Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies News

Long Hard Road-A Q&A with Charles Murray

Long Hard Road-A Q&A with Charles Murray

September 15th, 2022


Purdue University Press spoke with author Charles J. Murray about his new book, Long Hard Road: The Lithium-Ion Battery and the Electric Car.

Q: Could you give a brief description of your book?

The first half of the book takes the reader through the piece-by-piece invention of the lithium-ion battery. Lithium-ion had many inventors around the world, but mostly in the US, UK, France, and Japan. The inventors in those countries are profiled, and the book details their contributions between 1972 and 1991. The second half of the book is about the electric car, and the auto industry’s adoption of lithium-ion. It describes all the different chemistries that automotive engineers tried before they settled on lithium-ion. The consistent thread to this story is the battery. There is no single main character in this book; the lithium-ion battery is really the star.

Q: What is the goal of your book? What motivated you to write it?

I wanted to write this because I thought the electric car and the lithium-ion battery were misunderstood. In popular culture, the electric car is a new idea. But in truth the manufacturable electric car is 138 years old. And the rechargeable lithium battery is 50 years old this year. This isn’t a story about a new idea. It’s a story about an old, failed idea that was successfully brought back to life.

Q: What are a few things that are being studied for the first time in this book?

The biggest thing is the contribution by Japanese companies. If not for two companies, Asahi Chemical and Sony Corporation, we might not have a lithium-ion battery today. During the 1970s and ‘80s, critical concepts were invented and patented in the US and UK. And then they were ignored. Scientists in the UK were shocked when Sony came along and wanted to license a British patent for lithium-ion that had been gathering dust for eight years. The Japanese companies used that patented technology, then added their own inventions, and created a commercial product. This turns out to have been a critical moment in technological history.

The other unknown story was the creation of the first pre-production battery in Boston. It turns out that Asahi Chemical had a working prototype battery in its lab, but its scientists didn’t know how to build a commercial cell, like the kind you might buy at a grocery store. And they didn’t want to ask for help in Japan because they feared their idea would be stolen. So in 1986 they flew out to Boston with three jars of slurry and asked a company there to turn their slurry into 200 working cells. The whole affair was so secret that even some of the scientists who worked on it in Boston were unaware that they had participated in the creation of the first lithium-ion production batteries. The owner of the company in Boston never divulged the secret until recently, and the story hasn’t been told until now.

Q: Is there anything that shocked or surprised you while working on this project?

I never knew that Thomas Edison and Henry Ford partnered on an electric car in 1913. Ford seldom gets credit for his efforts in this area. It’s often assumed that he disliked electric cars. But he wanted to build and sell electric cars; he even planned to have his son, Edsel Ford, serve as head of manufacturing. But the partnership flopped when Edison’s nickel-iron battery performed poorly in Michigan’s cold winter climate.

The other thing that surprised me was the role of a company called AC Propulsion in the development of Tesla’s first electric car, the Roadster. AC Propulsion created the powertrain that served as the model for the Roadster, which came out in 2009. The Roadster’s powertrain was very similar to AC Propulsion’s, but was redesigned so it could be manufactured in large volumes. Obviously, Tesla deserves enormous credit for what it did. But the initial spark of genius really came from AC Propulsion.

You can get 30% off Long Hard Road: The Lithium-Ion Battery and the Electric Car and any other Purdue University Press book by ordering from our website and using the code PURDUE30 at checkout.

We Love Memoirs

August 31st, 2022

Need a new book to read in honor of We Love Memoirs Day? Try one of these:

The Sky Above: An Astronaut’s Memoir of Adventure, Persistence, and Faith The Sky Above: An Astronaut’s Memoir of Adventure, Persistence, and Faith

Looking up at the stars at the age of ten, John Casper dreamed of being a space explorer. The Sky Above tells how persistence and determination led to flying in space, after serving the nation as a combat fighter pilot and test pilot.

My Seven Lives: Jana Juráňová in Conversation with Agneša Kalinová 

My Seven Lives is the English translation of the best-selling memoir of Slovak journalist Agneša Kalinová (1924–2014): Holocaust survivor, film critic, translator, and political prisoner. An oral history written with her colleague Jana Juráňová, My Seven Lives provides a window into Jewish history, the Holocaust, and the cultural evolution of Central and Eastern Europe. The conversational approach gives the book a relatable immediacy that vividly conveys the tone and temperament of Agneša, bringing out her lively personality and extraordinary ability to stay positive in the face of adversity.

Shelved: A Memoir of Aging in America Shelved: A Memoir of Aging in America

In Shelved: A Memoir of Aging in America, she reflects on the move and the benefits and deficits of American for-profit elder care. Petrovski draws on extensive research that demonstrates the cultural value of our elders and their potential for leading vital, creative lives, especially when given opportunities to do so, offering a cogent, well-informed critique of elder care options in this country.



Twenty Years with the Jewish Labor Bund: A Memoir of Interwar Poland Twenty Years with the Jewish Labor Bund: A Memoir of Interwar Poland 

Bernard Goldstein’s memoir describes a hard world of taverns, toughs, thieves, and prostitutes; of slaughterhouse workers, handcart porters, and wagon drivers; and of fist- and gunfights with everyone from anti-Semites and Communists to hostile police, which is to say that it depicts a totally different view of life in prewar Poland than the one usually portrayed. As such, the book offers a corrective view in the form of social history, one that commands attention and demands respect for the vitality and activism of the generation of Polish Jews so brutally annihilated by the barbarism of the Nazis.

Of Exile and Music: A Twentieth Century Life Of Exile and Music: A Twentieth Century Life 

This fascinating autobiography is set against the backdrop of some of the most dramatic episodes of the twentieth century. It is the story of a stubborn struggle against unjust regimes, sustained by a deep belief in the strength of the human spirit and the transcendental power of music. It is also an account of a rich spiritual life, during which the author has built upon her Jewish roots through the study of Eastern philosophy and meditation.

Bridge Builder: An Insider’s Account of Over 60 Years in Post-War Reconstruction, International Diplomacy, and German – American Relations 

“Kiep is an entertaining storyteller, and he shows a good sense of narrative pace. His memoirs are also of immediate relevance for scholars of international history. Over the past decade, historians have been eager to uncover the activities of ‘transnational,’ nongovernmental actors, as opposed to formal government-to-government relations. From this standpoint, Kiep’s wide-ranging activities as a diplomatic and financial troubleshooter are illuminating.” —William Glenn Gray, Purdue University



Through Bosnian Eyes: The Political Memoirs of a Bosnian Serb 

Through Bosnian Eyes covers a decade of Pejanovic’s service. His role in public life was characterized by an unwavering commitment to national equality and strong convictions regarding the nature of a multiethnic Bosnia-Herzegovina. As a participant in the most important political events of the time, and as a colleague of every major political leader, the author conveys a personal history that is memorable for its insights into the neglected world of Serbs who remained loyal to the nation in trying times.

Westward We Came: A Norwegian Immigrant’s Story, 1866 – 1898

Westward We Came is a memoir of Harold B. Kildahl, Sr. and his family pulling up roots in Norway and immigrating to the United States in 1866. It is a vivid description of their travels and settlement in southern Minnesota. Westward We Came is an authentic depiction of difficult pioneer life-true Americana, including the hardships as well as the joys of that time and place.

You can get 30% off all Purdue University Press titles by entering the code PURDUE30 at checkout on our website.


Faculty Collaboration and Textbook Publication at Purdue University Press

July 21st, 2022

South Gateway Arch (Dave Weigel)


As the scholarly publishing arm of Purdue University and a unit of Purdue Libraries, Purdue University Press is a proud partner for university faculty and staff, centers, and departments, wishing to disseminate the results of their research and otherwise advance learning, teaching, and engagement. Purdue University Press is pleased to announce the publication of three new textbooks in July 2022.

Foundations of Agricultural Education, Fourth Edition is designed for college students in agricultural education and others interested in agricultural education as fundamental preparation for the profession. Teachers of agricultural education and those in support roles will find this book to be a helpful resource. This fourth edition is updated to reflect current educational theory and practices and includes changed laws and initiatives since the third edition. This updated textbook is appropriate for both introductory and advanced courses.

Two of the five authors of this edition are associated with Purdue.

Dr. B. Allen Talbert is a professor of agricultural education at Purdue University. He currently teaches courses in School-Based Agricultural Education program planning, SAE/FFA, and student teaching. His research focuses on recruitment and retention of students from underrepresented minority groups. His engagement work is focused on professional development of agriculture teachers and service to FFA on all levels.

Dr. Sarah E. LaRose is an assistant professor of agricultural education at Purdue University. She began her career in agricultural education as a high school agricultural education teacher and FFA advisor in Woodbury, Connecticut, where she developed curriculum on local food production and extensively used agricultural teaching laboratory spaces to deliver instruction. Her research seeks to cultivate the development of agricultural educators who actively create student-centered, inclusive programs so that all students can experience the transformative benefits of agricultural education.

Productivity and Reliability-Based Maintenance Management, Second Edition is intended to provide a strong yet practical foundation for understanding the concepts and practices of total productive maintenance (TPM) management—a proactive asset and resource management strategy that is based on enhancing equipment reliability and overall enterprise productivity. The book is intended to serve as a fundamental yet comprehensive educational and practical guide for departing from the wait-failure-emergency repair cycle that has plagued too many industries, instead advancing a proactive and productive maintenance strategy. It is not intended to be a how-to-fix-it manual, but rather emphasizes the concept of a world-class maintenance management philosophy to avoid the failure in the first place. Universities, junior and community colleges, and technical institutes as well as professional, corporate, and industrial training programs can benefit by incorporating these fundamental concepts in their technical and managerial curricula. The book can serve as a powerful educational tool for students as well as for maintenance professionals and managers. In addition to updating the previous historical and statistical data and tables, the second edition expands on and adds to case studies based on current maintenance-related events. Several numerical examples and explanations are revised to enhance the clarity of the methodology. The second edition introduces the readers to the state-of-the-art concepts of the Internet of Things (IoT), smart sensors, and their application to maintenance and TPM.

Author Matthew P. Stephens is a professor and a University Faculty Scholar in the College of Technology at Purdue University, where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in facilities planning, statistical quality control, and productivity- and reliability-based maintenance management. Stephens holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Southern Illinois University and the University of Arkansas, with specialization in operations management and statistics. He spent nine years with several manufacturing and business enterprises, and he has been involved as a consultant with a number of major manufacturing companies. Stephens has numerous publications to his credit including several internationally adopted textbooks and another text published by Purdue University Press: Manufacturing Facilities Design & Material Handling.  This textbook is designed for courses in Plant and Facilities Planning and Manufacturing Systems and Procedures. This textbook is also suitable for graduate-level and two-year college courses.


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Practical Digital Design: An Introduction to VHDL  This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the syntax and the most commonly used features of VHDL, one of the two most popular languages used to design digital logic circuits. It also presents a formal digital design process and the best-case design practices that have been developed over more than twenty-five years of VHDL design experience by the author in military ground and satellite communication systems. Unlike other books on this subject, this real-world professional experience captures not only the what of VHDL, but also the how. Throughout the book, recommended methods for performing digital design are presented along with the common pitfalls and the techniques used to successfully avoid them. Written for students learning VHDL for the first time as well as professional development material for experienced engineers, this book’s contents minimize design time while maximizing the probability of first-time design success.

Author Bruce Reidenbach has almost forty years of professional experience designing custom digital integrated circuits and FPGAs for military ground and satellite communication systems. His early experience used the paper and pencil logic diagram design process. He transitioned to designing exclusively in VHDL in 1994. He retired from full-time engineering in 2018 and currently teaches an introductory VHDL class at Purdue University Fort Wayne. He continues to perform contract FPGA design services, primarily in the area of underwater sensor systems for use by the US Navy. He received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University in 1982, and a master’s in business administration from Indiana University Fort Wayne in 1989. In his spare time, the author is a long-time volunteer on-air jazz program host on his local public radio station.

Magnificent Trees of Indiana

March 1st, 2022

Trees have always been a passion for Carroll D. Ritter. Taking inspiration from reading a variety of historical accounts of Indiana’s great natural heritage, Ritter authored Magnificent Trees of Indiana, published by Purdue University Press. He has written this book as a fresh approach to looking at the State of Indiana through the lens of its great trees – past to present. Their beauty, character, and importance to humankind are worth the highest consideration and admiration from all persons.

Featuring more than two hundred gorgeous color photographs of Indiana’s champion trees and old-growth forest remnants, Magnificent Trees of Indiana is a celebration of the state’s natural beauty. Seventy-four trees are featured as well as twenty old-growth woods. Each has been photographed to illuminate the grandeur of the natural world. Accessible to the outdoor enthusiast, this book details the changes that have occurred over the last two centuries in Indiana’s forests, including the landscape geology and physiography. The forest is celebrated as a living community, with highlights including odd forms, curious trees, and unique occurrences—many of which can still be visited today.

John A Bacone, director emeritus, Indiana Division of Nature Preserves, Indiana Department of Natural Resources said, “Ritter is an exceptional naturalist and an excellent writer. In this wonderful volume, he brings the reader from ancient times to the present, and from landscapes to individual old growth tracts. We learn about Indiana’s biggest trees, the remaining old growth forests, and about odd and curious trees as well.”  

Magnificent Trees of Indiana makes a beautiful coffee-table gift book for any Hoosier or nature lover, walking the reader through the geologic past, into early pioneer times, and onward to the present, all while covering the history, value, and economic importance of our hardwood forests.

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Magnificent Trees of Indiana
Carroll D. Ritter
Purdue University Press (March 1, 2022)
Hardcover, ISBN 9781612497419, $34.99
9×12 trim size; 280 pages; more than 270 color images

Receive 30% off all print titles by ordering directly from Purdue University Press and entering the discount code PURDUE30 at checkout.

About Purdue University Press
Founded in 1960, Purdue University Press is dedicated to the dissemination of scholarly and professional information. We publish books in several key subject areas including Purdue & Indiana, Aeronautics/Astronautics, the Human-Animal Bond, Central European Studies, Jewish Studies, and other select disciplines. Learn more at

2021 Winter Gift Sale

November 30th, 2021

Purdue University Press is offering a 50% discount on ALL TITLES published in 2021 and our ENTIRE BACKLIST through January 10, 2022. All you need to do is enter code 21GIFT50 when ordering directly from our website.

From gorgeous coffee-table books on Purdue & Indiana to stirring biographies on some of the most important figures in the space race; books for green thumbs and naturalists to stories of survival in times of war, persecution, or health crises; Purdue University Press has plenty of books that would make wonderful gifts for your loved ones or yourself!

Here’s a guide to just a few of our favorite gifts:


New in 2021


Space & Flight


Indiana & the Midwest


Purdue University


Gardening & the Outdoors


Memoirs of Hope and Survival


Health & Aging