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Farmers of Forty Centuries: Organic Farming in China, Korea, and Japan Paperback – March 19, 2004


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Farmers of Forty Centuries: Organic Farming in China, Korea, and Japan + The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming (New York Review Books Classics)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Dover Ed edition (March 19, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486436098
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486436098
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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A wonderful book, despite its having been originally written more than 100 years ago.
EternalSeeker
This is the most amazing book I've read in ages; it more than rekindles your fascination with the ingenuity of mankind.
Allen E. Mccartney
I doubt that Dr. King knew just how very important his work would be, though he was obviously inspiried to write it.
Nancy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 52 people found the following review helpful By EternalSeeker on March 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
A wonderful book, despite its having been originally written more than 100 years ago. Fresh and sobering look at what it takes to make a civilized society run on a daily basis without modern technology, from food production to how to make cotton mattresses by hand, to manufacturing coal based blocks for home heating and cooking - in a backyard; and how to build a k'ang, a raised heated platform used for sitting and sleeping.

'Farmers' also gives an idea of the human cost and effort needed to keep land fertile and productive, conserve scarce resources, and the ingenuity required daily to have a reasonably comfortable, sustainable lifestyle over many hundreds of generations - a workable world one can confidently pass on to one's descendents, something we DON'T have, for all our vaunted "quality of life" in the US.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Iain C. Massey on August 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is one of the influences on Bill Mollison, of Permaculture fame.

It is the record of a fact-finding mission, and describes how East Asia fed itself sustainably for "forty centuries". The original idea was to take home lessons for American farmers, but the agronomy King describes is highly intensive and uses huge inputs of human labour.

As custodian of a bit of rural land, with an abiding interest in sustainable agronomies, I found it a good and interesting read.

The principal take-home lesson for me is that land can be managed for human sustenance, on very long time-scales, without large inputs of external resources, and without the steady degradation suffered by other landscapes.

That's a lesson worth learning, even if we can't apply the detail of the traditional East Asian methods in other times and places.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By E. N. Anderson VINE VOICE on May 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
I was rather surprised when amazon.com suggested I review this product--I would have thought there were hundreds of reviews. There are, as of this writing, only eight before mine.
This book is one of the greatest classics in the field of agricultural studies. It was published by the author's wife just over a century ago, and remained rather obscure till the Rodale organic farming world discovered it.
It is an account of the successes of Japanese and Chinese farming in traditional times. As of 1911, the Japanese and Chinese were the most productive farmers in the world, in terms of quantity of product per acre, diversity of products, sustainability of intensive agriculture, conservation of soil and water in spite of same, and sheer technical knowledge of how to get a great deal of production out of a tiny resource base. They are now less unique, but the old ideas and practices are still useful, and will prove necessary when the world runs out of cheap oil, cheap farmland, cheap water, and other cheap inputs.
King's accounts are surprisingly modern; he was decades ahead of his time in realizing the values of sustainability and low-input agriculture. Not until decades later did writers like Gary Klee (in southeast Asia) and Gene Wilken (in Mexico and Central America) rediscover the fact that traditional practices can be excellent and worthy of maintaining. What is perhaps most amazing today is King's ability to focus on the good practices and their wider benefits, without falling into the cheap racism that marred almost all other accounts of East Asia in those days. Even today, accounts of traditional times in China (and, to a lesser extent, in Japan) tend to be at best patronizing, at worst racist and insulting.
Everybody should read this book--not only to learn how to farm without tractors and oil, but, far more, to learn how to respect other people.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By bamboochik on March 19, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
These Asian farmers were accomplishing something eons ago that the new Permaculture movement is striving for now. Why did things ever change? Big Chemical Demons stepped in and turned things around for a profit and our government has allowed it to grow till we are all poisoned by the air we breathe to the water we drink, to the food we eat. It is time to step back...

When you read the simplistic yet exacting ways that the earliest of farmers in Asian countries grew food and raised their meat/milk animals it is amazing. Everyone worked together to accomplish great things. Hard work was the norm and realized as a necessity to survival. In our day and age, it is just the opposite as man strives to get out of working hard for his "daily bread". Shame! Shame! Shame!

This book is for anyone interested in Permaculture, organic gardening, and sustainable living. After you read it all will make sense and you might just get on the bandwagon and help stop the chemical onslaught we are all exposed to on a daily basis.

Read and learn...
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nancy on October 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
I have lived with the knowledge contained in this book for over 40 years. It is nothing short of Earth shaking, Earth affirming, Earth saving. I doubt that Dr. King knew just how very important his work would be, though he was obviously inspiried to write it.

If you want to learn about ways of working with the Earth that also care for the Earth - as distinct from raping it - then you couldn't do better than to start here. You will find page after page of practical advice and deep wisdom. And your ability to garden and appreciate your natural environment will just get better and better.
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