Books and Authors

Turn Here Sweet Corn book cover
Atina Diffley Official Website

Through high winds and hail, dry years and wet, and through the pressures of development and corporate interests Atina Diffley and her husband Martin ran one of the first certified organic produce farms in the Midwest.

Diffley has written about her farm and her life in the new book, Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works.

Ed Schipu / Flickr

Newsweek has named Hunter Lovins a "Green Business Icon" and a "Millennium Hero of the Planet" by TIME Magazine for her work in sustainable development. She is the President of Natural Capitalism Solution, and is also the Chief Insurgent of the Madrone Project a non-profit educational team that brings greater depth and scale to sustainability education by delivering advanced modular curricula curated for digital media purposes.

This hour we visit a conversation host Ben Kieffer had with author Scott Cawelti, who tells us about the infamous Mark family killings and reflects on the mind of a mass murderer.

On Halloween night in 1975, Jerry Mark murdered his brothers’ entire family…four people, including two young children, in Cedar Falls. Since 1976, Jerry Mark has been held at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison where he is serving four consecutive life sentences.

Vicky Palermo / whoisjeremyjackson.blogspot.com

When he was 11-years-old, author Jeremy Jackson fell in love for the first time, saw his sister leave for college and lost his grandmother.  It was not the end of his childhood, but, for him, it was the beginning of truly growing up.  Host Charity Nebbe talks with Jackson about his new memoir, "I Will Not Leave You Comfortless."  Then, Napoleon is visiting Iowa City.  We hear about a new exhibit on display at the University of Iowa Museum of Art, "Napoleon and the Art of Propaganda."

After 9/11, suspicion and animosity toward American Muslims spiked. Host Ben Kieffer talks with Eboo Patel, founder and president of the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core. Patel says this prejudice is not just a problem for Muslims, but a challenge to the very idea of America. Patel also discusses his new book, Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America.

After 9/11, suspicion and animosity toward American Muslims spiked.

I’m BK. Next time on RTR, my guest is Eboo Patel, founder and president of the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core.

David Bartemis / AuthorHouse

David Bartemis, a cancer survivor journeyed to climb Africa's highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro with the group “Above and Beyond Cancer.” Bartemis wrote about his experience with the 19 other cancer survivors 21 caregivers in the book, We Call Her Kili.

Talk of Iowa will also speak with cyclists of the Race Across America, an ultra marathon bicycle race across the United States, who hope to raise money for cancer research.

Michael Perry / Sneezingcow.com

On today's River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa delegates at the GOP convention in Tampa, Florida and what challenges their party now faces in the next 10 weeks before the presidential election.

Then, author Michael Perry gives a glimpse of the life of an 82-year old man in rural Wisconsin in his new book, Visiting Tom: A Man, A Highway and the Road to Roughneck Grace.

In 1949 Evelyn Birkby began writing a weekly column for the Shenandoah Evening Sentinel, her editor told her to include a recipe every single week -- and she did -- even though she couldn’t cook. Host Charity Nebbe, talks with Evelyn Birkby and her new book, a collection of her columns, is called “Always Put in a Recipe.”

Thirty-one writers from 28 countries are arriving in Iowa to participate in the writing residency program. UI International Writing Program Director Chris Merrill talks with Ben Kieffer about the program and what it takes to bring the world's greatest writers to Iowa.

The task of daily chores, attending class picnics, and the uneasiness of the Cold War days are just some of the memories Carroll Englehardt, author and professor emeritus of history at Concordia College, shares in his book, “The Farm at Holstein Dip: An Iowa Boyhood.” Then  Jeff Morgan, public information officer at the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Office, talks about the art of  historical preservation with Pete Sixbey, a conservator at the State Historical Society of Iowa.

"Oh My Gods"

Aug 14, 2012

The Greek and Roman myths are stories that have remained steadfast through the ages and continue inspiring artists, playwrights, writers, and filmmakers to this day. Host Charity Nebbe talks with Qualley Professor of Classics at Luther College and author, Philip Freeman, about his book “Oh My Gods”.  The book retells the tales of Zeus, Hades, and the other Olympian gods for the readers of this generation.

Life As A Surgeon

Aug 13, 2012

Many of the tools found in a state of the art operating room are 21st century, but in her new book surgeon Carol Scott-Conner refers to cutting people open as a “primitive and brutal” way to make a living. Host Charity Nebbe talks with Scott-Conner about her collection of fictional short stories, “A Few Small Moments” and her life as a surgeon.

Geral Blanchard spent 35 years working as a counselor. He embraced modern theory and practices. Then, he traveled to Africa. One encounter with a shaman changed his world forever. Host Charity Nebbe talks with Blanchard about that encounter, the journey it began, and his book, Ancient Ways: Indigenous Healing Innovations for the 21st Century.

Iconic Black Women

Aug 8, 2012

Michelle Obama, Gabby Douglas, and Alice Walker are just three women who are reshaping the images of black women in America. Host Charity Nebbe talks with Grinnell College Associate Professor and author Lakesia Johnson about how black women have changed history and defied prejudice. Johnson explores the subject in her book "Iconic: Decoding Images of the Revolutionary Black Woman".

W.W. Norton & Company Publishing

The coming of the railroad transformed Iowa and the rest of the nation in more ways than you can imagine. Host Charity Nebbe  talks with historian and author Richard White, from Standford University, about how the railroads shaped our land, our economy, our political system and touched every part of life in America. His latest book is Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America.

University of Missouri Press

The state of Iowa is defined physically by the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. We, in turn, have done a great deal to shape the rivers. Host Charity Nebbe, talks with author Lisa Knopp about her book “What the River Carries: Encounters with the Mississippi, Missouri and Platte”. Her book takes readers on a personal journey along these rivers, exploring their history, geography, and ecology.

League of Women Voters of California / Flickr

If you’re like many Americans, you’ve become increasingly frustrated with a lack of bipartisan cooperation in congress and the disappearance of centrist politicians willing to work together to solve the nation’s problems. Host Ben Kieffer talks with columnist and Woodrow Wilson Center Scholar, Linda Killian, about her new book The Swing Vote: The Untapped Power of Independents. Also, Wayne Moyer of Grinnell College and Bruce Gronbeck from the University of Iowa analyze political events from the past week.

The Last River Rat

Jul 25, 2012

Kenny Salwey lives along the upper Mississippi River. He hunts, fishes, traps, and writes; while he lives off the land in a cabin he built with his own two hands. He’s known as the "last river rat". Host Charity Nebbe speaks with him about his life, the river he’s built his life around, and his latest book, Muskrat for Supper.

Reinventing Education

Jul 23, 2012

At no time in history have schools been asked to do so much. Author, businessman, and attorney, Jamie Vollmer, experiences the challenges first hand in his book Schools Can't Do It Alone. Charity talks with Vollmer about the struggles education leaders face and how they can redevelop the system to increase student success.

Cold Cases

Jul 20, 2012

Early one morning in 1995, anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit didn’t show up for work at her Mason City TV station.

Her disappearance is one of Iowa’s most discussed unsolved cases. Listen back to host, Ben Kieffer’s, discussion with Beth Bednar about her book on the case called Dead Air.

Then, a look into how state law enforcement goes about investigating dozens of cold cases.

Iowa's Opera Houses

Jul 16, 2012

Though opera houses once meant a town held status, many have since fallen into disrepair. Today efforts are underway to renovate and shed light on Iowa’s opera houses, including Sam Knutson's project, the Iowa Opera House Project, which brings Iowa performers into these antique spaces for locals to experience.

Later, Richard Poole and George Glenn, co-authors of The Opera Houses of Iowa, share the history of the state’s opera houses.

When Jake Bouma of Des Moines was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma earlier this year, he and his wife decided to document his cancer journey on video. Host Charity Nebbe speaks with Jake and his wife, Libby, about their documentary.

Willpower

Jul 6, 2012

The average person spends four hours of their day battling… temptation. We listen back to Ben Kieffer's conversation with New York Times science writer John Tierney. His book Willpower looks at the latest research on self-control and how you can strengthen it. Then, Jennifer Margrett of Iowa State University talks about her study on how social partners can help extend memory.

When Joe Murphy’s wife, Linda, spies an ad for a “beautiful 3-story Victorian house in need of some TLC,” the couple jumps at the chance for their dream home. Renovating it will allow them to indulge their passion for antiques and to get closer to an era they believe was a better time. Privately, Joe hopes that the project will also fill the void that has opened within their family life.

Today's "River to River" features noted space historian, Andrew Chaikin. Chaikin is author of the acclaimed A Man on the Moon and several other books about space. He’ll be visiting Iowa to talk about the search for life in the solar system. Then, Grinnell College President Raynard Kington as part of our summer series talking with Iowa university and college presidents.

Political Road Trip

Jun 27, 2012

If you avoid discussing politics in mixed company, imagine road-tripping across the country with someone from the opposing party.  Republican Meghan McCain and Democrat Michael Ian Black join Ben Kieffer to discuss their travels across the country in their new book, "America You Sexy Bitch".  They traveled through red and blue parts of the country talking with voters and each other.  

 

 

Simple French Food

Jun 27, 2012

When you think of French food, the word simple probably does not come to mind. Wini Moranville, restaurant reviewer for the Des Moines Register, will introduce us to simple French home cooking. Her new cookbook is the Bonne Femme cookbook…simple splendid food that French women cook every day. Later, we’ll hear from the authors of Farmstead Chef, a book full recipes that rely on locally grown ingredients.

 

Sometimes we tend to think of the FBI as America’s police force, but the bureau’s primary mission is actually secret intelligence. Host Ben Kieffer talks about the history of the FBI with award-winning author Tim Weiner and his new book Enemies: A History of the FBI. Later, Ben talks with Jim McMillan, a special agent stationed in the Quad Cities, about the facts and fiction behind being an agent.

Practical Wisdom

Jun 11, 2012

Greek philosopher Aristotle called it practical wisdom; we know it as common sense. Is there a lack of it in our society? In an encore show, listen back to when host Ben Kieffer spoke with Political Science Professor Kenneth Sharpe who, along with Barry Schwartz, wrote a book that argues much dissatisfaction with institutions comes from people within the system being unable to use their practical wisdom – or common sense. Also listen to callers who share personal stories of instances where practical wisdom was abundant, or abundantly lacking.

Jerry Twedt’s great grandparents, Ole and Helena Branjord, settled on the Iowa frontier in the late 1860s. He has researched his family’s history and turned it into a novel. Host Charity Nebbe talks with Jerry about his novel “Land of Promise, Land of Tears”, and the fictional world he built around his family’s true story. Later, Charity talks with Teresa White from Usher’s Ferry History Village in Cedar Rapids and Dan Jones from Living History Farms in Des Moines about camp opportunities for young people to live history this summer.

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