Kristen Iversen

Kristen Iversen

Kristen Iversen, Author
Born Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.
Occupation Writer, professor
Nationality American
Genre Nonfiction, Memoir, Fiction
Full Body Burden
Cover of first edition (hardcover)
Author Kristen Iversen
Country United States
Language English
Genre Memoir
Publisher Crown Publishing Group
Publication date
June 2012
Media type Print (Hardback)
ISBN 978-0-307-95563-0
Preceded by "Molly Brown: unraveling the myth".

Kristen Iversen is an American writer of nonfiction and fiction, and the author of Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats (2012),[1] Molly Brown: Unraveling the Myth and Shadow Boxing: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction.

Life and Work

Iversen was born in Des Moines, Iowa, and grew up in Arvada, Colorado, near the Rocky Flats nuclear weaponry facility. She received a BA in English from the University of Colorado at Boulder and worked as a travel writer in Europe for several years before returning to the states to earn a Ph.D. in English from the University of Denver.[2]

Iversen has taught at universities around the country, including the MFA programs at San Jose State University and Naropa University. She served as director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Memphis and as editor-in-chief of The Pinch, an award-winning literary journal. During the summers, she has been on the faculty of the MFA Low-Residency Program at the University of New Orleans,[3] held in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and in Edinburgh, Scotland. As of June 2015, Iversen teaches in the Ph.D. program in Creative Writing at the University of Cincinnati.

Iversen is the author of Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats, a book of memoir and investigative journalism that traces her experience of growing up in a small Colorado community near Rocky Flats, a secret nuclear weapons plant once designated as “the most contaminated site in America.” She later worked at the plant herself.[4] Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats won the 2013 Colorado Book Award and the Reading the West Book Award in Nonfiction. It was also chosen one of the Best Books of 2012 by Kirkus Reviews and the American Library Association, and 2012 Best Book about Justice by The Atlantic. The book was a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence. In 2012, an excerpt from Full Body Burden was published in the June 11th edition of The Nation.[5] Many universities have chosen Full Body Burden for their First Year Experience/Common Read programs.

Iversen also authored Molly Brown: Unraveling the Myth is a biography of Margaret Tobin Brown, known to history as “the Unsinkable Molly Brown.” The book won the Colorado Book Award for Biography and the Barbara Sudler Award for Nonfiction and formed the basis for seven television documentaries, including the A&E Biography Molly Brown: An American Legend. Her work has appeared in The New York Times[6] and many other publications. Iversen is also a co-founder of Orphan Press.

Iversen has two sons and lives in Cincinnati.

Full Body Burden Summary

Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats is a 2012 memoir fusing Iversen's personal story of growing up in Cold War America with the history of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Plant near Denver, Colorado, called by the Department of Energy “the most contaminated site in America.” [7]

From 1952 to 1989 there were many fires, leaks, and other mishaps at Rocky Flats. The area became severely contaminated, and little attention was paid to containment and environmental remediation. Carl J. Johnson, director of health between 1973 and 1981, led research into contamination levels and adverse effects on public health, until his employment was terminated. His research results were supported and confirmed by many subsequent studies.[8]

Critical Reception

Critical response was favorable. "Publisher’s Weekly" wrote "In this powerful work of research and personal testimony, Iversen chronicles the story of America’s willfully blinkered relationship to the nuclear weapons industry through the haunting experience of her own family in Colorado . . . conveying tremendous suspense and impressive control of her material."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Kirkus Reviews named Full Body Burden as one of the Best Books of 2012.

The Atlantic named Full Body Burden as one of the Best Books About Justice of 2012.

Full Body Burden in the Media


On the same date, an audiobook edition was published by Random House audio, narrated by Kirsten Potter, with the epilogue read by the author.

Kristen Iversen's Books


See also


  3. "Faculty". Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  4. "Guest Blog: Kristen Iversen". Lofty Ambitions Blog. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  5. 1 2 "The Dirty Secrets of Rocky Flats". Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  6. "Fallout at a Former Nuclear Weapon Plant". Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  7. Gill, Leonard (22 September 2011). "Working It: Spotlight on Creative Nonfiction at the University of Memphis". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
  8. Kristen Iversen, "Nuclear Fallout", New York Times, March 10, 2012.
  11. "Nuclear Family". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  12. "Off The Shelf". Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  13. FM89.3 WYPL. "Book Talk". Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  14. "IF YOU LOVE THIS PLANET :: A Weekly Radio Program with Dr. Helen Caldicott » Blog Archive » Kristen Iversen on the devastating public health impact of the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant near Denver". Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  15. "Fallout at a Former Nuclear Weapon Plant". Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  16. Naomi Wolf. "From Rocky Flats to Fukushima: this nuclear folly". the Guardian. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  17. Kristen, Iversen (2012). Full Body Burden: Growing up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats (Cloth) (First ed.). Crown. p. 432 pp. ISBN 0-307-95563-X.
  18. Kristen, Iversen (2010). Molly Brown: unraveling the myth (Cloth) (10th ed.). Johnson Books. p. 320 pp. ISBN 1-55566-237-4.
  19. Kristen, Iversen (2004). Shadow boxing: art and craft in creative nonfiction (Paper) (Second ed.). Longman. p. 304 pp. ISBN 0-307-95563-X.

External links

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