soldiers return to his neighborhood. The Garrett Park author spent nearly 15 years researching and writing The Rise of the G.I. Army 1940-1941: The Forgotten Story of How America Forged a Powerful Army Before Pearl Harbor (Atlantic Monthly Press, July 2020). He explains how a peacetime draft and smart military leadership transformed the Army to be ready for combat. “The war was won by a citizen army. These were guys who were yanked out of barbershops and banks,” Dickson says. “It’s a great story about America in divided times.”


Carlos Lozada, who lives in Bethesda, read more than 150 books about Donald Trump and his policies before writing What Were We Thinking: A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era (Simon & Schuster, October 2020). As the nonfiction book critic for The Washington Post, Lozada decided in 2015 to read about Trump to learn more about the New York City businessman as he gained political traction. After Trump was elected, books about him, the white working class and the resistance to his presidency started flooding the market. Often “more knee-jerk than incisive,” many were missed opportunities for reflection and obsessed with putting Trump at center stage, Lozada writes in the book.