The Pages of History Writ Small

Publisher George Gibson explains his string of short, quirky, page-turners, and why readers can't get enough of them

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, George Gibson should feel plenty flattered. The 52-year-old head of small, independent publisher Walker & Co. has been a pioneer of a now-ubiquitous book genre -- stories about forgotten people or offbeat things that changed the world. In 1995, Walker published Dava Sobel's Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time. The company went on to publish Mark Kurlansky's Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World (1997), Sobel's Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love (2000) and Ross King's Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture (2000).

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