Montana Public Radio

'The Dreamer And The Doctor' With Jack Nisbet

Jan 16, 2020

Nisbet’s most recent project, The Dreamer and the Doctor, traces the unlikely adventures of late 19th-century plant lover John Leiberg and his physician wife Carrie around the Intermountain West and beyond. Idaho author Kim Barnes says that “Jack Nisbet continues to educate, entertain, and mesmerize with this meticulously written and researched story of two people-of-destiny whose intelligence and passion transformed our awareness and understanding of the Northwest.”

The Dreamer and the Doctor: A Forest Lover and a Physician on the Edge of the Frontier

To hear a conversation with Jack Nisbet about his nonfiction book, "The Dreamer and the Doctor: A Forest Lover and a Physician on the Edge of the Frontier," click the link above or subscribe to our podcast.

About the Book:

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the rapidly-closing American frontier still held promise as a natural landscape where second chances could be realized. John and Carrie Leiberg arrived in Idaho Territory in 1885 with a fragile infant, a shaky homestead claim, and ambitions that reached far beyond John’s interest in native plants or Carrie’s newly minted physician’s license.

Through a series of unlikely twists, both pioneers found ways to pursue their deeper passions. John carried out landmark botanical surveys and forest reserve assessments that helped to lay the groundwork for our modern National Forest system. Carrie worked as a family practice doctor, hired on as the head surgeon for an entire district of the Northern Pacific Railroad, and ran for political office at a time when only a handful of states even allowed women to vote.

The Leiberg adventures spilled out of the Northwest to touch issues of public health, government control, and person freedom that remain in hot dispute today; their accomplishments stand as touchstones of character and identity for an entire region.

Jack Nisbet
Credit James Nisbet

About the Author:

Jack Nisbet lives and works with his wife Claire in Spokane. He is the author of several collections of essays that explore the human and natural history of the Northwest, including Purple Flat Top, Visible Bones, and Ancient Places.

Nisbet has also written award-winning biographies of cartographer David Thompson (Sources of the River) and naturalist David Douglas (The Collector). Those projects led to further investigations that resulted in illustrated volumes titled The Mapmaker’s Eye: David Thompson on the Columbia Plateau and David Douglas: A Naturalist at Work, as well as traveling museum exhibits curated by Jack and Claire. In 2018, the Washington State Historical Society presented Nisbet with the Robert Gray medal for distinguished and long-term contributions to Pacific Northwest history.

Nisbet’s most recent project, The Dreamer and the Doctor, traces the unlikely adventures of late 19th-century plant lover John Leiberg and his physician wife Carrie around the Intermountain West and beyond. Idaho author Kim Barnes says that “Jack Nisbet continues to educate, entertain, and mesmerize with this meticulously written and researched story of two people-of-destiny whose intelligence and passion transformed our awareness and understanding of the Northwest.”

For more information visit www.jacknisbet.com.