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The Man Who Fed the World summary

Leon Hesser

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug and His Battle to End World Hunger

4.4 (34 ratings)
21 mins

Brief summary

'The Man Who Fed the World' by Leon Hesser is a biography on Dr. Norman Borlaug, who developed high-yielding wheat strains that saved millions from starvation. The book explores his life's work, impact, and challenges.

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    The Man Who Fed the World
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    Norman Borlaug devoted his head, hands and heart to fighting world hunger.

    The most influential figure of the twentieth century came from very humble beginnings. Norman Borlaug was born in 1914 on the Iowa prairie and was educated in a one-room country schoolhouse.

    Yet as an adult, he championed the fight against world hunger from the 1930s until his death and profoundly changed the way we think about agriculture.

    How did he do this?

    The Nobel Prize committee, which awarded Borlaug the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970, summed it up best.

    “You have made the fight against hunger your lifelong mission, your passionate calling, to which you have devoted your brains, the brains of a first-rate scientist, your hands, the hands of the Iowa farmer, and your open, broad, warm heart.”

    Borlaug’s life goal was to fight world hunger, and he pursued this goal with great zeal and optimism.

    Optimism was a trait he always carried, even when faced with dire news. For example, in the 1960s when it looked like the world was facing hunger conditions on a near-apocalyptic scale, Borlaug saw a way out, even when no one else did.

    Importantly, Borlaug’s optimism was fuelled by his strong belief in human potential.

    Borlaug’s childhood experiences also helped form his passion to end world hunger. The rural environment of Iowa imbued him with a strong impulse to help others in need as well as made him a strong believer in the importance of education and hard work.

    As his family was poor, Borlaug at an early age learned to work hard and help his family with farming duties. His parents also emphasized the importance of a good education, and though he was not the strongest student, his devotion and dedication made him stand out among his peers.

    Borlaug also wrestled in school, and recounted a particularly valuable lesson he learned from his wrestling trainer that he then applied to his later life. He would always fully devote himself to any task; that is, either give your all, or don’t bother trying.

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    What is The Man Who Fed the World about?

    The Man Who Fed the World tells the story of Norman Borlaug, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and his work in fighting world hunger. The past and future of world agriculture and hunger are examined.

    The Man Who Fed the World Review

    The Man Who Fed the World (1997) by Leon Hesser is a captivating book that tells the inspiring story of Norman Borlaug, the man who changed the world with his agricultural advancements. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • Through Borlaug's journey, the book offers a fascinating insight into the challenges faced by those striving to solve global hunger issues.
    • It showcases Borlaug's brilliance, determination, and innovative solutions that helped increase food production and save millions of lives.
    • The book presents a compelling narrative that combines historical context, personal accounts, and scientific explanations, ensuring that it is never dull or boring.

    Best quote from The Man Who Fed the World

    Perfection is a butterfly the academics chase and never catch … We will have to do the best we can with what we have.

    —Leon Hesser
    example alt text

    Who should read The Man Who Fed the World?

    • Anyone curious about how one man saved a billion people from starvation
    • Anyone interested in how agriculture underwent its own “green revolution”

    About the Author

    Leon Hesser is an agricultural economist and former farmer who coordinated the U.S. program to increase food production worldwide.

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    The Man Who Fed the World FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Man Who Fed the World?

    The main message of The Man Who Fed the World is the importance of combating world hunger and finding sustainable solutions.

    How long does it take to read The Man Who Fed the World?

    The reading time for The Man Who Fed the World varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours to read. The Blinkist summary can be read in 15 minutes.

    Is The Man Who Fed the World a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Man Who Fed the World is worth reading for its inspiring story of Norman Borlaug's work in revolutionizing agriculture to combat hunger.

    Who is the author of The Man Who Fed the World?

    The author of The Man Who Fed the World is Leon Hesser.

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