"Johnny Appleseed ... he's real, right?" asks NPR's Noah Adams. To find out, Adams read Howard Mean's biography of John Chapman, "a smiling man — a vegetarian — who shared the forest with the Indians and bears and cougars, and brought his gift of apples to an expanding new America." Adams says he could have lived without the book's genealogical research, the details of Chapman's devotion to the Church of the New Jerusalem, and the teachings of Swedish philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg. "It was
A retelling of the famous Johnny Appleseed myth; a devastating memoir about the birth of the organic farming movement and its effect on a homesteading family; an attempt to discover the secrets of Little House on the Prarie; and an NPR contributor's struggle with the recession and its aftermath.