Books

Marc Aronson has worked as an editor and publisher as well as author. Listed here are his own books, however he greatly enjoys the collaborative process of book-making. Watch this space for a wide range of projects from apps, ibooks, and ebooks to anthologies.

Aronson has collaborated with award-winning experts including an historian, an archaeologist, a paleoanthropologist, and a classicist to share the stories of their discoveries. Each of these books aims to model the process of research and investigation, as well as to describe new, path-breaking, insights. 

Elementary / Middle Grade Books

In this extraordinarily well researched and insightful biography, Marc Aronson explores the amazing accomplishments and dismal failures of one of the most flamboyant figures of the Elizabethan age. Best remembered for laying his coat in a muddy puddle so that Queen Elizabeth I could walk across it, Sir Walter Ralegh (the way he spelled it) committed himself to pleasing his monarch and obtaining power in her court. He heroically risked his life in battle time and again, chasing after glory to win her favor.

His notoriously ill-fated quest for the mythological golden city of El Dorado was perhaps his grandest attempt, but it also was his undoing, and Ralegh ultimately paid for his mistakes with his life. Despite his shortcomings, he was not only charismatic and brave, he was brilliant as well, and his contributions to the New World and to western culture as a whole were vast and enduring.

This extensively researched and groundbreaking account by Sibert medalist Marc Aronson centers on events in the mid-18th century that enabled Americans to give up their loyalty to England and form their own nation. Shedding new light on familiar aspects of American history, such as the Boston Tea Party, and ending with the aftermath of the American Revolution, Aronson approaches the events that shaped our country from a fresh angle and connects them to issues that still exist in modern times. Also developed throughout is the pioneering idea that the struggle for American independence was actually part of a larger conflict that spanned the globe, reaching across Europe to India.

Packed with dramatic events, battles, and memorable figures such as George Washington and Tom Paine in America and Robert Clive in India, this insightful narrative provides a multi-layered portrait of how our nation came to be, while discovering anew the themes, images, and fascinating personalities that run through our entire history. Cast of characters, maps, endnotes and bibliography, Internet resources, timeline, index.

National Geographic has always given readers the bigger picture of our world. Now The World Made New shows children the bigger context of American history. Written by award-winning children’s author Marc Aronson and John W. Glenn, this innovative title will lead children through the causes and consequences of the defining age of exploration. Its unique approach will provide children with new ways of thinking about and learning from history, and instill a lasting sense of our country’s past.

The World Made New provides a detailed account of the charting of the New World and the long-term effects of America’s march into history. The text uses primary sources to bring history to life and features evocative profiles of the major explorers of the age. The book is beautifully illustrated with full-color artwork, multiple-time lines, and six custom National Geographic maps. The text and layout combine to provide an enlightening overview of New World exploration, and outline the historical context for the discoveries that literally changed the world.

Who was the real John Henry? The story of this legendary African-American figure has come down to us in so many songs, stories, and plays, that the facts are often lost. Nelson and Aronson present the famous folk song as a mystery to be unraveled, identifying the embedded clues within the lyrics, which they examine to uncover many surprising truths. They investigate the legend and reveals the real John Henry in this beautifully illustrated book.

The narrative is multilayered, interweaving the story of the building of the railroads, the period of Reconstruction, folk tales, American mythology, and an exploration of the tradition of work songs and their evolution into blues and rock and roll. 

Could Griffins have been real? When Adrienne Mayor carefully read the ancient Greek and Roman descriptions, this mythic hybrid of a lion and an eagle sounded like something people had actually seen. What could explain that evidence? After a decade of hunting through myths, poring over old maps, and tracing the discoveries of modern dinosaur hunters, she found the answer: awesome dinosaur fossils observed by ancient gold-hunters in the Gobi desert. Here is the story of one insightful, curious, and determined woman who solved the mystery of the Griffin, and invented a new science. Now she and others travel the world matching myths and fossils.

From the fossil hunter who discovered the Homo naledi fossils in September 2015, this book is an amazing account of Lee Berger’s 2008 hunt — with the help of his curious 9-year-old son — for a previously unknown species of ape-like creatures that may have been direct ancestors of modern humans. The discovery of two remarkably well preserved, two-million-year-old fossils of an adult female and young male, known as Australopiitecus sediba, has been hailed as one of the most important archaeological discoveries in history. The fossils reveal what may be one of humankind’s oldest ancestors.

Berger believes the skeletons they found on the Malapa site in South Africa could be the “Rosetta stone that unlocks our understanding of the genus Homo” and may just redesign the human family tree.

What are the secrets of the ancient stone circle? Were the carefully placed stones a burial site, an ancient calendar, a place of Druid worship…or even a site of sacrifice? World-renowned archaeologist Mike Parker-Pearson has spent the last seven years on a quest to answer these and many other questions. In If Stones Could Speak, award-winning author Marc Aronson joins the research crew and records their efforts to crack Stonehenge’s secrets. National Geographic helped sponsor the Riverside archeological team’s mission, and now young readers can journey behind the scenes to experience this groundbreaking story first-hand, through the eyes of the experts.

Mike and his team have revolutionized our understanding of Stonehenge by exploring the surrounding landscape for clues about the stones — an idea first suggested by a visitor from Madagascar. The results have been breathtaking: The team recently unearthed the largest Neolithic village ever found in England. Marc Aronson had total access to the site, the team, and their work over two seasons of digging and brings the inspirational story of the discoveries taking place at this World Historical Site to young readers. The informative and drama-driven text includes tales of dead bodies, cremations, feasting, and ancient rituals, as well as insights into the science of uncovering the ancient past.

Hey, Boys!

Want to have some fun? Maybe learn how to land an airplane in an emergency? Or fight off an alligator? Escape from being tied up? How about taking a ride on one of America’s scariest roller coasters? Learn how to make fake blood or turn a real bone into a pretzel. What if you could find out how to identify some of the world’s most horrifying creatures? Or learn the secret of making a blockbuster movie? What about guessing the top 11 greatest moments in sports history? Find buried treasure? And once you’ve found the treasure, find out just how much it would cost you to buy one of the world’s most expensive cars.

You’ll find all this―and much more―over 250 pages of the biggest, baddest, and best information on just about everything. Plus we’ve placed a special, mind-bending, solve-the-code puzzle on random pages throughout the book that will lead you to a really cool solution! Now, that’s fun!

Middle Grade / Young Adult Books

Now available.

Three starred reviews–School Library Journal, Booklist, Publishers Weekly

“All right people, listen to me about this book. This needs to be read by every person in the nation, handed to every teen and talked about at every school and across every dinner table.

Candy Cooper is a Pulitzer Prize finalist , veteran reporter and winner of the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting. Marc Aronson is the winner of the very first Sibert Award and his outstanding books for young people have won many awards.

All that experience is in play with this stellar book that chronicles the horrifying series of events, bad decisions, cover-ups and lies that destroyed the water system and trust of the already battered city of Flint, Michigan. Step by step, Cooper lays out the events, carefully documenting her work. The writing is clear and concise, easy to follow and understand. It is also a compelling account, as impossible to put down as a thriller and twice as horrifying because it actually happened to real people who are still suffering today.

As a Michigander myself and with family who live in Flint, this book is important to me on a personal level. But this is more than the story of just one city, one series of bad decisions, one account of escalating mistakes. Flint is the canary in the minefield that lies at the heart of urban America. Old water systems, lead pipes, aging infrastructures are everywhere. This scenario may be an extreme series of events but even a few of these issues or decisions could result in similar life-impacting results. How many cities even now have lead in the water? How many children have already been terribly impaired? How many “failing school systems” are really systems where lead damage affects the students?

This important and extremely well-written book is a critical warning to wake up and smell the coffee – and to seriously question what is in the water that coffee was made with. Do not miss this.” 

-First GoodReads Review

The incredible true story of the twelve boys trapped with their coach in a flooded cave in Thailand and their inspiring rescue.

On June 23, 2018, twelve members of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach were exploring the Tham Luang cave complex in northern Thailand when disaster struck. A rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels, trapping them as they took shelter on a shelf of the dark cave. Eight days of searching yielded no signs of life, but on July 2 they were discovered by two British divers. The boys and their coach were eventually rescued in an international operation that took three days. What could have been a terrible tragedy became an amazing story of survival.

The amazing story of the trapped Chilean miners and their incredible rescue that Publishers Weekly calls “a riveting, in-depth recounting of the events that held the world rapt.”

In early August 2010, the unthinkable happened when a mine collapsed in Copiano, Chile, trapping 33 miners 2,000 feet below the surface. For sixty-nine days they lived on meager resources with increasingly poor air quality. When they were finally rescued, the world watched with rapt attention and rejoiced in the amazing spirit and determination of the miners. What could have been a terrible tragedy became an amazing story of survival.

In Trapped, Marc Aronson provides the backstory behind the rescue. By tracing the psychological, physical, and environmental factors surrounding the mission, Aronson highlights the amazing technology and helping hands that made it all possible. From the Argentinean soccer players that hoped to raise morale, to NASA volunteering their expertise to come up with a plan, there was no shortage of enterprising spirit when it came to saving lives. Readers will especially appreciate the eight pages of full-color photos, timeline, glossary, notes, and more.

“King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. . . . You better take it before your filthy, abnormal, fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”

Dr. Martin Luther King received this demand in an anonymous letter in 1964. He believed that the letter was telling him to commit suicide. Who wrote this anonymous letter? The FBI. And the man behind it all was J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI’s first director. In this unsparing exploration of one of the most powerful Americans of the twentieth century, accomplished historian Marc Aronson unmasks the man behind the Bureau- his tangled family history and personal relationships; his own need for secrecy, deceit, and control; and the broad trends in American society that shaped his world. Hoover may have given America the security it wanted, but the secrets he knew gave him — and the Bureau — all the power he wanted. Using photographs, cartoons, movie posters, and FBI transcripts, Master of Deceit gives readers the necessary evidence to make their own conclusions. Here is a book about the twentieth century that blazes with questions and insights about our choices in the twenty-first.

When the award-winning husband-and-wife team of Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos discovered that they each had sugar in their family history, they were inspired to trace the globe-spanning story of the sweet substance and to seek out the voices of those who led bitter sugar lives.

The trail ran like a bright band from religious ceremonies in India to Europe’s Middle Ages, then on to Columbus, who brought the first cane cuttings to the Americas. Sugar was the substance that drove the bloody slave trade and caused the loss of countless lives but it also planted the seeds of revolution that led to freedom in the American colonies, Haiti, and France. With songs, oral histories, maps, and over 80 archival illustrations, here is the story of how one product allows us to see the grand currents of world history in new ways. Time line, source notes, bibliography, index.

Salem, Massachusetts, 1692. In a plain meetinghouse a woman stands before her judges. The accusers, girls and young women, are fervent and overexcited. The accused is a poor, unpopular woman who had her first child before she was married.

As the trial proceeds the girls begin to wail, tear their clothing, and scream that the woman is hurting them. Some of them expose wounds to the horrified onlookers, holding out the pins that have stabbed them — pins that appeared as if by magic. Are they acting or are they really tormented by an unseen evil? Whatever the cause, the nightmare has begun: The witch trials will eventually claim twenty-five lives, shatter the community, and forever shape the American social conscience.

Israel.

The word itself can mean “arguing with God,” and talking about Israel can start endless arguments about politics, history, morality, and prejudice. Unsettled, Marc Aronson’s most deeply personal book to date, explores the history of Israel, from the beginning of the Zionist movement to the birth of Israel as a state in 1948 to the intense conflicts over Israel, the Palestinians, and the Jewish settlements of today.

Along the way Aronson intersperses stories from his own family’s long experiences in Israel while asking and answering such questions as: Can a religious state also be a democratic one? Is Israel the victim or the aggressor? Do modern states have moral obligations? And perhaps the most troubling question of all: What kind of Israel should exist? Once again, Aronson has created history for young adults that is exciting, probing, clear, and most of all, fearless.

How could one teenage boy’s life elicit other kids’ first experiences — even after he dies? Nine interconnected stories from nine top YA writers.

Kev’s the first kid their age to die. And now, even though he’s dead, he’s not really gone. Even now his choices are touching the people he left behind. Ellen Hopkins reveals what two altar boys (and one altar girl) might get up to at the cemetery. Rita Williams-Garcia follows one aimless teen as he finds a new life in his new job — at the mortuary. Will Weaver turns a lens on Kevin’s sister as she collects his surprising effects — and makes good use of them. Here, in nine stories, we meet people who didn’t know Kevin, friends from his childhood, his ex-girlfriend, his best friend, all dealing with the fallout of his death. Being a teenager is a time for all kinds of firsts — first jobs, first loves, first good-byes, firsts that break your heart and awaken your soul. It’s an initiation of sorts, and it can be brutal. But on the other side of it is the rest of your life.

“Nine all-stars in the field of YA lit contribute stories. . . . An anthology of stand-alone stories that invite — no, demand — a straight read-through.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)

Nine of YA literature’s top writers, including Walter Dean Myers, Rita Williams-Garcia, Adam Rapp, Joseph Bruchac, and Sharon Flake reveal how it all goes down in a searing collection of short stories, in which each one picks up where the previous one ends. Characters weave in and out of narratives, perspectives change, and emotions play out for a fluid and fast-paced ode to the game of street basketball. Crackling with humor, grit, and streetball philosophy, and featuring poems and photographs by Charles R. Smith Jr., this anthology is a slam dunk.

Race. You know it at a glance: he’s black; she’s white. They’re Asian; we’re Latino.

Racism. I’m better; she’s worse. Those people do those kinds of things.

We all know it’s wrong to make these judgments, but they come faster than thought. Why? Where did those feelings come from? Why are they so powerful? Why have millions been enslaved, murdered, denied their rights because of the color of their skin, the shape of their eyes?

Acclaimed young-adult historian Marc Aronson tackles these and other questions in this astounding book, which traces the history of racial prejudice in Western culture back to ancient Sumer and beyond. He shows us Greeks dividing the world into civilized and barbarian, medieval men writing about the traits of monstrous men, until, finally, Enlightenment scientists scrap all those mythologies and come up with a new one: charts spelling out the traits of human races.

Aronson’s journey of discovery yields many surprising discoveries. For instance, throughout most of human history, slavery had nothing to do with race. In fact, the idea of race itself did not exist in the West before the 1600s. But once the idea was established and backed up by “scientific” theory, its influence grew with devastating consequences, from the appalling lynchings in the American South to the catastrophe known as the Holocaust in Europe.

Bill Gates was many things: the richest person in the world; the ruthless businessman who co-founded Microsoft and led it to domination of the computer software industry; and the leading global philanthropist.

When Gates was born in 1955, no one in the world owned a personal computer. A window had a pane of glass. A mouse was a rodent. As a teenager, Gates realized how computers were about to change the world, and made his fortune by riding that wave; modern teens look to him as their model of how technology can be turned into wealth. Marc Aronson’s biography is a probing portrait of a man whose name is a household word.

“The book’s strength lies in the way different voices and different angles come together into an integrated whole. Fascinating and accomplished.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Welcome to 1968 — a revolution in a book. Essays, memoirs, and more by fourteen award-winning authors offer unique perspectives on one of the world’s most tumultuous years. As thousands of Vietnamese and Americans were killed in war, students across four continents took over colleges and city streets. Assassins murdered Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy. Generations battled, and the world wobbled on the edge of a vast change that was exhilarating one day and terrifying the next. As we face our own moments of crisis and division, 1968 reminds us that we’ve clashed before and found a way forward — and that looking back can help map a way ahead.

1789 Cover

As they did in their previous anthology, 1968: Today’s Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution & Change, the editors take a pivotal year in world history and, through eleven essays (by authors including themselves, Joyce Hansen, Steven Sheinkin, and Summer Edward), explore global revolutionary themes in math, science, philosophy, art, government, and religion as well as the individuals who embody them. These “rebels” include a missionary, a geologist, an artist, two enslaved people, and a group of French fishwives. While proclamations about the “rights of man” appear to stress the worth of every individual, the global realities were often different. The editors’ introduction asks, “What is a man?” and the subsequent discussions cement the idea that it is white males who were “created equal”: women, native populations, and enslaved individuals enjoyed no such status, although their stories offer a glimpse into the tension inherent between the high-minded statements of the Enlightenment and the everyday realities of marginalized members of the population. Aronson’s chapter, “The Choice,” crystalizes this conflict, as readers learn that Thomas Jefferson could not only co-author The Rights of Man but also enslave people (and father children with teenage Sally Hemings). Each essay can be appreciated individually, but the overall picture, of societies reconciling competing ideas of science and faith or equality and oppression, becomes clearer throughout the book. Appended with author notes, documentation, and a complete bibliography of sources. –Betty Carter, The Horn Book

Books
Books
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In the army, the advance guard is the first wave of soldiers who rush into enemy territory, risking their lives to map out the terrain. In the arts, the avant-garde consists of people who have devoted their talents, even their lives, to seeing the future and to confronting others with their visions.

This intriguing introduction to modern art examines the avant-garde from its nineteenth-century origins in Paris to its meaning and influence today. It presents the visionaries who took the greatest risks, who saw the furthest, and who made the most challenging art-art that changed how we imagine our world. From cubism to pop art and beyond, this is the story not only of those risk takers, but of their creations and of the times in which they lived. Notes, bibliography, index.

Young Adult / Adult Books

“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.” –Robert Capa

Robert Capa and Gerda Taro were young Jewish refugees, idealistic and in love. As photographers in the 1930s, they set off to capture their generation’s most important struggle―the fight against fascism. Among the first to depict modern warfare, Capa, Taro, and their friend Chim took powerful photographs of the Spanish Civil War that went straight from the action to news magazines. They brought a human face to war with their iconic shots of a loving couple resting, a wary orphan, and, always, more and more refugees―people driven from their homes by bombs, guns, and planes.

Today, our screens are flooded with images from around the world. But Capa and Taro were pioneers, bringing home the crises and dramas of their time―and helping give birth to the idea of bearing witness through technology.

With a cast of characters ranging from Langston Hughes and George Orwell to Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway, and packed with dramatic photos, posters, and cinematic magazine layouts, here is Capa and Taro’s riveting, tragic, and ultimately inspiring story.

This thoroughly-researched and documented book can be worked into multiple aspects of the common core curriculum.

In a provocative anthology, two editors with opposing viewpoints present an unflinching collection of works reflecting on the nature of war.

Marc Aronson thinks war is inevitable. Patty Campbell thinks war is cruel, deceptive, and wrong. But both agree on one thing: that teens need to hear the truthful voices of those who have experienced war firsthand. The result is this dynamic selection of essays, memoirs, letters, and fiction from nearly than twenty contributors, both contemporary and historical — ranging from Christian Bauman’s wrenching “Letter to a Young Enlistee” to Chris Hedges’s unflinching look at combat to Fumiko Miura’s Nagasaki memoir, “A Survivor’s Tale.” Whether the speaker is Mark Twain, World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle, or a soldier writing a miliblog, these divergent pieces look war straight in the face — and provide an invaluable resource for teenagers today.

For nearly a decade Marc Aronson ran an imprint dedicated to international and multicultural literature for teens. He was known in the industry for publishing “edgy” books, and for his commitment to bringing the experiences of non-dominant authors and illustrators to the world. Yet in the summer of 2001 he wrote an essay that argued against awards, such as the Pure Belpre and Coretta Scott King prizes, for which you must be a member of a given ethnic group to win. Not surprisingly, his article was very controversial; and the author and publisher Andrea Davis Pinkney who had created an imprint specifically designed to be of, by, and for African Americans, published a thoughtful reply.

Here, in Beyond the Pale, Aronson explains the passionate convictions that led him to write his essay, and outlines objections made by others; then reprints the original alongside Pinkney’s response. As Aronson prepared a formal response to his critics, the attacks of September 11th took place. This tragedy simultaneously made a squabble among authors seem petty, and the issues around art, society, and cultural diversity all the more important.

Throughout 2001 and 2002, Aronson wrote essays in which he weighed out how art, history, and books for younger readers could respond to the altered world. As in his previous collection, Exploding the Myths, the Truth About Teenagers and Reading, he exposes the mythologies and false beliefs that distort our understanding of books and their readers. Provocative and informative, this collection of essays will challenge those who know children’s literature well to think in new ways, while linking the debates within that industry to the wider intellectual currents of our time.

We are in the midst of the largest teenage population boom since the nineteen sixties, and all of the media are scrambling to reach this alert, savvy, wealthy, and self-conscious generation. But for authors, editors, parents, teachers, and librarians this large group of readers poses a series of special problems: what is too old, or too young for teenage eyes? Should there even be a literature for teenagers, or wouldn’t they be better off skipping ahead to adult books? Do boys read at all? Can books offer moral instruction, role models, or guidance on the path to adulthood? Where do books fit into the ever-growing set of multimedia options that are this generation’s birthright?

Marc Aronson, Ph.D. has won the LMP, the industry award for editing, and the Boston Globe Horn Book award for writing books for teenagers. Here, in a series of probing, innovative essays he marshals a decade of insights earned in practice as well as his knowledge as a scholar of publishing history, to pose and answer key questions about the true potential of young adult literature. As he revels in the passion of its readers he exposes the real problem with teenagers and reading: adult myths, projections, and blind prejudices. Exploding the Myths is a provocative book that will be necessary reading for everyone who deals with this burgeoning generation of readers.