Recent Reviews



Books by Zachary Michael Jack have been well and widely reviewed in leading periodicals  across the nation. Below are excerpts of reviews from Zachary’s most recent books.

midwestbookreviewSelected Reviews for Wish You Were Here: Love and Longing in an American Heartland

“Wish You Were Here is an anthology of essays about life in the Midwest heartland, from the viewpoint of award-winning, seventh-generation rural author Zachary Michael Jack. Jack challenges the stereotypes of rural living, and presents why he loves the land and the tight-knit communities of the countryside. Heartwarming, candid, and penned directly the depths of the soul, Wish You Were Here is highly recommended.” — Midwest Book Review 




Selected Reviews for March of the Suffragettes: Rosalie Gardiner Jones and the March for Voting Rights

“With an informal writing style, this is an engaging title that will appeal to many readers. The use of newspapers accounts of the march helps bring this event into the 21st century.  A fine chronicle of the early 20th-century United States and the tenacity of Rosalie Gardiner Jones.”–School Library Journal

“Though the book is a perfect vehicle to get teen-agers interested in reading about history, the complexity and density of information Jack provides, as well as his facility with humor and dramatic tension, will also hook more mature readers.”–Santa Fe New Mexican

“Social change starts with a step and for Rosalie Gardiner Jones who gathered a group of people to walk with her to Albany from New York City to win rights for women in the voting booth. There were many voices that contributed. Some we know well and others like Jones need accessible texts like this one that highlight the outspoken bravery it took to fight for certain rights.” Alicia Abdul, writing for the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)

Selected Reviews for Corn Poll: A Novel of the Iowa Caucuses

5-Star Review: Corn Poll is a…humorous farce with an old-fashioned ethos about the importance of small towns and tradition when it comes to politics. The writing is lively…” –Foreword Reviews

“Corn Poll is a sweetly savage satire….an enjoyable romp.”  –Matthew Schaefer, Annals of Iowa

“A nice break from the grind of campaign news…. Beyond the spoofing of characters you’ll recognize, there’s a warm hope for something better in our political system.” — David Yepsen, Director, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, Southern Illinois University

“Corn Poll is a hoot and a holler for political reform. In the satirical tradition of Joe Klein’s Primary Colors and Jane Smiley’s Moo, this book will make you laugh and then think. In fact, what Zachary Michael Jack has to say might just make a difference in next year’s Iowa caucuses…and wouldn’t that be a good thing!” — Dr. Timothy Walch, Director Emeritus, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library

“Covering the Iowa Caucuses for nearly forty years has taught me the greatest untold story in the Caucuses is the story of the people who cover them, real people with real thoughts and emotions. This book captures that image and brings new life to a political event that has become a tradition in the nation’s political life.” — Mike Glover, former Associated Press Statehouse and Political Reporter, Managing Editor, the Iowa Daily Democrat

“Corn Poll is an engaging story…  It’s an insightful,  behind-the-scenes peek at Presidential candidates and the media personalities covering the campaign drama.” — Dean Borg, host of Iowa Press on PBS, Iowa Public Radio correspondent, winner of the Jack Shelley Award for lifetime achievement from the Iowa Broadcast News Association

“A rollicking, entertaining novel of the Iowa caucuses by a smart and idealistic native son. This inspiring tale is infused with the hopeful and fighting spirit of La Follette-style Midwestern populism.” — Bill Kauffman, author, Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazetteand Bye, Bye Miss American Empire: Neighborhood Patriots, Back Country Rebels, and their Underdog Crusades to Redraw America’s Map

“Zachary Michael Jack has given us a great book—one that somehow changes the perspective of the reader when looking at real-life politics. It keeps us guessing, thinking, and laughing.” — Dr. Jeff Taylor, Professor of Political Science, Dordt College (IA), author, Politics on a Human Scale and Where Did the Party Go: William Jennings Bryan, Hubert Humphrey, and the Jeffersonian Legacy

Selected Reviews for Midwest Farmer’s Daughter: In Search of An American Icon “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter offers an engaging, optimistic, and much-needed glimpse into the evolution of women in agriculture and popular discourse over the past century.” Jenny Barker Devine, Annals of Iowa

The Midwest Farmer’s Daughter is an effort to advocate on behalf of farm families and to provide a historical look at a way of life that’s vanishing.” –Matt Kelley, Radio Iowa and Radio Nebraska

Selected Reviews for Native Soulmate: A Season in Search of a Love Homegrown

“A charming and original read, very much recommended.” –Small Press Bookwatch

“Part 1500-mile travelogue and part real-life love story, Native Soulmate offers not just an account of a magical trek and its uncanny, sweetcorn settings, but a moving argument for how voting with your feet and leading with your heart really can matter. Jack’s work is as much about place as it is about the story, and lucky for us, his chosen place is Iowa.” –Oskaloosa News

“Much more than a look into marriage, brain drain, or dating, it is an honest, caring, and heartfelt look at our Midwestern world of agriculture, community, family, and love.”–Pella Chronicle

“[Native Soulmate] is a combination of participatory journalism, travelogue, and love story. And, yes, in addition to being a love-of-place story, it’s also a personal love story.” Jeff Ignatius, Quad City Reader

“A deeply personal and heartfelt journey.”– Mike Kilen, Des Moines Register

Selected Reviews for Let There Be Pebble: A Middle-Handicappers Year in America’s Garden of Golf.

“An up-close look at every golfer’s nirvana: the Pebble Beach Golf course in Carmel, Calif., in the year leading up to the 2010 U.S. Open.” –Los Angeles Times

“Jack opts…to chronicle a U.S. Open Year spent at Pebble, object of his ailing father’s fantasies and site of the nation’s number one public golf course.” –Michael Coffey, Publishers Weekly

An inviting escapade into discovering—with the help of a diverse cast including Golf in the Kingdom author Michael Murphy, Clint Eastwood, the caddie corps, and Jack Nicklaus himself—why Pebble and its high-rent environs are always so absorbing, especially in an Open season.” –GOLF magazine

“Few courses have spawned as many published words as Pebble Beach. It’s unlikely that any writer will ever tackle this subject with the skill displayed by Jack.” –Martin Kaufmann, Golf Week

“An inviting escapade into discovering—through a diverse cast from Michael Murphy and Clint Eastwood to the caddie corps and the author himself—why Pebble and its high-rent environs are always so absorbing, especially in an Open season.” –

Let There Be Pebble is a wonderful compendium of material on golf, life and the Monterey Peninsula.” –Stuart Shiffman,

“A golfer’s unabashed love letter to one of the world’s most spectacular courses.” –Kirkus Reviews

Selected Reviews for What Cheer: A Love Story

“Jack writes simply…but it fits the subject. An old fashioned-search for a soul mate among Iowa fields.” –Mike Kilen, Des Moines Register

What Cheer: A Love Story is as much a sonnet to…near forgotten traditions as it is the tale of one man’s pursuit.” Mary Steigmeir, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

“Fiction and nonfiction, as well as poetry, essays, and literary journalism, have earned this gifted writer an important place in modern literature.” Julia Ann Charpentier, Foreword Reviews

“Zachary Michael Jack joins new and old in this clever, endlessly inventive mystery and love story…a blend of experience and innocence, ingenuity and earnestness—and hope.”–Barbara Lounsberry, author,Time and Chance

“For all of us who have ever pinned dreams to a particular place, Zachary Michael Jack’s What Cheer isn’t just a love story, it’s a spiritual fulfillment.”–Adrienne P. Lamberti, author, Talk the Talk

“A celebration of midwestern values at their loving best!”–Lynne Carey, Ames Public Library

Selected Reviews for Liberty Hyde Bailey: Essential Environmental and Agrarian Writings

“This book is an excellent introduction to the breadth and depth of L. H. Bailey’s writing, and may serve to greatly expand the conversation around Bailey’s work to a much larger audience.” Brent Aldrich, Englewood Review

“In a style that is at once impressionistic, scientific, and surpassingly poetic, he urges us to pay attention, or, in contemporary parlance, be mindful…. With a revelation on nearly every page this collection is highly recommended for all libraries looking to bolster their environmental history collections.” –Library Journal

, “Few contemporary writers remind the reader in such reflective rhetoric of the simple—yet provocative—ecological meaning of the commonplace phenomena that surround us…. Recommended, academic and public libraries, all levels.” –M. Evans, CHOICE

“This collection of writings, edited and superbly introduced by Zachary Michael Jack, is a welcome reminder of [Liberty Hyde] Bailey’s prescience and power.” —Resurgence 

“Jack performs a tremendous service to the field of rural sociology in its broadest interpretation (perhaps saving my sabbatical as well), by bringing these books down, dusting them off, and sharing them with us.” Richard C. Stedman, Rural Sociology

“I thank Zachary Michael Jack for the care and skill he exhibited in retrieving Bailey’s voice, and I look forward to the revelations that will surely come among those who take the time to listen to it.” Scott J. Peters, Agricultural History

“What a great and lucky thing to have these soaring words back in print—and at exactly the right moment. It’s clear, looking at our dwindling supplies of oil, that we’re going to need more Americans doing the noble work of farming, literally following in Bailey’s footsteps.”—Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy

 “At a time when the need for environmentalism was just beginning to be recognized, Liberty Hyde Bailey was already writing passionately about the importance of a better attitude toward the land, and how the need was increasing with the expansion of urbanism. His vision spoke prophetically of the increasing need to act responsibly to the environment—a clear antecedent to Aldo Leopold’s call for an ethical relationship to the land.”—A. Carl Leopold
 “This is a delightful book. The collection of essays Zachary Michael Jack has selected provide the reader with a remarkably comprehensive picture of the life and work of Liberty Hyde Bailey. The timing of this book could not be better.” —Fred Kirschenmann, Director, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University, and President, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture