When the first TV newscast described a SARS-like flu affecting a distant Chinese metropolis, investigative journalist Elaine Dewar started asking questions: Was SARS-CoV-2 something that came from nature, as leading scientists insisted, or did it come from a lab, and what role might controversial experiments have played in its development? Why was Wuhan the pandemic's ground zero—and why, on the other side of the Atlantic, had two researchers been marched out of a lab in Winnipeg by the RCMP? Why were governments so slow to respond to the emerging pandemic, and why, now, is the government of China refusing to cooperate with the World Health Organization? And who, or what, is DRASTIC?
Locked down in Toronto with the world at a standstill, Dewar pored over newspapers and magazines, preprints and peer-reviewed journals, email chains and blacked-out responses to access to information requests; she conducted Zoom interviews and called telephone numbers until someone answered as she hunted down the truth of the virus’s origin. In this compulsive whodunnit, she reads the science, follows the money, connects the geopolitical interests to the spin—and shows how leading science journals got it wrong, leaving it to interested citizens and junior scientists to pull out the truth.
- HOW CANADA'S BOOK PUBLISHER MCCLELLAND & STEWART BECAME GERMAN-OWNED, THE CURRENT
- THE HANDOVER: HOW BIG WIGS AND BUREAUCRATS TRANSFERRED CANADA'S BEST PUBLISHER AND THE BEST PART OF OUR LITERARY HERITAGE TO A FOREIGN MULTINATIONAL, PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY (STARRED REVIEW)
- HOW CANADA SOLD OUT ITS PUBLISHING INDUSTRY, THE WALRUS
- REVIEW: ELAINE DEWAR'S THE HANDOVER EXPLORES THE FATE OF A CANLIT INSTITUTION, THE GLOBE AND MAIL
- WHAT HAPPENED WHEN A BELOVED BOOK PUBLISHER CHANGED HANDS, THE GLOBE AND MAIL
- INSIDE THE SELL OFF OF CANADA'S LITERARY HERITAGE, MACLEANS
- SELLING THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT, THE NATIONAL POST
- ELAINE DEWAR ON M&S, THE CULTURE OF FEAR, AND WRITING HER NEW INVESTIGATIVE BOOK, THE HANDOVER, QUILL AND QUIRE
- BOOK VALUE, LITERARY REVIEW OF CANADA
- MOST ANTICIPATED: OUR SPRING 2017 NON-FICTION PREVIEW, 49TH SHELF
- THE HANDOVER, OPEN BOOK
- HOW DO WE SUMMER? ALU STAFFERS SHARE THEIR READS, ALL LIT UP
- 2017 SUMMER READING: RECOMMENDED BY CANADIAN WRITERS, THE WRITERS TRUST
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*SMARTS will soon be available in Chinese! Rights to translate in Chinese simple characters have been sold to China Machine Press (CMP). China Machine Press will publish in Chinese worldwide (except for Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan). The Chinese version of SMARTS is not yet available. Check back here for release dates for the Chinese edition of SMARTS.*
SMARTS: computing slime molds,political primates,masterfulplants,amoeba machines, high IQ chips,signals,spies,the brilliant life and mysterious death of Alan Turing, and the boundary-busting story of intelligence.
SMARTS is a NON-FICTION book available for print-on-demand and as an e-book. It is written by award winning author and journalist Elaine Dewar.
Praise for SMARTS from popular fiction, non-fiction, and sci-fi authors:
“Everyone should read this book. It’s so brilliant it takes my breath away. I was so fascinated in places that I began to wonder if it is too late to study biology or maybe to try mathematics one more time. (Yes it is.) As a creative personality, a writer of fiction and creative nonfiction, I kept objecting to where the science seemed to be taking us, but the riveting story and the accessible prose carried me through to the end. We all owe Dewar a debt of gratitude for this marvelous work about humans struggling to understand intelligence.”
Sharon Butala, Officer of the Order of Canada, shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for both fiction and nonfiction, is the author of sixteen books including the bestseller The Perfection of the Morning, and The Girl in Saskatoon: A Meditation on Friendship, Memory and Murder, HarperCollins. Her forthcoming novel Wild Rose, will be published by Coteau Books. www.sharonbutala.com
“Smarts is an astonishing blend of science and memoir, at once an investigative essay and a profound work of the imagination. It is the third in a remarkable trilogy in which Dewar accomplishes nothing less than a comprehensive history of the human species. In Bones, she examined the controversies surrounding human origins; in The Second Tree, she looked at the present state of the biological and genetic sciences. Now, in Smarts, she explores the history and evolution of intelligence, human and otherwise, and raises important and disturbing questions about how we will deal with the future, and how the future will deal with us. It flows with the swiftness of thought itself.”
Wayne Grady, author of the recently published novel, Emancipation Day, as well as many highly regarded non fiction works, such as Bringing Back the Dodo.
“A terrific book — one I wish I’d written myself. Dewar takes us on a fascinating multidisciplinary odyssey, bouncing effortlessly from biology to neuroscience to computer research, in which she explores aspect of the notion of intelligence. Her personal journey weaves it all together in a compulsively readable, hugely informative, highly entertaining account from the very frontiers of science.”
Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of _FlashForward_
Praise for SMARTS in major scientific journals:
“Coupled with the extensive documentation of published
cognitive research, Dewar’s gripping journalistic approach makes Smarts
into a particularly rewarding book for those of us who ponder the
mysteries of how living organisms can be so complex and get so much
right so often.”
–James A Shapiro, (one of the preeminent Bacterial Geneticists of his generation and Professor in Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Chicago) in Plant Signaling & Behavior (a scholarly scientific journal)
Praise from SMARTS from notable bloggers:
“With a breezy but meticulous writing style, and just enough sass to make you smile, Elaine reports on her interviews of some of the world’s most creative minds in science and technology, as she searches for the meaning of “intelligence.”… Even though I may not understand the chemical processes and algorithms, however, I understood what she was getting at…people are pursuing ideas that are literally changing the world…slime that thinks…plants that plan…technology that evolves independent of humans…governments and industries are investing big bucks in pursuing the implications for non-human intelligence. And the public is completely unaware – unless they read SMARTS.”
CLICK TO READ THE FULL REVIEW
Dawn Forsythe, Chimp Trainer’s Daughter
Smarts tells the stories of the brilliant men and women who are redefining what intelligence is and who or what displays it. Merging Darwin’s ideas with Alan Turing’s, they have found intelligence everywhere, and in everything, while turning it into a process to be used. Smarts’ characters include the mysterious Turing; the infamous eugenicist Francis Galton; ethologist/psychologist Frans B.M. de Waal and his political chimpanzees; Anne E. Russon and miming orangutans; Dario Floreano and his altruistic robots; Stefano Mancuso and his masterful plants; engineer/philosopher Chris Eliasmith whose simulation of intelligence is as smart as the average university student and will be coming soon to a robot near you. Along the way, there are slime molds that compute, octopuses that signal in colors they cannot see, mysteries, spies, deaths and disappearances. Part history, part memoir, part politics, Smarts is a report from that dangerous front where machines are getting way too smart, and smart life is being machined.
The Second Tree
The Second Tree documents a biological revolution that will change the way you think about the material world, your own life and even the inevitability of your own death
Genetic scientists are busily pushing back the boundaries of the humanly possible, climbing the branches of a tree of life that has been grafted by man, not God. Elaine Dewar chronicles the lives, the discoveries, and the feuds among modern biologists, exploring how they have crafted the tools to alter human evolution. She travels the globe on the trail of Charles Darwin and his intellectual descendants, telling the story of James D. Watson and his partner Francis Crick, who first described DNA; of Frederick Sanger, who invented how to sequence genes and won two Nobel prizes; of the computer scientists who put the human genome on the World Wide Web. She visits companies that are trying to turn cloned sheep into pharmacies on the hoof, to resurrect prize cows from the grave, to transplant human genes into mice — ultimately attempting to give us immortality in pieces while trying to keep investors happy. As these tales spill out, we find out how biologists learn by doing: tearing mice and worms and flies and human eggs apart, twinning disparate animal cells and genes together — creating clones and chimeras as outlandish as any sphinx.
In public, research biologists often express their good intentions about curing the big diseases. In private, many of them are compelled by furious struggles to be rich, famous and first. Dewar lays bare the motives, conflicts and fears of the men and women whose job it is to trespass the boundaries of what laypeople consider ethical and sacred.
Scientists not so long ago unanimously believed that people first walked to the New World from northeast Asia across the Bering land bridge at the end of the Ice Age 11,000 years ago. But in the last ten years, new tools applied to old bones have yielded evidence that tells an entirely different story.
In Bones, Elaine Dewar records the ferocious struggle in the scientific world to reshape our views of prehistory. She traveled from the Mackenzie River valley in northern Canada to the arid plains of the Brazilian state of Piaui, from the skull-and-bones-lines offices of the Smithsonian Institution to the basement lab of an archaeologist in Washington State who wondered if the FBI was going to come for him. She met scientists at war with each other and sought to see for herself the oldest human remains on these continents. Along the way, she found that the old answer to the question of who were the First Americans was steeped in the bitter tea of racism.
Bones explores the ambiguous terrain left behind when a scientific paradigm is swept away. It tells the stories of the archaeologists, Native American activists, DNA experts and physical anthropologists scrambling for control of ancient bones of Kennewick Man, Spirit Cave, and the oldest one of all, a woman named Luzia. At stake are professional reputations, lucrative grants, fame, vindication, even the reburial of wandering spirits. The weapons? Lawsuits, threats, violence. The battlefield stretches from Chile to Alaska.
Dewar tells the stories that never find their way into scientific papers — stories of mysterious deaths, of the bones of evil shamen and the shadows falling on the lives of scientists who pulled them from the ground. And she asks the new questions arising out of the science of bones and the stories of first peoples: "What if Native Americans are right in their belief that they have always been in the Americas and did not migrate to the New World at the end of the Ice Age? What if the New World's human story is as long and complicated as that of the Old? What if the New World and the Old World have always been one?"