The Dreamer and the Doctor

Jack’s latest effort, The Dreamer and the Doctor, will be released on October 23 from Sasquatch Books. It traces the unlikely saga of John and Carrie Leiberg through the Inland Northwest and around the world.

“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. Part history, part adventure tale, part love story, part futuristic foreshadowing, this book fascinated me from beginning to end with its eloquence, urgency, and quiet intensity.”

– Kim Barnes, Author of In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country

“Jack Nisbet’s The Dreamer and the Doctor is a textured, insightful history of the waning frontier days of the American West that reads like a novel. The featured couple, a female doctor and an obsessed botanist, provide an unusual lens to a time that is both familiar and antique, a time when science and medicine were rapidly evolving but were still intensely personal. Entwined in the narrative are the roots of the battle for Western public lands, the impact of federal science, and a growing awareness of the impact of forest fires.”
– Kirk Johnson, Sant Director, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History

“Jack Nisbit ought to be declared a regional treasure. Over the past twenty years, his interest in the natural history of the inland Pacific Northwest has produced series of highly readable biographies, of early explorers that have enriched our understanding of the natural and cultural history of the region. This latest book, a double biography of the botanist John Leiberg and his physician wife, Carrie Leiberg, shows Nisbit’s characteristic attention both to people and to the environment. John Leiberg, an energetic, selftaught naturalist and immigrant from Sweden, was a man after Nisbit’s own heart. Carrie Leiberg occupies much less of our attention, aside from several hair-raising accounts of difficult childbirths, until late in the book. 

In 1887, the Leibergs’ homesteaded land that lay on the southern edge of Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho, and that region of northern Idaho remained their home base. John was gone most of the time, however, first prospect ing, and later as a member of federally financed survey and collecting expeditions throughout the inland Northwest. Nisbet’s accounts of these trips from 1893 to 1896 form the heart of the book. Leiberg’s personal combination of pros pecting and botanizing skills, plus his bound less energy, produced voluminous reports that Nisbit distills into engrossing accounts of scientific encounters with the varied ecologies of the region. 

Much of the scientific activity was actually “salvage botany,” documenting rapidly disap pearing plant life. With the completion of the Northern Pacific Railroad in the mid 1880s, ranchers, farmers, miners and others poured into the region, seeking fortunes from the land, inevitably destroying the original ecology in the process. Nowhere was the destruction as acute as in its forests. The result was rapidly evolving federal policy that established National Forests and the U.S. Forest Service, a policy associated today with its best-known exponent, Gifford.”

SUE ARMITAGE Portland, Oregon


Listen now to Jack’s most recent interview in regards to his book “The Dreamer and The Doctor” on Montana Public Radio, Thursday, January 16th.

Listen to Jack’s interview with Brenden Rensink on the Writing Westerward podcast by choosing from the links below:

Listen to Jack’s interview with Stephanie Hammet of the Spokesman-Review.