Authors & Contributors

The Authors

Dan Burstein is the creator, editor, and author of the Secrets series, which includes the world’s bestselling guidebooks to the fiction of Dan Brown. Beginning with Secrets of the Code in 2004, Burstein has spearheaded six books of commentaries on Brown’s fiction that today have over four million copies in print worldwide. The Secrets books have been translated into over thirty languages and have, in aggregate, appeared on more than a dozen bestseller lists, including twenty-eight weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. They have also been the basis for three documentary films and three collector’s editions of US News. The author of fourteen books, Burstein has had a passionate interest in Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy since he was twelve years old. He has won many journalism awards over his career, and he and coauthor Arne de Keijzer were nominated for a 2012 Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America for their book on Stieg Larsson and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Burstein is also cofounder and managing partner of Millennium Technology Value Partners, a New York City-based venture capital firm that has invested in some the leading technology companies of our time.

Arne de Keijzer is cocreator and coeditor, with Dan Burstein, of the Secrets series. Over his writing career, de Keijzer has contributed to a wide variety of publications and authored books on topics ranging from international business to new technologies. For two decades, he ran his own business consultancy in the China trade, during which time he wrote the best selling China Guidebook and two editions of China: Business Strategies for the 90s. His collaboration with Dan Burstein began in 1998 with the publication of Big Dragon, an innovative look at China’s economic and political future and is impact on the world. The team subsequently formed Squibnocket Partners LLC, a creative content development company that has now published ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers.

The Contributors

Teodolinda Barolini is Da Ponte Professor of Italian at Columbia University. She is the author of Dante’s Poets (Princeton, 1984; Italian trans. Bollati Boringhieri, 1993), The Undivine Comedy: Detheologizing Dante (Princeton, 1992; Italian trans. Feltrinelli, 2003), Dante and the Origins of Italian Literary Culture (Fordham, 2006; Italian trans. Bompiani, 2012), and the editor and commentator on Dante’s lyric poems, Rime giovanili e della ‘Vita Nuova’ (Rizzoli, 2009). She is currently working on the second volume of her commentary to Dante’s lyric poems. Barolini is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Medieval Academy of America. She served as the fifteenth President of the Dante Society of America (1997-2003).

Steven Botterill is Associate Professor of Italian Studies and Director of the interdisciplinary doctoral program in Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of two books and numerous articles on Dante, and a two-time elected member of the council of the Dante Society of America. His teaching covers the spectrum of Italian literature and culture from 1200 to 1500 CE, with occasional forays into the Romantic period and modern poetry. He is currently completing a book entitled Dante and the Language of Community and is researching one on Dante’s theological ethics.

Jamais Cascio writes about the intersection of emerging technologies, environmental dilemmas, and cultural transformation, specializing in the design and creation of plausible scenarios of the future. In 2010 he was named a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for the Future, where he is a primary contributor to the annual Ten Year Forecast program. Cascio is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. In March 2006 he started Open the Future, his online home. Cascio has also applied his skills in the entertainment industry and designed several science fiction game settings. In 2009, he published his first book, Hacking the Earth: Understanding the Consequences of Geoengineering.

Joel E. Cohen is the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of Populations and head of the Laboratory of Populations at the Rockefeller University and Columbia University. At Columbia, he holds appointments in the Earth Institute and the Departments of International and Public Affairs, as well as Earth and Environmental Sciences and Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology. Cohen was a MacArthur Fellow and elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in evolutionary and population biology and ecology and the US National Academy of Sciences in applied mathematical sciences. He studies the demography, ecology, epidemiology, and social organization of human and nonhuman populations and mathematical concepts useful in these fields. His most recent book is International Perspectives on the Goals of Universal and Secondary Education (coedited with Martin Malin).

William R. Cook holds degrees from Wabash College (AB, LHD) and Cornell University (MA, PhD.). He taught medieval history at SUNY Geneseo for forty-two years, retiring in 2012. He was Visiting Professor of Religion and History at Wabash College 2008-2010 and 2013. He is the author of five books, including The Medieval World View (Oxford University Press, 3rd ed. 2012) with Ronald Herzman. Cook has made nine audio/video courses for The Teaching Company, including the bestselling The Cathedral and Dante’s Divine Comedy (with Ronald Herzman). He has won many teaching awards, including New York State Professor of the Year from The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education in 1992.

Alison Cornish is Professor of Italian in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is the author of various articles on Dante and his culture in addition to two monographs: Reading Dante’s Stars (Yale, 2000) and Vernacular Translation in Dante’s Italy: Illiterate Literature (Cambridge, 2011). She is on the editorial board of Dante Studies, Italian Culture, and the Devers Series in Dante Studies. She teaches courses on Boccaccio, Petrarch, Ariosto, Machiavelli, and Italian Through Opera, in addition to Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Glenn W. Erickson is Professor of Philosophy at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil. He has written extensively in the areas of comparative literature and history of thought and on the intersticies of philosophy, mathematics, and the arts. He is also a regular contributor to the Secrets series.

Paul R. Ehrlich has pursued long-term studies of the structure, dynamics, and genetics of natural butterfly populations. He has also been a pioneer in raising issues of population, resources, and the environment as matters of public policy. Ehrlich, the Bing Professor of Population Studies at Stanford University, is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. The winner of many prizes and awards in ecology and biological sciences, he is a widely published author whose most famous book is The Population Bomb (1968). Along with his wife Anne, he also wrote The Population Explosion (1990) and Healing the Planet (1991).

Laurie Garrett is Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations. In 1992-1993, she was a Fellow at Harvard University, working closely with the emerging diseases group. During the 1990s, Garrett continued tracking outbreaks and epidemics worldwide, noting the insufficient responses from global public health institutions in Zaire, India, Russia, and most of the former USSR, Eastern Europe, and the United States. In 1994, she wrote her first best selling book, The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance. She joined the think-tank staff of the Council on Foreign Relations in 2004 where she regularly writes reports and articles on the intersection between global heath and public policy.

Cheryl Lynn Helm is the executive assistant for an Episcopal convent in upper Manhattan. She is a graduate of the University of Delaware with a major in music theory and a minor in medieval studies. In her spare time, she sings with the Canby Singers and composes choral music. Her skills as a Dan Brown puzzle solver have earned her a Cryptex, a signed illustrated Da Vinci Code, and a signed first edition of The Lost Symbol.

Giuseppe Mazzotta is Sterling Professor in the Humanities for Italian at Yale University, where he has been teaching since 1983 and where he also serves as Chairman of the Italian Department. He has published a number of books on Dante, including Dante, Poet of the Desert (Princeton, 1979) and Dante’s Vision and the Circle of Knowledge (Princeton 1993). His two most recent books on Dante are Reading Dante (Yale, 2013) and ConJine quasi Orizzonte: Saggi su Dante (Rome, 2013). He has received honorary degrees in Humane Letters from the Catholic University of America (2012) and in Sacred Letters from the University of Toronto (2012). He has also served as president of the Dante Society of America.

Julie O’Connor is the photo editor of this book and contributed significantly to the research process. She is an award-winning fine art photographer and photojournalist known for her “Doors of Tibet” series ( She is also author/photographer of the book Doors of Weston: 300 Years of Passageways in a Connecticut Town. Her photographs for Secrets of Inferno were taken in Florence in 2013.

David Orban, a former chairman of Humanity+, is an entrepreneur, futurist, and CEO of Dotsub, a technology and services provider powering video viewing. David is also a member of the Faculty of and Advisor to the Singularity University, an interdisciplinary university whose mission is to assemble, educate, and inspire leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies in order to address humanity’s grand challenges.

David A. Shugarts, a key contributor to Secrets of Inferno, has been a core member of the Secrets team since the publication of Secrets of the Code in 2004. He is also an award-winning journalist, investigative reporter, and editor. His profile of Dan Brown and the predictions he made about the content of The Lost Symbol, detailed in his book Secrets of the Widow’s Son (2005), proved remarkably prescient and won him national acclaim.

Gregory Stock is a biotech entrepreneur, bioethicist, best selling author, and a leading authority on the broad impacts of genomic and other advanced technologies in the life sciences. He founded the Program on Medicine, Technology and Society at UCLA’s School of Medicine in 1997. Dr. Stock serves on the California Advisory Committee on Stem Cells and Reproductive Cloning and is the Associate Director of the Center for Life Science Policy Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. He is also the Chief Scientific Officer of Ecoes, a personal genomics company, and serves on the on the boards of Signum Biosciences and Napo Pharmaceuticals. Gregory Stock’s books include Redesigning Humans: Our Inevitable Genetic FutureMetaman: The Merging of Humans and Machine into a Global Superorganism, and the best selling Book of Questions.

Natasha Vita-More is a researcher in “the aesthetics of human enhancement and radical life extension, and hybridity, with a focus on nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive and neurosciences.” She has been called the first female philosopher of transhumanism and is well known for her “Transhumanist Manifesto” (written in 1983). She is chairman of the Board of Directors of Humanity+, past president of the Extropy Institute, the forerunner of Humanity+ (2000-2006), founder and director of Transhumanist Arts & Culture, and artistic director of the H+ laboratory. Her new book is The Transhumanist Reader: Classical and Contemporary Essays on the Science, Technology, and Philosophy of the Human Future, co-edited with Max More (2013).

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