I’m a book author as well as a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine; my journalism and reviews also appear in Wired, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and a number of other print and digital publications. In my magazine and newspaper writing I usually focus on contemporary issues in science, technology, and business. In my books, however, I’m more interested in telling the stories of historical endeavors, or historical episodes, which have had a significant but underappreciated influence on our lives. To put it slightly differently: I’m trying to pay close attention to certain aspects of our past so we can better understand the present, and perhaps the future.
My first book, The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation, was published by Penguin Press in 2012. The book chronicles the exploits of a generation of scientists working at the 20th Century’s greatest laboratory and explores the methods and importance of technological innovation. More recently, The Ice at the End of the World details 150 years of exploration and investigation on the Greenland ice sheet, beginning in the 1880s. The book is in many respects a story about the process of scientific discovery, and aims to explain how the work in Greenland, aided by an evolving array of technological tools, has led us to a profound understanding of our current climate crisis.
For my books and magazine features, I get out into the field as much as I can. In researching Bell Labs, I dug through corporate archives for many years and travelled all over the country to amass hundreds of hours of interviews with the scientists and engineers who worked at the laboratory. For the Greenland book, I travelled to the island six times and interviewed scientists in Europe and around the United States, again compiling hundreds of hours of interviews. In the Arctic, I slept by calving glaciers, drank from meltwater streams, joined with NASA teams measuring the ice sheet, and cruised through iceberg-strewn waters in the strange light of Arctic midnight. One of my hopes is that this book helps readers experience at least some of what I encountered—the grace and wonder, and the increasing fragility, of the far frozen north.
I live in New Jersey with my wife and kids. I’m a lifelong New Jersey native, in fact, and I grew up in the town of Berkeley Heights, not far from where I live now. For speaking engagements, please contact the Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau. I’m represented by Sarah Burnes at The Gernert Company. Finally: Many thanks for visiting these pages. Please browse the stories and links; and please, take your time.