My books include the award-winning Ginseng, the Divine Root (Algonquin), a plant’s odyssey, and Soul of a People: The WPA Writers’ Project Uncovers Depression America (Wiley), an Amazon Pick of the Month that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ranked among the Best Books of the Year. My recent book Cork Wars: Intrigue and Industry in World War II (Johns Hopkins University Press) received an Independent Publisher Book Award for world history.
My nonfiction appears in the Washington Post, Discover, Undark, Smithsonian, The Millions, Inverse, and Washingtonian. I've written documentary scripts for National Geographic, PBS, Discovery, and Smithsonian Channel. My documentary films have garnered CINE Golden Eagle Awards, TIVA-DC Peer Awards, and a Writers Guild of America award nomination.
My work has been supported by a Career Grant from the National Association of Science Writers, grants from the National Endowment of the Humanities, and fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and a Hawthornden Literary Fellowship. With a fellowship from the International Reporting Project, I reported on malaria research and prevention in West Africa. My short fiction collection Success: Stories received the Washington Writers Publishing House prize for fiction, and was a People's Choice finalist in the Library of Virginia Literary Awards. Thanks to the PEN/Faulkner Foundation I've been a visiting writer to DC Public Schools. I teach writing with Johns Hopkins University's science writing program. Visit www.davidataylor.org.
Cork Wars: Intrigue and Industry in World War II
In 1940, a fireball at the Crown Cork and Seal factory lit the sky over Baltimore. Afterward, rumors of Nazi sabotage led to an FBI investigation and pulled an entire industry into the national security web as America stood on the brink of war. Cork Wars traces this story through the lives of three families, who were drawn into this dangerous intersection of enterprise and espionage. Self-made mogul Charles McManus, son of Irish immigrants, grew up on Baltimore’s rough streets and rose to own Crown Cork and Seal, a company that manufactured everything from bottle caps to gaskets for fighter planes. Frank DiCara, a teenager growing up near the factory, would soon have to support his family with a wartime factory job. And Melchor Marsa, Catalan by birth, managed Crown Cork and Seal’s plants in Spain and Portugal—and was perfectly placed to be recruited as a spy.
Drawing on in-depth interviews with family members, personal collections, and recently declassified government records, the book weaves this by turns beautiful, dark, and outrageous narrative with the drama of a thriller. From the factory floor to the corner office, Cork Wars traces shifts in our ideas of modernity, the environment, and the materials and norms of American life.
Awards and Recognition
- Independent Publisher Book Award, world history (Cork Wars); Writers’ Guild of America Screenplay Reading Series Award, 2012; Writers’ Guild of America award nomination - Best Documentary Film (Soul of a People)