Wayne Biddle was born in Baltimore and educated at Cornell, where he was an undergraduate in the school of electrical engineering and a graduate student in the English department’s master of fine arts program. He has been a contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine, a reporter for The New York Times (where he shared a Pulitzer prize for writing about the “Star Wars” anti-missile system), and a visiting professor at the Technical University in Berlin. He has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Smithsonian Institution, the Alicia Patterson Foundation, the American Medical Writers Association, the National Press Club, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Newspaper Guild of New York.
Since 1998, he has taught at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. His courses have included the Writing Seminars department’s introductory class in nonfiction, in which students study classic texts such as The Education of Henry Adams and A Room of One’s Own; Nonfiction and Nonfact, an examination of the gray area between narrative nonfiction and fiction; American Autobiography, a survey of the genre from Benjamin Franklin to Malcolm X; Science as a Social Activity, a study of the economic and political forces that influence science and technology; and Nonfiction in the Post-Factual Era, about political lying and propaganda. In 2006 he started a course on reflective writing for students in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the first such class in the school’s history.
He is the author of six books of nonfiction, as well as hundreds of articles that have appeared in American and European newspapers and magazines for the past 40 years.
Books: A Field Guide to Radiation, Penguin Books, 2012.
Dark Side of the Moon, Wernher von Braun and the Third Reich, W.W. Norton, 2009.
A Field Guide to the Invisible, Henry Holt, 1998.
A Field Guide to Germs, Henry Holt, 1995; Anchor Books, 1996, second edition 2002, third edition 2010.
Barons of the Sky, a history of the aviation weapons industry, Simon & Schuster, 1991; Henry Holt/Owl, 1993; Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.
Coming to Terms, a study of technical jargon (illustrated by David Suter),Viking Press, 1981; Avon Books, 1982.
Articles: more than 600 news reports, essays, and reviews in The New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Boston Globe, USA Today, Science, Discover, Air & Space Smithsonian, New Scientist (London), The Times (London), The International Herald Tribune, New Society (London), as well as fiction in TriQuarterly, Epoch, and The Boston Globe Magazine