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A Carpenter's Life as Told by Houses Hardcover – September 13, 2011


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A Carpenter's Life as Told by Houses + The Very Efficient Carpenter: Basic Framing for Residential Construction (For Pros / By Pros)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Taunton Press (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600854028
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600854026
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #473,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"If the best writers draw from their own experience, Larry Haun is as much a historian and philosopher as he is a 60-year veteran carpenter. Larry's memoir would be equally at home on the bookshelves of home building and architecture enthusiasts as anyone on a spiritual journey." -Brian Pontolilo, Managing Editor, "Fine Homebuilding Magazine"

If you are lucky in your life, you are fortunate to encounter people who are passionate about their lives. Joseph Campbell is quoted as saying; "People always say what we are looking for is a meaning for life...I don't think that's what we're looking for. I think what we're looking for is the experience of being alive." Larry Haun is very alive, and has shared with me his passion for building, his passion for community, and his passion to serve. All of us at Habitat have been blessed by Larry's energy, enthusiasm and commitment to his trade. Bert Green, Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte

(The New York Times)

About the Author

Larry Haun began his building career on the Nebraska prairie, where at 17 he helped to build his first house. In 1950, he began framing in Albuquerque, N.M., and in 1951, he joined his older brother in a Los Angeles building boom that brought about rapid change in tools, materials, and building methods. Later, seeing a need for passing on production-framing techniques, Haun began teaching two nights a week at a community college--and stayed there for 20 years. He retired to Coos Bay, Ore., where he built houses for Habitat for Humanity, wheelchair ramps for poor people, and backpacked in the High Sierras, the Rockies, and the Andes. He is the author of "Habitat For Humanity: How to Build a House, Homebuilding Basics: Carpentry, The Very Efficient Carpenter, " and three companion videos on how to frame a house. Larry also kept a blog, A Carpenter's View: http: //www.finehomebuilding.com/blog/a-carpenters-view, where he wrote until a couple of weeks before his death at age 80 in October, 2011.


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Customer Reviews

Excellent read on probably the most important influence on society today: greed.
welld
This is the best book that I've read in a long time as his descriptive stories left me feeling good and with much to contemplate.
Cherrie Clarke
Larry Haun tells his life story using houses that he has experienced building or watched being built.
Angela C. Crigger

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By S. Winkler on September 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"A Carpenter's Life" is a first-person account of both an evolution of dwellings told with intimate nuances that could only come from someone who lived through the times described and, most importantly, a witnessing of the loss of connection to the basic pulse of life that the speed and rush of modern times, with all its gadgetry and novelty, has so efficiently removed from our experience. And in the telling of the stories, there is healing. Larry's style of writing is basic, simple, and direct--it is not only a pleasure to read but it also connects powerfully with an earthy wisdom that feels welcoming to the soul. The stories contain in them the comforting voice of sanity that is too often missing in the world today, and they are potent. They have the potential to not only change how we see our world, but also how we might live in the world. This book is good medicine and a welcomed input into the stream of our busy lives. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

- Steve W, Portland, OR
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen J. Burke on October 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Read a bit of this book every day and think back about who we are and how we got here.
Read it to your kids. Please read it to them. These are recollections of a truly unique man, a man as common as dirt, a plainsman. As Dylan wrote about Woody Guthrie, "there's not many men done the things that you done". I guess I'm a sucker for these American folk heroes. We are of another time, and maybe another culture, and yet, this is our saga. This is who we are. Larry Haun is who the bleep we are.

Ralph Davis. Tiburon, CA
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Cherrie Clarke on September 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is the first time I've ever written a review and am doing so because of how good this book is. You don't need to be a carpenter to enjoy this read. The stories are well written and fit into everyone's lives through descriptions of life inside and around the dwellings that we make into our homes. The writer has a superb way of using words and in a such a down to earth manner that I felt as if I was visiting an old friend or special family member. The author has a compelling way of sharing life experiences that you easily relate to your own. This is the best book that I've read in a long time as his descriptive stories left me feeling good and with much to contemplate. Reading this was an uplifting breath of fresh air. The author must be sensitive as well as intelligent to be able to put down words that touch your soul when you read them. Thank you for a great book! Cherrie Clarke, Fremont, Nebraska
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan on September 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
While I was growing up I had the honor of being able to say that Larry Haun was my grandfather. This man taught me everything I know about being a man and I can't thank him enough for everything he's done for me. This book was the last thing he gave me before he died. I remember as he was beginning to write it he told me that it was going to be unlike any of the books he's written before. Over time I soon understood what he meant. This book is his life story told through his life work. It's been almost a year since he passed and as I read this book it's as if a little bit of Larry still speaks to me through it. When I saw it here on and read all the positive reviews for it, I couldn't help but smile. In short, all I can say is that I love this book, and I love the man that wrote it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Instructor Too on November 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Larry Haun is an old time carpenter and contractor that has written dozens of articles in various trade magazines through the years and has produced many excellent carpentry videos and books.

A big departure from a standard technical or trade instructional manual, Larry lately wrote a book entitled, "A Carpenter's Life". This is not a book about the methods of construction or building, rather it's a book about the lifestyles and habits of the people who live in different types of houses. The book describes the organic process of living in a unique geographical area and how people adapted to using the materials that the land had to offer for their shelter. Larry then goes further and describes much more including the trials and difficulties associated with the different lifestyles; and he discusses the earlier more primitive technology that our ancestors worked with in order to "make a living".

Part sociologist, part ethnologist, and part master-builder, Larry Haun rolls these many perspectives seamlessly into a story to tell. By his writing and insights the reader discovers that Larry is a decent, hard working man who sees the world through the ethics of the building trade, that of honest hard work and square dealings. There's no need for myth or tall tales in Larry's writing, there are no Paul Bunyon's or Blue Oxes in the story, just plain-living working folks earning their bread and living in different housing styles depending upon chance, and their time and place in history. Larry weaves these stories into an interesting tapestry that's both educational and entertaining with lots of dry humor and local colloquialisms thrown in.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Bazzett on November 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I learned of Larry Haun's A CARPENTER'S LIFE from a piece about it in the Grand Rapids Press. While I would not normally read a book written by a contractor/carpenter, I was completely captivated by Larry's memoir of growing up poor on the cold plains of western Nebraska, his early efforts at making things, and then by his long and illustrious career out west building tract homes and raising a family. He turns it into a kind of history of home building from the 1940s forward, interspersed with tantalizing glimpses into his life, chosen profession and his personal brand of philosophy and environmentalism. I was especially interested in the too-short section about his time in the SeaBees and his tours in Newfoundland and Greenland in the Korean War era. A pacifist at heart, Larry nevertheless enjoyed his noncombatant years with the Navy and being able to use his skills as a carpenter during that time.

At the heart of this memoir, however, is Haun's gently introspective musings about how we've despoiled our planet and equally gentle urging that we do better. Here's an example -

"We are human beings and we know that we deserve more than we can ever get at a big box store, no matter if we go thee with a super-size shopping cart. They just don't sell what we really need. Happiness can't be bought. It is, as they say, 'an inside job'."

Haun is also apologetic for all he didn't know about how he may have contributed to messing up nature, telling of all the toxically treated building materials he quite unknowingly used during his long career as a builder. Indeed, he reckons that hisyears of handling lumber treated with arsenic and copper preservatives contributed to the cancer he first contracted several years ago.
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