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“What a splendid account of a movement that’s usually caricatured. It taught me a lot about my state of Vermont, but also about the political and committed history of back-to-the-landers across American history. Forget your stereotype of the rugged individualist: this story turns out to be a lot more interesting than that!”—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
“A compelling work of extraordinary richness—a singular quilt of Americana concerning those who lived the ever-changing back-to-the-land movement and those who wrote about it as well. Cultural and agricultural history are happily wed here.”—Michael Kammen, Cornell University
“A useful corrective to the idea that the country living movement is strictly an effort to get right with Mother Earth.”—The Wilson Quarterly
“In historian Dona Brown, the back-to-the-land movement has found its supremely elegant and most empathetic chronicler. Brown lifts the movement out of its now obscure classical origin—the late-19th-century US—and foregrounds it in modern American contemporary concerns, such as food security, organic farming, and renewable energy. She does this so deftly that her work at once reads as a scholarly account of Americans’ enduring romance with the countryside as well as a nostalgia-filled, emancipatory anthem to ‘Jefferson bumpkins.’ More importantly, her deeply researched work debunks the simplistic reading of the back-to-the-landers as seekers of hippie nirvana in country life. . . . Summing Up: Essential.” —CHOICE
For many, “going back to the land” brings to mind the 1960s and 1970s—hippie communes and the Summer of Love, The Whole Earth Catalog and Mother Earth News. More recently, the movement has reemerged in a new enthusiasm for locally produced food and more sustainable energy paths. But these latest back-to-the-landers are part of a much larger story. Americans have been dreaming of returning to the land ever since they started to leave it. In Back to the Land, Dona Brown explores the history of this recurring impulse.