I enjoyed reading the draft—lots of places I was tempted to write "wow" in the margins.
Dick Kennedy Mason Neck, Virginia
Finished your superb book last night. Surprising? Yes. Amazing? Yes. Timely? Yes. It made me cry a number of times. You could only have gotten the life-like detail from Norm himself. No wonder he was so tough right up to the end. The only wonder is why he was still so cheerful.
Zaphod Monadman Chassahowitzka, Florida
I purchased your second volume on Dr. Borlaug and just finished it. I can't wait for #3 to find out how things turn out! The lessons about not giving up in the face of adversity are great ones for young researchers - especially those from poor countries.
Just wanted to thank you for vol 2. What a great story, and you put it all together so well. Lots of lessons to learn from his life and how he operated. He is a great inspiration to us all.
5.0 out of 5 stars A true revelation of how Borlaug became a hero the world needs to know., November 11, 2009
By Al P from Northern Virginia - See all my reviews
Noel Vietmeyer does it again! He writes about the evolution of wheat and the man who made it happen at a revolutionary pace with great success at overcoming a devastating stem rust disease. If that sounds like a seemingly unappealing subject for a book, the future readers of it are in for a real surprise. It is masterfully written and goes beyond a typical biography. To be sure Dr. Vietmeyer has an intriguing biographical subject. Borlaug is a hero that every American and indeed all who appreciate many of the foods we have today should get to know. We can and should be very thankful for Borlaug's capability to learn, his vast knowledge and its application as well as his perseverance, dedication, self-sacrifice and incredibly supporting family. The stories told surrounding these years in his life are extraordinarily interesting and revealing about Borlaug's character and the fortuitous help he received along the way. Dr. Vietmeyer weaves the stories into the history that is key to techniques for growing and disease prevention for crops to this date.
Young people can learn volumes from this book from an educational viewpoint. Policy makers can as well. The story depicts real science in action outside the pristine labs we often associate with scientific advancements. It is eye-opening to say the least. We learn about the risks Borlaug took and the trials and tribulations he faced. Then we see how concerned he was for the need to feed the hungry people of the world. We learn how magnanimous he was in sharing his techniques and seeds -- he offered them for free! I look forward to Volume 3 of this series.
Clearly I have gained even greater respect for Norman Borlaug and am sad that he recently passed away. Noel Vietmeyer is providing a great service for us to get to know this man of our history as we all should. "Wheat whisperer" and "maverick" are indeed apt descriptions of Borlaug. Thanks for a truly inviting and excellent biography Dr. Vietmeyer.
Michael Rawluk British Columbia
In a testament to the quality of your book, my wife (who had never heard of Norman Borlaug, except the odd time he came up in conversation, and who has no plant pathology or even a science background) started reading the book, and has enjoyed it thoroughly. She was quite surprised that he is not a "household name." I can’t say I disagree with her.
Philip Northover Carman, Manitoba
What a wonderful story you have told! It was a pleasure reading about this great American, whom I'm lucky to know.
Tom Hartzell Sheboygan, Wisconsin
I am truly impressed by your work - it is so readable, so educational for this generation, and so pertinent re population growth issues.
Don Miller Vanuatu
A colleague recently lent me your book Borlaug, and I was riveted by it. I read the first 173 pages one Sunday and finished the rest over the next few nights. It was one of those books that I couldn't put down, but yet I also didn't want to finish it.
Justine Dougherty Dover, New Hampshire
I think what made your style most engaging for me was the sincere yet sophisticated voice that offered so much in the way of perspective and insight. Your book reminded me at times of the TV show Connections by James Burke or Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel because of its way of illuminating the macrocosm of our times through the microcosm of one person.
Justine Dougherty Dover, New Hampshire
I liked the historical asides on sulfa drugs, the war, etc. I feel I have a much more informed perspective and a deeper appreciation for what our society now has. Thank you. Of course Mr. Borlaug makes us want to root for him too.
Justine Dougherty Dover, New Hampshire
Borlaug is a powerful statement about the inherent goodness in human nature. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story.
Louisa DeLew Long Island, New York
You have captured the person of Norman in your book and presented the environment, family and community, in an accurate manner. I found the book difficult to put down and sometimes shed tears as you wrote of family members who were near and dear to me.
Joanne Lane Waterloo, Iowa
I finally had a chance to do some reading on your book. What I have read is really great! I appreciate the work you did to provide the historical context for the unfolding story. It is also good to read something written above the Fifth-Grade reading level.
Jim Borlaug Madison, Wisconsin
Your background setting the stage for Norman to make his appearance is simply excellent.
K Becker Cresco, IA
As I review—in my mind—the nice things people have done for me, the gift of your interesting book is one of the nicest. Thank you very much. I have not finished the reading, for I received it last night, but from what I’ve seen, the facts and the wording are the BEST!!!
Anna Dafforn, age 94 Cunningham, Kansas
An atypical, but pleasurably readable, biography; provides a great historical review of life in early 20th century America
This is a biography of a relatively unknown but incredibly interesting American hero. It is an extraordinary and masterfully written treatise of how Borlaug survived hard times in America, including the Great Depression; it is about a man whose learned and subsequently highly developed philosophy of life and education drove him to success in a field of work that he did not choose initially. Millions of people, nay billions, would not have survived without Borlaug's work that coincidentally led to his winning a Nobel Prize. He had help from mentors (called "career savers" in the book) who are interesting unto themselves. Among the many stories told are those under each of the very interesting pictures that provide a glimpse at events and people significant to our country's history. While in the hands of a lesser writer, this history and story laden biography might otherwise produce glazed eyes. BUT, I can assure you won't want to put it down! It is the first of a three volume set. I can't wait for volumes 2 and 3! Thank you Dr. Vietmeyer for helping me learn about this great American.
Al P from Northern Virginia
An amazing book. I read it all . . . couldn't put it down!!!! It is better than any novel I've read in years. It’s so dramatic. I challenge anyone to start and be able to put it down. . . Can't wait for Volumes 2 and 3.
Frieda Rapoport Caplan Founder Frieda's, Inc. "The Specialty Produce Company"
. . . sincere congratulations for writing such a wonderful and captivating story. Borlaug gets better each time I read it!
Bernadette R. Lorton, Virginia
This book should be required reading in all middle to upper grade classes; what an excellent history lesson for all to appreciate.
Bernadette R. Lorton, Virginia
As you know, I purchased two additional books and gave them to friends. Each commented: "Couldn't put it down."
Rick R. Lorton, Virginia.
I’m so happy to have…your book. I’m dipping into it from time to time—very impressive. I wish you continued success with it.
P. Pascale Mason Neck, VA
Noel, I'm deeply impressed with the book, not only for it's realistic portrayal of Norm but also for it's nostalgic depiction of the times. Many thanks.
Alan Marra Amherst, Mass
Writing a book is never easy and Borlaug must have been the hardest for all the references you had to chase down. I note you have already done a lot of writing and I hope you do a lot more. I like your humble style.
Alan Marra Amherst, Mass
This is a neat book! I look forward to Volume 2.
Ralph Richardson, Dean College of Veterinary Medicine Kansas State University
Hard scrabble. That term does indeed describe our special friend, and now I understand just how he came to deserve that descriptor. By the way, you also taught and put into perspective US history from 1913 into the 1940s; I thank you for this.
You have made clear as to why Norm tirelessly stays the course despite naysayers and obstacles of all types. He stays cheerful in the face of dissent.
Norm certainly has talked with crowds and walked with kings, while keeping both his virtue and his common touch. He is and will always be my personal hero, and you've helped me immeasurably in understanding his roots and path. Thank you so much.
The volume certainly is made attractive and readable by the vivid illustrations and layout. I look forward to reading volumes 2 and 3.
Lowell S. Hardin Purdue University
I did enjoy reading your book. I enjoyed the human interest stories and gained great admiration for Borlaug's character.
Your book arrived safe and sound, and (unlike so many others) I haven't put it down in any spare moment since. Thanks to one latish night I am now on p.163. A really fascinating story. Great writing. I especially like the tight focus and personalization of an historic period normally described impersonally. My parents lived through that, and to see it through other eyes is fascinating - and enriching. Thanks.
Glenn Duncan London
Your book is interesting and informative. It's sort of a classical reciting of history--from the agriculture and rural standpoint in the context of what is happening in the larger world, and with the intermingled experiences of real people. Nicely done, well researched, and forming a basis for understanding what drove Norm Borlaug through his wondrous journey and mission of preventing triage on a world regional level.
Wayne Swegle Maumelle, Arkansas
Thanks for keeping alive this story of great worldwide agricultural accomplishment! Did you know that I was born in Mexico City and my middle name is Margaret, after Margaret Borlaug? When my mother went into labor my dad was traveling with Norm in the interior of Mexico. Her labor was complicated and I almost died. If Margaret Borlaug had not rushed her to the hospital I would not be responding today.
Jan Krukar Cudahy, Wisconsin
You are to be congratulated. Norman Borlaug has been a hero of mine since I finished college in 1983 and your book has solidified that even more. We are currently living and working in Puerto Rico utilizing a version of Dr. Borlaug’s shuttle breeding methodology to develop severe stress tolerant corn. To this day I do not know why more breeders do not follow his plan. We are having success with it.
Ed Baumgartner Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico
This "Thank You" is tardy because I've spent every spare moment reading Borlaug! What a story. What a man. And so well written.
Linden Moyle Thames Coast, New Zealand
I really think BORLAUG should be required reading for every ag student in the US. Perhaps a screenplay. It is an epic tale!
Sally Schuff Feedstuffs Magazine
Thanks, Noel, I stayed up all night reading your book and I kept saying, golly gee, for heavens' sake, and wowee! And thanks for going out of the way to mention me. It makes this old corn picker feel good!
Leonard Jacobs Franklin Grove, Illinois
My wife, who has a near rural background in Australia, would like you to know that she really enjoyed the book and its setting into history and that stage of life in the USA. Very well portrayed.
Brian Deverall University of Sydney
. . . one of the top 25 percent of all the books I’ve read.
Among all the books on Dr Borlaug I have read, your volume 1 of his life is the most inspiring and informative. I am looking forward to reading the second volume.
M.S. Swaminathan Chennai, India
Thank you for the book about Norman Borlaug. Wonderful read. Gave me a real insight into his motivation.
Tom Vilsack Secretary of Agriculture
The Borlaug story is an interesting second look at the pre-tractor time of farming and the difficult conditions. Up until now I never was aware of the particular impact for farm living that agriculture improvements had made and also the broad benefit for the rest of the country.
Ernest Saucier Leominster, Massachusetts
Let me compliment you on the book. It's well written and dynamic. It deserves a wider circulation.
Martin Vaala St. Louis Park, Minnesota
I read Volume 1 on the way back to D.C. last night and it was a fantastic read. I loved the way you wove and integrated Borlaug's personal story and commentary into the events and history of the time. It was captivating.
R. J. Morris Arlington, VA
I found your book to be much more than a biography of Norman Borlaug, although it certainly is a great one. I learned so much about the history of the United States in the 1910s, 20s and 30s that I did not know.
Forrest Laws Agricultural Publications Ames, Iowa
I am about half-way through the book--very well written. Thanks.
Ro Foege Mount Pleasant, Iowa