Books: Science & Medicine; Histories & Biographies


The Proteus Effect; Stem Cells and their Promise for Medicine
Free PDF download of book:

Joseph Henry Press, National Academy of Sciences, 2004

Named to Library Journal's annual list of best Sci-Tech Books for General Readers
Finalist for L.A. Times Book Award

"One of the most timely and topical popular science books of the year."—Library Journal

"The Proteus Effect may well be the most important science book of the year."—San Jose Mercury News

Ann Parson "has written a timely and cogent account of the history of stem-cell research and the prospects for its future clinical applications.... Most importantly, [she] highlights the complexities involved in the work and tempers the hype that stem-cell-generated cures are just around the corner."—The New Republic

"All in all, Parson admirably brings to life the stem-cell story from a tiny Maine fishing village to the battle for the American presidency in 2004."—Nature


The Birds of Dog; An Historical Novel Based on Mostly True Events

Now available on Amazon

Luminare Press, 2023

The Birds of Dog, an historical fiction, opens in the early days of the Boston Society of Natural History, closes with the founding of the Audubon Society, and along the way brings together diverse stories about 19th Century America’s emerging sciences and its first scientists.  A curator’s assistant, finds herself increasingly drawn to Nature’s treasures, especially birds, and more and more opposed to the “kill-and-collect” methods of hunters. Her cousin is off serving as chief zoologist for the Navy’s first voyage of discovery to the South Seas, and her outbound letters tell of scientific findings at home and memorable encounters—with Audubon, Junius Brutus Booth, Dickens and other eminent visitors to Boston. When she meets a brilliant inventor whose discovery leads to the world’s first public aquarium, she finds a kindred soul. It’s plain that new technologies are on a destructive course with Nature, that guns have strayed far from their original purpose. The Boston Society of Natural History eventually evolved into Boston’s Museum of Science.


Decoding Darkness;

The Search for the Genetic Causes of Alzeheimer's Disease

Co-authored with Ruolph E. Tanzi, Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School

Perseus Publishing, 2000

"Remember this book. Tanzi and Parson have made a complicated science come to life.... It is, in all the best ways, a human account of one of the most important scientific missions of our time."—Newsday

"One of the best things about Decoding Darkness is that it never loses itself in the chemistry."—The Economist

"A scientific autobiography written with a journalist can be a winner, as illustrated by Decoding Darkness.... The story is invigorating, the progress is fantastic, and the writing is lively."
The New England Journal of Medicine


Mortimer Rogoff;

Man of the Future, 1921 to 2008

Privately Printed 2010

Mortimer Rogoff, a brilliant yet largely unknown inventor-engineer, was an important pioneer of GPS and cell-phone technologies, as well as electronic chart displays on board ships. In fact, he was possibly the first engineer to provide a working demonstration, in the early 1950s, of spread spectrum technology, without which GPS would not be possible. ?Mort Rogoff indeed divined the future. Today, every new car, boat, plane, and train, as well as every new cell phone, comes equipped with both spread-spectrum and electronic-chart capabilities.

To order, contact


Antonio Ferri;

Partisan Scientist, 1912 to 1975

Privately Printed 2012

In the aviation community, Antonio Ferri is remembered as the inspirational leader of the field of supersonic research as well as "the father" of hypersonic flight. He provided the all-important groundwork for building planes that finally were capable of breaking the sound barrier, and for overcoming the difficulties presented by supersonic flight. But it was hypersonic flight that especially caught his imagination and benefited from his brand of genius. To fly that fast, five times the speed of sound and upwards, he designed the scramjet, prototypes of which have displayed such fantastic speeds that the scramjet is regarded as the fastest jet-powered or airbreathing aircraft ever invented.


The House That John Built;

Ten Generations of the Pickering Family of Salem, 1651 to 2001

Privately Printed 2010

Candidate for the Historic New England 2011 Annual Book Award

In 1637, a yeoman from England by the name of John Pickering settled on a small lot in the new town of Salem. Over 350 years later, amazingly enough, the house built on this property is still standing, and John's direct descendants continue to converge under its old beams. The House That John Built ultimately traces ten generations of Pickerings, providing an evocative history that is as much about a remarkable string of ancestors as it is about the growth of a harbor town and a nation. An early shipwright, a lionized lieutenant, a risk-taking sea captain, a top-ranking statesman, the world's foremost linguist, a preeminent naturalist, two celebrated astronomers. Open the door and out tumble forgotten faces, forgotten forces, forgotten lore.

To order:


A Beacon Hill Family;

Wigglesworths & Rackemanns, Minots, Goddards, Parkmans, Sedgwicks, Blakes, and Other Kin, 1638 to 1988

Privately Printed 2009

This short history is devoted to one family, that of Edward Wigglesworth, Sarah Parkman Rackemann, and their six children, and yet by necessity it travels back in time to encounter an abundance of intriguing relatives: the poet Michael Wigglesworth, author of the country's first best-selling publication, The Day of Doom; a long line of divines, starting with Edward (1693—1765), Harvard's first Hollis Professor of Divinity; Thomas Wigglesworth, who quietly accumulated a fortune in the European and China trades; and the Rackemann brothers, Frederic and Louis, renowned pianists of their day.

Copies reside at the Boston Athenaeum, Mass Historical Society, and other Boston libraries.


An American Family;

The Lymans and The Vale, 1631 to 1951

Privately Printed May 2009

Upon reaching the New World in 1631, the Lyman family went on to thrive, despite decades of strife with Indians and the French, deep-seated unrest with England and revolution, and eventually the country's own Civil War. This story focuses on multiple generations of the Theodore Lyman family, a lineage that prospered due to New England's shipbuilding and maritime trades, then the textile industry, and eventually the financial sector. The Vale in Waltham, Massachusetts, was once the Lymans' summer home and center of family life. Today, overseen by Historic New England, it is a National Historic Landmark and symbol of the early successes of a family and a nation.

To order: The Lyman Estate, 781-891-4882.




Co-authored with Isaac Schiff, Chief of Obstetrics, Massachusetts General Hospital

Times Books/Random House, 1996

Not long ago, menopause was a subject surrounded by more silence than discussion, more myth than fact. In a few decades, however, science has raised our understanding of this transition point, clearing away misconceptions and promoting a new acceptance and awareness of menopause's biological intricacies.

Menopause isn't a disease, as earlier practitioners sometimes labeled it. Quite the opposite: It is a natural step in the process of aging. "I'm afraid I've begun menopause," one woman lamented to her physician. "Nonsense! You aren't going to pause for anything," the doctor objected. And that is true for the large majority of women.

Menopause underwent five printings and was a leader among comparable titles.