cover image Lethal Tides: Mary Sears and the Marine Scientists Who Helped Win World War II

Lethal Tides: Mary Sears and the Marine Scientists Who Helped Win World War II

Catherine Musemeche. Morrow, $28.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-299169-0

Oceanographer Mary Sears’s critical contributions to the U.S. Navy during WWII are detailed in this impressive and inspiring portrait. Pediatric surgeon Musemeche (Small) examines how Sears and other members of the women’s naval reserve, better known as WAVES, “developed critical intelligence for numerous amphibious missions, prepared manuals for general use by sailors and navigators, assisted in creating survival maps for air-sea rescue, and collated bathythermograph data for use in submarine warfare.” One of the first 10 researcher fellows at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts, Sears became a leading authority on plankton despite not being allowed to sail aboard the institute’s research vessel (she relied on male colleagues to gather specimens for her). Brought into the U.S. Hydrographic Office in 1943, Sears worked alongside colleagues including oceanographic librarian Mary Grier, oceanographer Dora Henry, and marine biologist Fenner Chace Jr., to compile reports on surfs, reefs, tides, and waves for landings at Luzon, Okinawa, Iwo Jima, and other Pacific theater hot spots. Musemeche peppers the narrative with details of the sexism Sears and others faced in the military and academia, and the ways in which the war effort upended life on the home front. The result is a rousing account of talent, intelligence, and commitment overcoming prejudice. Agent: Marcy Posner, Folio Literary. (Aug.)