Overview On Books Written By Local Bethesda Area Authors

Book Report

A book on Army heroes, a guide to teaching college, and more new reads from local authors

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women-heroesLong before gender restrictions for military service were lifted in 2016, women served in America’s armed forces. Kensington’s Ann McCallum Staats tells the stories of 14 women who answered the call to serve in Women Heroes of the U.S. Army: Remarkable Soldiers from the American Revolution to Today (Chicago Review Press, July 2019). The Rockville High School teacher gathered information from documents at the U.S. Army Women’s Museum in Fort Lee, Virginia, and interviewed some of her subjects to craft the young adult book for ages 12 and older. “Many of the women came from humble roots, yet they did these extraordinary things with their lives—some were more heroic in the classic sense, others were more typical,” Staats says.


collegeToo often, Chris Palmer says, professors conduct classes by droning on while students passively take notes. In his new book, College Teaching at Its Best: Inspiring Students To Be Enthusiastic, Lifelong Learners (Rowman & Littlefield, May 2019), the retired American University communications professor encourages an interactive approach to engage students with passion. “You can make the class much more interesting and learning oriented if you help students to be active, discussing and questioning. Have them work in pairs and stand up in front of the class to give a little talk,” says Palmer, a Bethesda resident. “A good professor who is caring, enthusiastic, works hard, gives substantive comments and mentors can have a transformational impact on a student’s life.”


KochlandBusiness journalist Christopher Leonard realized he could tell the entire story of American capitalism by profiling one corporation: Koch Industries. “Koch is the hidden giant of our economy. This is a company whose annual sales are bigger than Facebook, Goldman Sachs and U.S. Steel combined,” the Silver Spring resident says. “This company specializes in the kinds of industries that we use to survive every day—gasoline, building materials, clothing materials, fertilizer that makes our food system work.” His book Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America (Simon & Schuster, August 2019) is the result of seven years of reporting on the privately held company based in Wichita, Kansas. It also covers other topics, including the world of blue-collar manufacturing and labor unions.


MurderBethesda’s James Johnston served as a staff lawyer on the 1975 Senate Intelligence Committee that investigated CIA plots to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro and their potential relationship to the 1963 death of President John F. Kennedy. The author pored over records in the National Archives— including national security documents and testimony declassified in 1998—to chronicle what happened inside the government for Murder, Inc.: The CIA Under John F. Kennedy (Potomac Books, August 2019). Johnston details how the Warren Commission, which investigated Kennedy’s death, was steered away from examining the possibility of foreign government involvement in the assassination. “History didn’t happen the way people thought it did,” Johnston says.

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