As a 26-year-old FBI agent, Eric O’Neill was assigned to spy on his supervisor at the time, Robert Hanssen, as part of an undercover investigation that led to Hanssen’s 2001 arrest for years of spying for the Soviets and later the Russians. The Kensington author, now 46, relied on journals he kept during the investigation to recreate dramatic scenes for his book, Gray Day: My Undercover Mission to Expose America’s First Cyber Spy (Crown, March 2019). O’Neill uses the Hanssen story to convey the ongoing threats to cybersecurity. “It’s not only your bank account, identity and personal information that is at risk,” says O’Neill, who also helped write the screenplay for Breach, a 2007 movie about the Hanssen case. “This is how nations are now attacking each other.”
Succeeding at finding common ground is not necessarily what America needs today, according to Bethesda’s Arthur Brooks. In fact, disagreeing with one another can be the secret to achieving excellence because doing so fosters competition, says the president of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. “The truth is nobody is persuading anybody in America today. Everybody is just locked down in a standoff,” Brooks says. “We shouldn’t disagree less. We should just disagree better.” In his new book, Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America From the Culture of Contempt (Broadside Books, March 2019), Brooks encourages Americans to help the nation heal by turning away from hateful rhetoric and listening thoughtfully to one another instead.
Meghan Cox Gurdon’s The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction (Harper, January 2019) combines the Bethesda author’s personal experience as a mother of five with the latest scientific research to make the case for reading aloud at every age, along with offering practical tips and book recommendations. “It’s an ancient and simple practice that has profound relevance today for making families and relationships stronger, happier, smarter,” says Gurdon, who also reviews children’s books for The Wall Street Journal. In an era when the use of devices is interfering with family connections and kids’ attention spans, Gurdon says the old-fashioned ritual of reading aloud can bring people together, expand a child’s vocabulary and foster imagination.
Because of the admiration and adulation accorded to the first astronauts who landed on the moon, Charles Fishman wanted to tell the story of the 410,000 scientists, engineers and factory workers whose creativity and determination made the mission happen. His book One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon (Simon & Schuster, June 2019) explains that every hour of the eight-day Apollo 11 space flight 50 years ago required 1 million hours of difficult work performed on Earth. “That level of intensity in terms of preparation, testing and inventing space flight—that’s crazy. That’s unprecedented. That’s what I wanted to capture,” says the author, who lives in Upper Northwest D.C., and is a former Washington Post reporter. “Americans will do things that are impossible if you ask them to.”