Page Header
[ Enter you text here. ]

  A well told story of a life well lived., November 18, 2009
By Gary M. Beene (Santa Fe, New Mexico)
On December 14, 2006 the United States Congress passed Public Law 109-395. It stated: "Dr. Borlaug has saved more lives than any other person who has ever lived ... Borlaug is deserving of America's highest civilian award: the congressional gold medal."
In 2006 the estimated lives saved by Dr. Borlaug's efforts was approaching 2 billion people.
Noel Vietmeyer's book, Borlaug, tells the story of the early life of this man who changed the world for the better. It is not only a fascinating read, but because Dr. Vietmeyer cast the story in the historical context of the times, the reader can share the lessons learned by the young Norman Borlaug during his formative years.
Over the last few years, world events have conspired to make those lessons once again germane. Dr. Vietmeyer has deftly woven into the story a historical backdrop that included events such as the influenza epidemic of 1918, the treatment of World War I veterans upon their return home, the horrendous hurricane of September 1938, the Great Depression, and the economic stimulus / public works projects of the New Deal.
As I read the book I was struck by the almost eerie similarities between the first decades of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century. What goes around...
In addition to being a just plain compelling read, the book begins telling the life story of one of the greatest gentlemen of the "greatest generation"...Dr. Norman Borlaug.

A fine and recommended biographical read, June 9, 2009
By Midwest Book Review  (Oregon, WI USA)
Going outside the norm can lead to great results. "Borlaug: The Mild-Mannered Maverick Who Fed a Billion People" is the story of Norman Borlaug, a man who has revolutionized twentieth century agriculture so that it could feed a rapidly growing world through the twentieth century population explosion. Chronicling the man behind the miracles, author Noel Vietmeyer uses Borlaug's life to inspire readers with the story of a truly remarkable man. "Borlaug" is a fine and recommended biographical read.

A proper context for Norm Borlaug's amazing life
By Zaphod "Monadman" May 21, 2009 (Chassahowitzka, Florida)
Norm is the most amazing person I've ever met, and I have met quite a few of the rich and powerful. He is in a class of his own. This marvelous book explains why this is so. The author so artfully intersperses stories about Norm with socioeconomic history that for the first time I have proper context for Norm's astounding character development. This book has my unqualified recommendation for anyone interested in truly great human beings.

I just finished reading your book on Borlaug and found it extremely interesting and well written. The context you gave about the various events in the U.S. and elsewhere helps us understand what shaped Norm's life. I had heard several of the stories over the years in my interactions with him, but you added great depth to them by writing about what was going on in the world that took him in the various directions. Congratulations on writing such an engaging book.
Ronald L. Phillips
University of Minnesota

This book is so timely, what with all that’s going on economically. . .locally and in the world as a whole. A man like BORLAUG gives you hope. . .and shows that you should never give up.
Frieda Rapoport Caplan Founder
Frieda's, Inc. "The Specialty Produce Company"

Your book cost me some sleep. At 1:30 the other morning, my wife came down and wanted to know why I hadn't gone to bed. I told her I had the new book on Norman and couldn't put it down.
K Becker
Cresco, IA

It's a terrific book, practically a primer of the last century, and you'll get hooked. Even my mom, at 95, has been devouring a little bit every evening, and keeps bringing it up as a fascinating tale, and inspirational to boot: Borlaug didn't just end up where he is, and Noel tells quite a story of how he got there.
Mark Dafforn
Washington, DC

[This] is quite the epic piece of work. I am amazed at the power of the writing and the research.
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

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.
Terry Balderson

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.
Terry Balderson

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.
Terry Balderson

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.
Mel Bashore

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

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.
Bill Hafker
Oakton, Virginia

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

Borlaug Volume 1 - Reader Reviews.