An acclaimed novelist, poet, environmentalist, and farmer argues for a deeper connection to the land and community for the sake of America’s future. Since its publication in 1977, The Unsettling of America has been recognized as a classic of American letters. Wendell Berry argues that good farming is a cultural and spiritual discipline. Todays agribusiness, however, takes farming out of its cultural context and away from families. As a result, we as a nation are more estranged from the land—and from the intimate knowledge, love, and care of it. Sadly, as Berry notes in his Afterword, his arguments and observations are more relevant than ever. We continue to suffer loss of community, the devaluation of human work, and the destruction of nature under an economic system dedicated to the mechanistic pursuit of products and profits. Although “this book has not had the happy fate of being proved wrong,” Berry writes, there are good people working “to make something comely and enduring of our life on this earth.” Wendell Berry is one of those people, writing and working, as ever, with passion, eloquence, and conviction. “Wendell Berry is one of those rare individuals who speaks to us always of responsibility, of the individual cultivation of an active and aware participation in the arts of life.” —The Bloomsbury Review “[Berry’s] poems, novels and essays . . . are probably the most sustained contemporary articulation of America’s agrarian, Jeffersonian ideal.” —Publishers Weekly
A critical inquiry into the ways Americans have exploited and continue to exploit the land that sustains them, tracing attitudes toward and methods of farming from the eighteenth century to the present
The essays in The Gift of Good Land are as true today as when they were first published in 1981; the problems addressed here are still with us and the solutions no nearer to hand. One of the insistent themes of this book is the interdependence, the wholeness, the oneness of people, the land, weather, animals, and family. To touch one is to tamper with them all. We live in one functioning organism whose separate parts are artificially isolated by our culture. The twenty-four essays in this collection cover a variety of subjects; the author's journeys to the Peruvian Andes, to the desert of southern Arizona, and to Amish country to study the evolution of ancient native agricultural practices. In Solving for Pattern,” Mr. Berry lists fourteen critical standards for solving agricultural problems that can just as easily be used as standards for solving personal and family problems. In the title essay, the author examines our Judeo-Christian heritage to discover parallels with the Buddhist doctrine of right livelihood” or right occupation.” He develops the compelling argument that the gift” of good land has strings attached. We have it only on loan and only for as long as we practice good stewardship.
This book is broad and leisurely and important. Something like the river itself on which Wendell Berry lives. It is full of wide and flowing thoughts and one thing leads to another in the manner that nature intended or used to. The language ranges from the grave and beautiful to the sharp and specific, depending on the need to express the vast variety of subjects he presents. The Nation The title of this book is taken from an account by Thomas F. Hornbein on his travels in the Himalayas. It seemed to me, Horenbein wrote, that here man lived in continuous harmony with the land, as much as briefly a part of it as all its other occupants. Wendell Berry's second collection of essays, A Continuous Harmony was first published in 1972, and includes the seminal Think Little, which was printed in The Last Whole Earth Catalogue and reprinted around the globe, and the splendid centerpiece, Discipline and Hope, an insightful and articulate essay making a case for what he calls a new middle.
The America many people would like to believe in is convincingly explored in this volume of poems by a writer close to the heart of things. The sanity and eloquence of these poems spring from the land in Kentucky where Wendell Berry was born, married, lives, farms, and writes. From classic pastoral themes both lyrical and reflective, to a verse play, to a dramatic narrative and the manic, entertaining, prescient ravings of Berry's Mad Farmer, these poems show a unity of language and consciousness, skill and sensitivity, that has placed Wendell Berry at the front rank of contemporary American poets.
Only a farmer could delve so deeply into the origins of food, and only a writer of Wendell Berry's caliber could convey it with such conviction and eloquence. Drawn from more than thirty years of work, this collection is essential reading for all who care about what they eat.
Author: Ellen F. Davis
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Release Date: 2008-10-13
This book examines the theology and ethics of land use, especially the practices of modern industrialized agriculture, in light of critical biblical exegesis. Nine interrelated essays explore the biblical writers' pervasive concern for the care of arable land against the background of the geography, social structures, and religious thought of ancient Israel. This approach consistently brings out neglected aspects of texts, both poetry and prose, that are central to Jewish and Christian traditions. Rather than seeking solutions from the past, Davis creates a conversation between ancient texts and contemporary agrarian writers; thus she provides a fresh perspective from which to view the destructive practices and assumptions that now dominate the global food economy. The biblical exegesis is wide-ranging and sophisticated; the language is literate and accessible to a broad audience.
Author: Brandi Janssen
Publisher: University of Iowa Press
Release Date: 2017-04-15
Genre: Business & Economics
Making Local Food Work is an ideal introduction to what local food means today and what it might be tomorrow. By listening to and working alongside people trying to build a local food system in Iowa, Brandi Janssen uncovers the complex realities of making it work. She asks how Iowa's small farmers and CSA owners deal with farmers' market regulations, neighbors who spray pesticides on crops or lawns, and sanitary regulations on meat processing and milk production. How can they meet the needs of large buyers like school districts? Is local food production benefitting rural communities as much as advocates claim? In answering these questions, Janssen displays the pragmatism and level-headedness one would expect of the heartland, much like the farmers and processors profiled here. It's doable, she states, but we're going to have to do more than shop at our local farmers' market to make it happen.
Volume 11 of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture examines the economic culture of the South by pairing two categories that account for the ways many southerners have made their living. In the antebellum period, the wealth of southern whites came largely from agriculture that relied on the forced labor of enslaved blacks. After Reconstruction, the South became attractive to new industries lured by the region's ongoing commitment to low-wage labor and management-friendly economic policies. Throughout the volume, articles reflect the breadth and variety of southern life, paying particular attention to the region's profound economic transformation in recent decades. The agricultural section consists of 25 thematic entries that explore issues such as Native American agricultural practices, plantations, and sustainable agriculture. Thirty-eight shorter pieces cover key crops of the region--from tobacco to Christmas trees--as well as issues of historic and emerging interest--from insects and insecticides to migrant labor. The section on industry and commerce contains 13 thematic entries in which contributors address topics such as the economic impact of military bases, resistance to industrialization, and black business. Thirty-six topical entries explore particular industries, such as textiles, timber, automobiles, and banking, as well as individuals--including Henry W. Grady and Sam M. Walton--whose ideas and enterprises have helped shape the modern South.
Author: Pete Daniel
Publisher: UNC Press Books
Release Date: 2013-03-29
Genre: Social Science
Between 1940 and 1974, the number of African American farmers fell from 681,790 to just 45,594--a drop of 93 percent. In his hard-hitting book, historian Pete Daniel analyzes this decline and chronicles black farmers' fierce struggles to remain on the land in the face of discrimination by bureaucrats in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He exposes the shameful fact that at the very moment civil rights laws promised to end discrimination, hundreds of thousands of black farmers lost their hold on the land as they were denied loans, information, and access to the programs essential to survival in a capital-intensive farm structure. More than a matter of neglect of these farmers and their rights, this "passive nullification" consisted of a blizzard of bureaucratic obfuscation, blatant acts of discrimination and cronyism, violence, and intimidation. Dispossession recovers a lost chapter of the black experience in the American South, presenting a counternarrative to the conventional story of the progress achieved by the civil rights movement.
Author: Jason Peters
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Release Date: 2010
Genre: Biography & Autobiography
A portrait of one of America's most profound and honest thinkers, this book combines biographical sketches, personal accounts, literary criticism, and social commentary to illuminate Berry as he is: a complex man of place and community with a depth of domestic, intellectual, filial, and fraternal attributes.
Author: Eric Miller
Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing
Release Date: 2010-04-16
Genre: Biography & Autobiography
This is the first biography of the best-selling author of The culture of narcissism and other modern American classics. His brand of historically and psychologically informed social criticism was uncommonly prescient and remains surprisingly relevant to our cultural dilemmas. So does his example, as Eric Miller shows in this vivid and engaging book. Lasch's uncompromising independence cast him as Socrates in an age of sophists, and the sweeping range, critical intensity, high seriousness, and rigorous honesty of his writings won him warm admirers, many fierce critics, and a circle of brilliant and devoted students. Miller's biography offers lasch's life as a ringing case for the dignity of the intellectual's calling.
"Here is a human being speaking with calm and sanity out of the wilderness. We would do well to hear him." —The Washington Post Book World The Art of the Commonplace gathers twenty essays by Wendell Berry that offer an agrarian alternative to our dominant urban culture. Grouped around five themes—an agrarian critique of culture, agrarian fundamentals, agrarian economics, agrarian religion, and geobiography—these essays promote a clearly defined and compelling vision important to all people dissatisfied with the stress, anxiety, disease, and destructiveness of contemporary American culture. Why is agriculture becoming culturally irrelevant, and at what cost? What are the forces of social disintegration and how might they be reversed? How might men and women live together in ways that benefit both? And, how does the corporate takeover of social institutions and economic practices contribute to the destruction of human and natural environments? Through his staunch support of local economies, his defense of farming communities, and his call for family integrity, Berry emerges as the champion of responsibilities and priorities that serve the health, vitality and happiness of the whole community of creation.