Jonathan Waldman: Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau

Jonathan Waldman

Jonny - the Rust Guy!

Journalist Jonny Waldman has written for Outside, The Washington Post, The New York Times, McSweeney’s, and the Utne Reader - and has worked as a forklift driver, arborist, summer camp director, sticker salesman, climbing instructor, and cook. Before landing in the book world, he put in time at a newspaper, a website, a magazine, a radio show, a TV production company, and a couple science museums. He studied writing at Dartmouth and Boston University’s Knight Center for Science Journalism, but didn’t know quite where to aim. So he bounced around, living in Washington, Oregon, California, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming. Far from where he grew up in Washington, D.C., he spent a lot of time outside. In between adventures, he fell back on fact-checking. While living aboard a 40-foot sailboat in San Francisco, and combatting way too much rust with way too little money, the kernel of Rust was born. The kernel led to a great year as a Ted Scripps Fellow in environmental journalism at the University of Colorado, and the fellowship led to a book proposal and book deal. He still calls Colorado home.

Rust, the titular subject of Waldman’s first book, has been called “the great destroyer” and “the evil.” The Pentagon refers to it as “the pervasive menace.” It destroys cars, fells bridges, sinks ships, sparks house fires, and nearly brought down the Statue of Liberty. Rust costs America more than $400 billion per year—more than all other natural disasters combined.

In a “masterful” (Wall Street Journal), “brilliantly written” (Booklist), “consistently engrossing” (New York Times) drama of man versus nature, Jonathan Waldman travels from Key West, Florida, to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to meet the colorful and often reclusive people who are fighting our mightiest and unlikeliest enemy. He sneaks into an abandoned steelworks with a brave artist, and then he nearly gets kicked out of Ball Corporation’s Can School. Across the Arctic, he follows a massive high-tech robot that hunts for rust in the Alaska pipeline. On a Florida film set he meets the Defense Department’s rust ambassador, who reveals that the navy’s number one foe isn’t a foreign country but oxidation itself. At Home Depot’s mother ship in Atlanta, he hunts unsuccessfully for rust products with the store’s rust-products buyer—and then tracks down some snake-oil salesmen whose potions are not for sale at the Rust Store. Along the way, Waldman encounters flying pigs, Trekkies, decapitations, exploding Coke cans, rust boogers, and nerdy superheroes.

The result is a fresh and often funny account of an overlooked engineering endeavor that is as compelling as it is grand, illuminating a hidden phenomenon that shapes the modern world. Rust affects everything from the design of our currency to the composition of our tap water, and it will determine the legacy we leave on this planet. This exploration of corrosion, and the incredible lengths we go to fight it, is narrative nonfiction at its very best—“a literary odyssey” that’s “part adventure, part intellectual exploration, part pure fun” (Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner’s Handbook); a “wonderfully diverse tapestry” (Science News) that weaves together investigative reporting, hard science, humor, and an urgent call to arms.

Interested in booking Jonathan Waldman to speak at your next event?

Contact Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau.

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