FULL BODY BURDEN: GROWING UP IN THE NUCLEAR SHADOW OF ROCKY FLATS

Full Body Burden is a haunting work of narrative nonfiction about a young woman growing up in a small Colorado town close to Rocky Flats, a secret nuclear weapons plant once designated “the most contaminated site in America.” It’s the story of growing up in the shadow of the Cold War, in a landscape at once startlingly beautiful and—unknown to those who lived there—tainted with invisible yet deadly particles of plutonium. It’s also a book about the destructive power of secrets—both family secrets and government secrets. Her father’s hidden liquor bottles, the strange cancers in children in the neighborhood, the truth about what they made at Rocky Flats (cleaning supplies, her mother guessed)—best not to inquire too deeply into any of it. But as Iversen grew older, she began to ask questions. In her early thirties, she even worked at Rocky Flats for a time, typing up memos in which accidents were always called “incidents.”And as this memoir unfolds, it also reveals itself as a brilliant work of investigative journalism—a shocking account of the government’s sustained attempt to conceal the effects of the toxic and radioactive waste released by Rocky Flats, and of local residents’ vain attempts to seek justice in court. Based on extensive interviews, FBI and EPA documents, and class action testimony, this taut, beautifully written book promises to have a very long half-life.


MOLLY BROWN: UNRAVELING THE MYTH

When Margaret Tobin Brown arrived in New York City shortly after her perilous night in Titanic’s Lifeboat Six, a legend was born. Through magazines, books, a Broadway musical, and a Hollywood movie, she became “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” but in the process her life story was distorted beyond recognition. Even her name was changed–she was never known as Molly during her lifetime. Molly Brown: Unraveling the Myth is the first full-length biography of this American icon, and the story it tells is of a passionate and outspoken crusader for the rights of women, children, mine workers, and others struggling for their voice in the early twentieth century.

Winner of the Colorado Book Award in Biography and the Barbara Sudler Award for Nonfiction. Named one of the top books about Colorado history and the West.

“In this extensively researched biography, the first serious work on Brown, Iversen reveals that Brown was a far more fascinating and important figure than her stage or screen portrayals suggest . . . Iversen is particularly adept at placing Brown in the context of her times, making the most of this opportunity to reexamine the Gilded Age and the early 20th century through the lens of feminism and economic and social change.” Publishers Weekly

“In addition to challenging the formidable myth of Molly Brown, Iversen also offers a piercing analysis of why such a unique, intelligent, and capable woman was stereotyped as a farcical burlesque figure by both the media and genteel society.” Booklist

“An entertaining, vivid, and intelligent biography of the woman who was ‘the nearest thing to royalty Denver ever had.’ Written with energy and humor.” Rikki Ducornet, author of Netsuke and The Fan Maker’s Inquisition.

“Kristen Iversen has done a fine job of separating fact from fiction in her biography of the flamboyant, unsinkable ‘Molly’ Brown. Iversen’s enthusiasm for her subject is unmistakable . . . [she] breathes life into the story and makes this western heroine live again in our mind’s eye. A must-read for all Titanic buffs as well as anyone interested in life in turn-of-the-century Colorado.” George Behe, author of Titanic: Safety, Speed, and Sacrifice.

 


SHADOW BOXING: ART AND CRAFT IN CREATIVE NONFICTION

Used in graduate and undergraduate classes around the country, Shadow Boxing: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction was the first text to cover all the major subgenres of the growing field of creative nonfiction: Memoir, Personal Essay, Literary Journalism, Nature Writing, Biography, History, and the Nonfiction Novel. This comprehensive text balances model readings with practical exercises to help students develop their own writing styles and experiment with the techniques and subject matter native to each facet of creative nonfiction.

“Iversen presents the first text to elucidate all major subgenres in the growing field of creative nonfiction . . . Iversen’s introductory chapter ‘When Is Nonfiction Not Creative’ is of particular use to those unfamiliar with the burgeoning field. Iversen discusses the difficult distinction between fiction and creative nonfiction in terms of the products of strict imagination and careful research . . . In contemporary sport boxing, shadow boxing refers to the exercise of sparring with an imaginary partner. In Chinese shadow boxing, the boxer spars with his or her own shadow ‘to attain the highest form and expression of the self’ (viii). Iversen’s extended metaphor
applies to the process of sparring with institutions, colleagues, critics, students, and publishers and works well to accommodate the language required to teach and work in a postmodern and postcolonial climate.” Maggie D. Carstarphen, Texas A & M University

“The approach is systematic and useful, and the volume as a whole embodies a refreshing break from the anthologies and ‘guides’ currently in use.” David Lenoir, Western Kentucky University