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Citizenship Papers Paperback – August 18, 2004

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Citizenship Papers + The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry + What Are People For?: Essays
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 189 pages
  • Publisher: Shoemaker & Hoard (August 18, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159376037X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593760373
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,087,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Berry says that these recent essays mostly say again what he has said before. His faithful readers may think he hasn't, however, said any of it better before. So it always seems with Berry, one of English's finest stylists, as perspicuous as T. H. Huxley at his best and as perspicacious as John Ruskin at his. Like Huxley, Berry cares about how life persists; like Ruskin, about how economics and politics impinge upon life. Naturally, then, his constant subject is the fostering of life, especially human life--in a word, agriculture. As Huxley in "On a Piece of Chalk" (1865) shows how a little natural chalk implicates vast evolutionary processes, Berry in "Let the Farm Judge" shows how one facet of agriculture--sound sheep raising--implicates all of it. Like Ruskin, Berry descries more deeply than others the dangers major crises reveal; if Ruskin's "Storm Cloud of the Nineteenth Century" (1884) is the most penetrating critique of industrialism in his day (the storm cloud was air pollution), Berry's pieces on 9/11 and official reaction to it constitute the most powerful response to today's global industrialism. In those essays and throughout, Berry sees America persisting, as it has for a century, to choose industrialism over agrarianism. He hopefully counsels reversing that choice and, so doing, again embracing life and community. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"The time will soon come when we will not be able to remember the horrors of September 11 without remembering also the unquestioning technological and economic optimism that ended on that day." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Kramer on March 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Wendell Berry throughout this book describes the real meaning of citizenship. Not citizenship of a country but citizenship of a place, a community, an ecosystem.
Berry writes that security comes from being self sufficient within that community. The fact that a breakdown in transportation in this country would leave grocery stores bare should give us all pause. How much more sense it would make to know the farms still exist locally to provide the food, to know the farmer through a Community Supported Agriculture arrangement, to not be dependent on food shipped across the country and even across the oceans.
The problem is current and past policies are driving small farmers out of business and local businesses are being driven out by megastores such as Walmart. But Berry points out we can resist being driven along this path and stand up and say no. Join a CSA, shop at the farmer's market, buy organic, support the local shops.
Wendell Berry says it better. "This, of course, is the description of an emergency. It is moreover an emergency of the worst kind:one that cannot be resolved by "emergency measures". It is an emergency that calls for patience, and to be patient in an emergency is a hard requirement. but patience is what we must have if we hope to complete our work.
Obviously, we must use the emergency measures that are available to us, thought there are not many. We must do what we can politically, thought our political power at present is not great. But we must remember that good work cannot have a merely political completion. Our work will not be completed in the world's capitals, but in healthful farms and forest, ecosystems and watersheds, and in coherent communities.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This man is wise and we need to listen to him. Even more, we need to think hard about what actions we can take to address the concerns raised here. For most of us, our actions will necessarily be considered "radical", for most of us have strayed far from living with a consideration for the health of the earth and the local communities we live in. I am frightened at the direction this nation is going and I hope and pray more people pay attention to what Bush and his crew are doing and kick him out next year. But that is only a small part of what needs to happen. Berry consistently gets to the hard roots of many of our modern crises and is always clear-headed and forceful in his analysis. An amazing writer and a master stylist. Read him now. Now is when we most need to hear him.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Josh Goode on July 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
When I first heard about this book I thought it would be a treatise on what it means to be an American citizen. Having now read the book, I can say that my expectation was true to a certain extent, but I think it would be more accurate to say the book is a treatise on what it means to be a citizen (American or not).

Mr. Berry has a marvelous way of getting to the heart of the problem. One of the most fascinating aspects of the book is the unique perspective and solutions he offers in contrast to the tired, oft repeated views you hear or read from the mainstream media and political commentators. It's really wonderful the way he's helped me look at problems from a totally different angle.

I'd also mention that through the whole course of my reading I kept thinking how I wish I could have read this book prior to college. It's an excellent introduction to a wide range of topics and I'd encourage all to read it to help develop their understanding and living out of citizenship.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The friend who loaned me this book said, “When I read this I thought, 'So this is what fresh air feels like.'” That's an excellent way to describe Wendell Berry.

The first three essays (“A Citizen's Response”, “Thoughts in the Presence of Fear”, and “The Failure of War”) focus on the War on Terror which was just starting its overreaches when the book was written. Berry shows the hypocrisy in those who claim the right to restrict any freedom and kill on any shore in order to stop people who...want to restrict freedoms and kill people. These essays alone are worth the price of the book.

But Berry is at his best when speaking on land and farming. Berry loves the land, and works the land, and realizes that unless those who claim to love the land (environmentalists and Christians) and those who work the land (farmers, foresters, and other Christians) can get on the same page, we're all going to lose. “Going to Work” concisely presents the basis of his philosophy on the matter, and “Let the Farm Judge” puts it into action in a specific setting. “Let The Farm Judge” is the best essay on sheep farming I've ever read, and it works as a metaphor for many other contexts. “Stupidity in Concentration” was his best piece on what goes wrong with the current way of doing things. While I liked those three essays the most, there were many others (including “Two Minds”, “The Agrarian Standard”, “Still Standing”, and “Conservationist and Agrarian”) that had their own gems.

This should be a 5-star book, but the essay quality decreased a little as the book went on. The main drag were the negatively written essays.
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