Iowa State Historical Society Picks Iowa the Definitive Collection

Zachary Michael’s Jack’s tribute to the history and history-makers of his home state: Iowa the Definitive Collection was recently honored by the Iowa State Historical Society by its inclusion as one of only 10 recommended general readings focusing on the state of Iowa.

Tom Morain, former administrator of the State Historical Society of Iowa, agrees in his recent review in the Annals of Iowa, where he writes: “Jack has made a host of Iowa luminaries conveniently accessible. Like DNA from prehistoric ancestors, quotes drawn from Iowa the Definitive Collection will likely begin to appear and reappear in Iowa histories and commentaries for decades to come. Perhaps in the near future, the mark of a distinguished Iowa scholar will be his or her ability to cite an Iowa author not included in Jack’s collection.”


Iowa, the Definitive Collection gathers for student, teacher, researcher, and leisure reader alike a rich harvest of Iowa lore as told by a bevy of its most famous and forgotten voices Iowa history as made and told by Iowans, for Iowans. Totaling over 500 browsable pages and nearly 100 highly readable, classic and contemporary selections, this mammoth compendium of Iowa history, literature, and lore captures the Hawkeye State more diversely and more comprehensively than ever before. Here is a book a big book of Iowa readings of every conceivable kind (campaign platforms, creeds, diaries, editorials, ethnographic studies, fictions, government documents, history, humor, journalism, legal opinions, letters, memoirs, pamphlets, speeches, travel narratives, and more) and of every historical vintage (from Black Hawk s lament on being ordered to move west to Iowa in 1831 to Iowa writer-anthropologist Robert Leonard s freshly-penned roll call of the many different Iowans he has known). Between these covers, world-famous sons and daughters of Iowa, including Carrie Chapman Catt, Bob Feller, Susan Glaspell, Herbert Hoover, Ted Kooser, Aldo Leopold, Glenn Miller, Wallace Stegner, Henry Wallace, Grant Wood, and many others join a chorus of forgotten or neglected native greats to tell the story of their home state as only Iowans can tell it. Perfect fodder for Iowa history and literature classes, book clubs, civic organizations, museums, libraries, and visitor centers across the Land Between Two Rivers, Iowa, the Definitive Collection offers a first-of-its-kind, popular documentary history suitable for singing loudly, proudly, and circumspectly across the State, and across generations.

“So packed with the many dimensions of the Iowa character and experience that I hardly know how to describe it. A great Olla Podrida. A trip around the state, border to border, farm to market, town and gown, past to present. Natives and newcomers both should love it.” –Robert Sayre, Professor Emeritus, University of Iowa

“Here is Iowa and its literary grist, from Black Hawk to Ruth Suckow, Ted Kooser, and Herbert Hoover; from O Brien County, Mechanicsville, Buxton, and the sluggish Nishnabotna River; a Hawkeye State smorgasbord of rich black soil that germinated so many fine writers” –Drake Hokanson

“Zachary Michael Jack is quite right when he says ‘Iowa gets under your skin’–more importantly, his new book gets into your head. From the melancholic memoir of Chief Black Hawk to the poetic prose of Ted Kooser. Beautifully designed, this book is nothing short of a hymn to the Hawkeye State. It belongs in every public library and classroom in Iowa.” –Timothy Walch, Director of the Hoover Presidential Library and Trustee of the State Historical Society of Iowa.

“A historical, vivid, and heartfelt reciting of the not-to-be-forgotten heroes/heroines and their efforts and sacrifices to make the land between two rivers into the Iowa we all know.” –Cyndi, Pederson, Director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.”

“This is a rich anthology to sample, savor and share with friends and family. It captures Iowa and its essence–the land and the climate, the people, the history, and the spirit–through an eclectic assortment of Iowans writing about their state and their experience. A must-read for all Iowans. –Bill Friedricks, Iowa Public Historian