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Five Thousand Days Like This One: An American Family History Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0807021071 ISBN-10: 0807021075

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Five Thousand Days Like This One: An American Family History + Clearing Land: Legacies of the American Farm + Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (April 7, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807021075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807021071
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #884,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Brox delicately interweaves the voices of her late father, Henry David Thoreau and immigrant mill workers in the early 20th century in this elegant meditation on life in the Merrimack Valley in Massachussets. After working in textile mills where "cloth dust [fell] constant as high mountain flurries," Brox's Lebanese-born grandparents bought a farm where her father planted apple orchards and to which she returned after his death in 1995. In a series of reflections using family memories as points of departure, she lyrically evokes the time before the Pawtucket Indians died out from European diseases and the days when Thoreau sailed on the Merrimack River, as well as the 1912 Strike for Bread and Roses, when local militias were called in to contain mill workers striking over 16 cents or so in weekly wages (two loaves of bread). Brox's care with historical detail means women are not omitted from her accounts. She writes sensitively of the girls who "waited for marriage" in the mills, making cloth destined to become "worn and bleached and frayed by time and effort until it was patched and threadbare, and at last cut up for quilts or rags or a child's toy, after which it all but disappeared." She wistfully acknowledges that American farms like her family's are now referred to as "agro-entertainment," while former mill buildings house computer industries and synthetic textile trades. This is a clear-eyed and cogent history of farming, immigrant life and one American family written in prose that sparkles like the Merrimack River once did. (Mar.) FYI: Brox was awarded the 1996 L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award and a 1994 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-Pondering the recent death of her father, Brox reflects on her Lebanese and Italian heritage and the people who developed the farm in the Merrimack Valley of New England that she must now manage on her own. Using family reminiscences, archival materials, and quotations from Thoreau, she details the story of the stalwart men and women who formed the working communities of mill towns like Lowell and Lawrence-immigrants who struggled, slaved, and dreamed of a better life. Saving their meager wages, the lucky ones who survived the horrors of the mill purchased farms and then toiled to make the land flourish with dairy farms and orchards. The bitter labor strikes and the influenza epidemic of 1918 became part of the fabric of the valley's history. As more and more land was devoured by the so-called progress of development, Brox's father clung to his farm and rejoiced in his apple orchards. The author remembers fondly the family reunion at which her aged grandfather who had purchased the land toasted the family with "five thousand days like this one." She recounts her family history with nostalgia for the lost beauty of the land but this is no lament. Her writing evokes a love for the past coupled with the hope of saving part of the heritage that shaped the valley and its people. Her story has universal appeal because of the many voices the author calls up to enrich her memoir.
Mary T. Gerrity, Queen Anne School, Upper Marlboro, MD
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

JANE BROX is the author of Clearing Land, Five Thousand Days Like This One, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Here and Nowhere Else, which received the L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award. She lives in Maine.

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By M. Desoer VINE VOICE on July 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I vascillated between really loving parts of this book, and being annoyed at others. The book discusses the history of the Merrimack Valley in northeastern Massachusetts, weaving in stories about the author's parents' lives there as immigrants from Italy and Lebanon. It also compares descriptions of the area written by Thoreau, and others, in the 19th century.
While most of it was fascinating, some aspects of the book bothered me. First, as the book progresses, it becomes evident that it is a collection of prior essays; some portions are repetitive, almost down to the exact language. Second, I felt that the author was trying too hard to be "lyrical." Some of the writing seemed "forced," convoluted, and grammatically awkward, to the point that I had to reread sentences to figure out what she wanted to say.
Despite these criticisms, it is an interesting read about an area that has changed so much over the last 150 years.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 23, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Jane Brox's second book is masterful: a cross between social history and memoir, a book that is devastatingly clear about the future of the family farm and yet without a trace of rancor. Even if, like me, you're a city person, you should READ THIS BOOK for its pervasive, gentle wisdom; for its stunning prose; for everything a book should offer to its reader--access to a beloved world.
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