Midwest Farmer’s Daughter featured in national radio and media

Check out the national radio interviews with Zachary Michael Jack on The Midwest Farmer’s Daughter: In Search of An American Icon. Hear them at Illinois Public Radio, Iowa Public Radio. Harvest Media, and the Successful Farming Radio Show, among others. Look for articles about MFD in magazines nationwide, including Successful Farming magazine and Modern Farmer.


From yesterday’s gingham girls to today’s Google-era Farmer Janes, The Midwest Farmer’s Daughter explores the resurgent role played by female agriculturalists at a time when fully 30 percent of new farms in the US are woman-owned, but when, paradoxically, America’s farm-reared daughters are conspicuously absent from popular film, television, and literature. In this first-of-its-kind treatment, Zachary Michael Jack follows the fascinating story of the girl who became a regional and national legend: from Donna Reed to Laura Ingalls Wilder, from Elly May Clampett to The Dukes of Hazzard’s Catherine Bach, from Lawrence Welk’s TV sweethearts to the tragic heroines of Jane Smiley’s Thousand Acres. From Amish farm women bloggers, to Missouri homesteaders and seed-savers, to rural Nebraskan graphic novelists and, ultimately, to the seven generations of entrepreneurial Iowan farm women who have animated his own family since before the Civil War, Jack shines new documentary light on the symbol of American virtue, energy, and ingenuity that rural writer Martha Foote Crow once described as the “great rural reserve of initiating force, sane judgment and spiritual drive.”

Packed with dozens of interviews, The Midwest Farmer’s Daughter covers the history and the renaissance of agrarian women on both sides of the fence. Giving equal consideration to both agriculture’s time-tested rural and small-town Farm Bureaus, 4-H, and FFA training grounds as well as to the eco-innovations generated by the region’s rising woman-powered “agro-polises” such as Chicago, the author crafts a lively, easy-to-read cultural and social history, exploring the pioneering role today’s female agriculturalists play in the emergence of farmers’ markets, urban farms, community-supported agriculture, and the new “back-to-the-land” and “do-it-yourself” movements. For all those whose lives have been graced by the enduring strength of American farm women, The Midwest Farmer’s Daughter offers a groundbreaking examination of a dynamic American icon.

Let There Be Pebble named Golf Digest editor’s pick

Let There Be Pebble: A Middle-Handicapper’s Year in America’s Garden of Golf has earned a nomination for the William H. Hill Sports Book of the Year Award and the USGA’s Herbert Warren Wind Book Award as well as year-end accolades including:

Golf Digest Editor’s Pick
Golf Week, Top 5 Travel Books
Golf Magazine, Best Books of 2011

Let There Be Pebble: A Middle-Handicapper’s Year in America’s Garden of Golf has received widespread critical acclaim and has been short-listed for multiple year-end awards. Sample reviewer reactions to Zachary Michael Jack’s latest work of literary journalism and creative nonfiction covering the legendary California course and its fairy-tale setting on the Monterey Peninsula. Read the full text of Martin Kaufmann’s GolfWeek review at http://www.golfweek.com/news/2011/jun/23/jack-tackles-chronicle-pebble-success/?Travel
It was “scary,” Jack Nicklaus said of Pebble Beach, and gave him nightmares so acute he famously woke his wife on the eve of his 1972 U.S. Open victory totally spooked. “It’s not a golf course,” sportswriter Jim Murray wrote, “it’s a hellship.” Golf writer Dan Jenkins once joked that the famed venue of the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am should be dubbed “Double Bogey-by-the-Sea.”
A one-time failed Division One golf walk-on, Zachary Michael Jack opts to stare down an early midlife crisis by chronicling a U.S. Open year spent at Pebble Beach, object of his ailing father’s fantasies and site of the nation’s number one public course and its fairy-tale host town, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. There, along the blue Pacific, he traces the colorful, capricious, and comical world of golf on the Monterey Peninsula as never before via interviews with legends of the game Johnny Miller, Gary Player, and Tom Watson; with today’s brightest stars—Padraig Harrington, Phil Mickelson, and Bubba Watson; and with some of its most famous celebrity linksters—actor Bill Murray, Olympic soccer star Brandi Chastain, and billionaire entrepreneur Charles Schwab.
Conducting more than one hundred interviews, Jack ranges far and wide to get the scoop, talking golfing haunts with bestselling golf novelist Michael Murphy; teeing up with members of a Carmel-based worldwide golfing society devoted to mystical play; learning to play Pebble at the knee of one of the Top 50 Golf Teachers in America and with a Carmel-based journeyman pro described as “a golf savant”; and raising a cup with a lifelong Pebble Beach resident and caddy who, unbeknownst to the hackers he shepherds, is a Hall of Fame golfer. By turns hilarious, haunting, and historic, Let There Be Pebble reveals the utter uniqueness—the people, the rich history, the unforgettable setting and sporting culture—of this one-of-a-kind golfing cathedral.
“There’s plenty to satisfy, entertain and prod most golfers to want to read this one on Pebble. . . . An absolute winner!”—Bob Koczor, Golf Today
“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
“Every golfer goes through some variation of the mid-life crisis. Not everyone gets to do it on the Monterrey Peninsula. Once the obvious envy is removed from the equation, what’s left is 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.”—Golf.com
“A real-life golf fantasy year, boldly lived and exuberantly told.”—Kirkus
“Like the author himself, the reader of Let There Be Pebble won’t play golf one bit better at the end of the book. But there are enough laughs, and even a few poignant moments in between, to satisfy any golfer.”—Jack Shakely, Foreword
Let There Be Pebble immerses the reader in the history, myths and legends of Pebble Beach. Jack lets us hear firsthand from golfers, local historians, employees and former local reporters—even those with contrarian views—while blending in the written history.”—Tim Gebhart, Blogcritics
“If David Sedaris, Studs Terkel, and George Plimpton got together to write a book about golf they might come up with something as enticing and magical as Let There Be Pebble.”—Rus Bradburd, author of Forty Minutes of Hell: the Extraordinary Life of Nolan Richardson

Let There Be Pebble is a book for sports fans and lovers of great writing. Faraway fairways and magical greens, history and thrills, hilarity and woe… Zachary Michael Jack’s year spent next to California’s fabled Pebble Beach offers not just a reading of the greens but a rediscovery of the self.”—Steve Friedman, author of The Agony of Victory


New YA novel gets radio debut on The Culture Buzz

Pond Ball Clintock was featured on the globally streaming talk show The Culture Buzz on January 8, 2014. John Busbee’s radio interview with Zachary Michael Jack also aired on KFMG 98.1 FM.

Early Praise for Pond Ball Clintock and the Gods of Golf

“A charming and heart-tugging life and golf story. Pond Ball Clintock offers readers many lively characters and mixes warmth, intrigue, and family complexities. A book that can be appreciated by young and old alike.”--Wayne Morden, author of Golf Shorts and Plus Fours: Musings from a Golfing Traditionalist

“The earthiness of Huck Finn, the intrigue of the Hardy Boys, and the ethereal golf qualities of Shivas Irons…Pond Ball Clintock is a fun read for every golfer, regardless of age. My golf library measures into the thousands of books, and over the past 50 years I have read nearly all of them, but “Pond Ball Clintock and the Gods of Golf” is one of my favorites.  Zachary Michael Jack’s creative mind, down home writing style, and colorful and historic imagery make this book special for golfers of any age.”–Michael J. Hurdzan, 1997 Golf Course Architect of the Year, author of Golf Course Architecture, winner of the Old Tom Morris Award

“Before video games, the imaginations of dreamers young and old operated without the electronic boundaries of batteries. There were tree houses, snow forts, stickball championships, and yes, backyard golf courses. Recapture your youth and your love for the game, with Pond Ball Clintock and the Gods of Golf.” –Michael Patrick Shiels, author of Secrets of the Great Golf Course Architects and former PGA Tour staff member

Pond Ball Clintock and the Gods of Golf is a sort of Field of Dreams for our sport. Pond Ball plays the game for all the right reasons.”–Mike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer at WorldGolf.com, a division of GOLF CHANNEL

“If you love to play golf or to watch it, this book is a must. It’s a book for everyone since everything is in it: family ancestry, courtship and friendship, farming, great meals, theology, the world of spirit, and especially “mother earth” without whom we would have neither farming nor golf, work nor play.” –Robert J. Higgs, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author of God in the Stadium

“No golfer will ever have quite the same view of the the game of golf after meeting Pond Ball Clintock. A whimsical and heartwarming tale of a young golfer surrounded by golf, friends and family, it will touch readers of all ages. Pond Ball Clintock and the Gods of Golf ranks with some of the best golf and sports spiritual novels I have seen. It is truly an enjoyable read.”–Stuart Shiffman, Bookreporter.com

Samuel “Pond Ball” Clintock drew the short stick in life, some folks say. He wasn’t born with a Cadillac in his driveway, a Titleist in his fairway, or a caddy on his bag. He isn’t one of the “in” kids at Harry S. Truman middle school. His best friend in life and partner in crime is his golf-gifted father, Chip, who’s mysteriously sworn off the game, and who hasn’t held a driver’s license, a 9-iron, or a real job in years. Still, Sammy has reason to be happy, what with a mostly friendly goat in his back pasture, a legendary golf course in his back yard, and pond balls aplenty in his back pocket. There’s one problem, though. The course he’s bringing back to life, Mimosa G.C., has been shuttered and mothballed since the dark days of the Great Depression, when its infamous, cigar-smoking Scottish architect Alistair McCrackup last stalked its sand traps alongside Sammy’s great-granddaddy. So when Pond Ball, his diamond-in-the-rough dad, and his best friends Daisy and A.J. begin resurrecting the abandoned lay-out during summer vacation, they can’t help but stir up 18 holes worth of ghosts. Before they can holler fore! Pond Ball and company find themselves struggling to save the divine old course from the memories, heavenly and dastardly, some would prefer to see buried along with it. From pine woods so deep they’re spiritual to cornfields so endless they might be eternal—from 30,000 feet in the air squarely back down to the blessed turf of the magical Mimosa G.C.—Pond Ball and friends prove it’s not what brand of golf ball you play or what golf cart you drive that gives you soul, but whom and what you believe in.

Zachary Michael Jack is the author of many critically acclaimed books on sports and sporting places, including the golf parable The Links of Evalon and the travelogue Let There Be Pebble: A Middle Handicapper’s Year in America’s Garden of Golf. Jack’s golf writing has earned nominations for the USGA’s Herbert Warren Wind Book Award and the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, among others.

What Cheer Named Book of the Year Medalist

What Cheer: A Love Story has been awarded the Silver Medal in its class as the runner-up in the 2010 Foreword Reviews Book of the Year competition.

Part romantic comedy, part whodunit, part great American road trip, What Cheer asks a lover’s ageless questions: where, when, and with whom? Here is a celebration of love sprung from perfectly surreal yet real places What Cheer, Lost Nation, Story County. Here is a comedy of errors featuring three not-yet-over-the-hill friends, a series of dreamy love letters, and a mysterious list of warm, nearly-gone touchstones that inspire a rollicking ride through the Heartland. What Cheer is love medicine for those whose daisy chains reach the sweetest, most far-flung places.
Sample what authors, journalists, librarians, and reviewers are saying about What Cheer:
“Critics are raving about Jack’s…tribute to midwestern values.” –Julia Ann Charpentier, Foreword Reviews

“Jack writes simply…it fits the subject–an old-fashioned search for a soulmate among Iowa fields.” –Mike Kilen, The Des Moines Register

“As much a sonnet to…near-forgotten traditions as it is the tale of one man’s pursuit.” –Mary Stegmeir, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

“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 Lamberti, author, Talk the Talk

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


Native Soulmate named reviewers choice

November’s Small Press Bookwatch named Native Soulmate: A Season in Search of a Love Homegrown a Reviewer’s Choice, calling it a “charming and original read, very much recommended.” The Des Moines Register agrees, praising Zachary Michael Jack’s latest book of creative nonfiction as “a deeply personal and heartfelt journey.”

From the cover:

“At the height of a Heartland summer a seventh generation Midwesterner unlucky in love sets forth from a faraway farm on a quest to road-test what he calls his Beach Boys hypothesis: What if we really do live in a world where native boy meets native girl…What if the cutest boys and girls in the world really do live right under our noses? So begins a Cinderella season in search of a love homegrown. Pursuing the dream wherever it may lead, the author delivers speeches in far-flung farm burgs and readings in well-to-do college towns while setting up listening posts in public libraries and chautauquas in cattle barns. 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 Croy Collection Picked By Foreword Reviews

Zachary Michael Jack’s collection of the best Middle American work of Homer Croy reintroduces readers to the underappreciated yet best-selling literary journalist, nonfictionist, and memoirist.

Sample reviews and endorsements of Homer Croy Corn Country:

“Homer Croy was a blue-ribbon humorist, and Corn Country is a funny and engaging collection of his best work.” –Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize-winner

“The corn reads great, now that Homer Croy is back in print!” –Timothy Walch, Director, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & trustee of the State Historical Society of Iowa

“This inviting collection brings back into the spotlight one of the best humorists of the American Midwest with an appeal, like that of regional humorist Garrison Keillor, that stretches far beyond the Corn Belt.” –Foreword Magazine

“These pieces reveal Croy s core sensibility, his wild wit tempered by warmth of feeling… They confirm Croy as an important American and Midwestern literary figure.” –C. D. Albin, Southwest Missouri State University


One part Mark Twain, and two parts Garrison Keillor, prize-winning humorist and essayist Homer Croy was a man of many distinctions: The first student of the first school of journalism in the United States, the first person to tour the world shooting motion pictures, and the first author of his day to write a best-selling novel that happened to be anonymous. Dale Carnegie dedicated his opus “How to Win Friends and Influence People” to him; Will Rogers, for whom Croy wrote more films than any other, made him honored guest at his Thanksgiving table. In between his pioneering studies in journalism at the University of Missouri and his mid-life, Missouri farm memoirs that sold in the hundreds of thousands, Croy flunked out of college, moved to the Big Apple, filmed his way around the world, tied the knot in the first marriage ever captured on a Universal newsreel, worked for Theodore Dreiser, earned a fortune, moved to Paris, tragically lost two children, wrote for Hollywood, earned an honorary doctorate, and, in the end, lost his fortune all while maintaining the down-home humor and heart that earned him a reputation among peers as the towering cornstalk of midcentury, midwestern memoir.



The Links of Evalon praised by Golf in America author

The Links of Evalon has earned praise from across the golf world since its publication for the U.S. Open. Sample the reactions:

“If you believe golf can repair our relationships and teach the game of life, The Links of Evalon is for you!” GEORGE KIRSCH, Manhattan College, author of Golf in America

“Jack’s lively, easy-to-read tale teaches that each of us must find our own way on the links and in life.” MIKE BAILEY, the WorldGolf Network


Jack’s The Green Roosevelt released in e-book and hard cover

“Zachary Michael Jack has, once again, done us all a great favor, bringing together the writings of Teddy Roosevelt.” –Dr. Jim Pease, Emeritus Associate Professor, Iowa State University


America’s first Green president, Theodore Roosevelt’s credentials as both naturalist and writer are as impressive as they are deep, emblematic of the twenty-sixth President’s unprecedented breadth and energy. While Roosevelt authored policies that grew the public domain by a remarkable 230 million acres, he likewise penned over thirty-five books and an estimated 150,000 letters, many concerning the natural world. In between drafts both personal and political, scientific and sentimental, he quadrupled existing forest reserves while creating the nation’s first fifty wildlife refuges and eighteen national monuments, among them the Grand Canyon, and five national parks, headlined by Yosemite. And Roosevelt was far more than a policy wonk and political do-gooder. John Muir, by his own admission, “fairly fell in love with him.” John Burroughs wrote that Roosevelt “probably knew tenfold more natural history than all the presidents who preceded him.” And the Smithsonian’s Edmund Heller dubbed him the “foremost field naturalist of our time.” In addition to creating more than 150,000 new acres of national forest, Roosevelt made a new vogue of sportsmanship, famously refusing to shoot a lame bear in Mississippi and inspiring, thereof, an American icon and ecological fetish all at once: the Teddy Bear. Indeed, Roosevelt’s Green undertakings produced a truly living legacy-one whose everlasting qualities he took robust pleasure in. Naturalist William Finley once suggested to TR that the President’s environmental prescience would serve as “one of the greatest memorials to [his] farsightedness,” to which Roosevelt replied, “Bully. I had rather have it than a hundred stone monuments.” In fact, Roosevelt would have both-a lasting reputation for environmental protection and timeless stone monuments at Mount Rushmore and elsewhere built to honor his dramatic public policy initiatives. This book will be a critical resource for all those in American history (particularly presidential history), environmental history, environmental studies, nature studies, place studies, Agrarian studies, conservation studies, fish and wildlife biology/management, and ecology.

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