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Harvest Son: Planting Roots in Amercian Soil Hardcover – October, 1998


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 302 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (October 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393046737
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393046731
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,904,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Masumoto's Epitaph for a Peach described his love affair with a fragile, imperfect variety of peach. Here, he continues his meditation on the farm that has been in his family for three generations, reflecting on and celebrating his Japanese-American heritage as he prunes vines, digs hardpan, clears itchy grass and picks grapes. He skillfully writes on the practicalities of Thompson grapes becoming raisins and of those same divine Sun Crest peaches that never made it to market. In doing so, he reveals his sadness at never having known his grandfathers and his frustrating quest to hone the skills he needs to continue the farm. From his fertile, if sometimes inconstant, farm, he travels to the arid desert of Arizona's Gila River Relocation Center, where his family, like thousands of other Japanese Americans, were interned during WWII. Almost nothing of the camp remains but a pile of broken, thick white dishes. "I brought them back to show my parents... Dad grabbed the platter between a firm thumb and curled fingers and held it up as if to receive a helping of mash or a spoonful of beans. They exchanged a subtle grin that quickly disappeared when Dad shook his head and set down the fragment." In this evocative and lyrical pleasure, metaphors of sowing, cultivating and reaping conjoin to describe the deepest roots of sustenance and nurturing found in families. Here, Masumoto writes with a keen sense of indebtedness and gratitude to the many individuals who make up the entity he calls his family.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In this autobiographical sequel to Epitaph for a Peach (LJ 4/1/95), Masumoto describes his life growing up in a Japanese American farm family in California's Central Valley. He relates his life on the farm as a boy and his ideas about running the 80-acre spread after he took over from his father. Masumoto's experiences pruning grape vines, drying raisins, and tending the peach crop, as well as his thoughts on tractor driving, battling hardpan soils, accumulating junk, the joys of sweating, the pleasures of hard work, and other tidbits of farm life are recounted in vivid detail. He devotes a large portion of his book to discussing his Japanese heritage, including the effect of the World War II internment of Japanese Americans on his family and friends. Masumoto's account of his visit to Japan in an attempt to learn the Japanese language and find his remaining relatives is heartwarming and witty. He writes with an appealing serenity and gentle manner. Highly recommended.
-?Irwin Weintraub, Rutgers Univ. Lib., New Brunswick,
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
After reading EPITAPH FOR A PEACH, I hungrily hunted down HARVEST SON. This is nature writing at it's finest! At once a touching and poetic account of family life on an organic peach farm and vineyard. The reader is likely to run the gamut of emotions as Masumoto describes losing a crop of peaches to a damaging and wicked storm, makes a pilgrimmage to Japan to learn of his family's history and culture, or has a blast while fertilizing young peach trees "by hand" - his wife and son riding with him on the back of a wagon throwing organic fertilizer at the trees with old coffee cans. His 10 year old daughter jerks them along as she learns to drive the tractor. HARVEST SON is a warm, funny and insightful book that will not disappoint!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By BT River on April 17, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Harvest Son is a fantastic memoir. While Dandelion in the Crack (retitled Kiyo's Story: A Japanese-American Family's Quest for the American Dream) recounts the Nisei (second generation Japanese Americans) experience, Mas Masumoto tells the story of his Sansei (third generation) experiences growing up in the Central Valley. Unlike most Sansei, Mas returned to the family farm after going to college and grad school. Although some his experiences are uniquely Japanese American, there are many parallels to the changing fortunes of family farmers throughout the Central Valley.

It is a must read book for those interested in the Japanese American experience and those that lament the rise of new varieties of peaches will not bruise after bouncing on concrete. If you are a refugee from a family farm, like me, you may find scenes in the book that mirror your experiences.

Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm is next on my reading list.

Vignettes from the book (stop reading here if you want it to be a surprise): There is also the story of his sojourn to Japan to learn of his ancestors he never knew. A journey into the countryside to visit relatives leads to Mas working and living on a Japanese family farm. Back in California, he works the land, decides to farm organically and to continue farming an "heirloom" variety of peach. Mas anguishes over a late season storm that destroys a year's labor. He worries about how to preserve the Japanese American heritage of his community as fewer young Japanese Americans remain. And, finally, there is the story of his grandfather that closes the circle.
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Format: Hardcover
This lets the reader continue the journey of David Mas Masumoto's life of trials and peace on his family peach farm.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Still physically healing from his last encounter with the Bringer of Curses, the evil Raven, New Mexico private investigator Sonny Baca is confined to a wheelchair. Sonny begins to suffer from weird dreams. The first dreams stars his late sixteenth century ancestor, Owl Woman, who is abducted by his enemy Raven. The malevolent one has learned how to enter Sonny's dreams. Raven's plan is diabolically simple. He plans to eradicate one by one every one of Sonny's antecedents until none remains, leaving his only righteous foe to vanish since he will never have been born.
Sonny turns to his mentor to teach and guide him on how to combat Raven on the dream plane. However, the fight with his foe is also taking place in the mundane physical world as Raven has kidnapped several girls. Not fully recovered from their last bitter battle and with limited experience on that other plane, Sonny's chances of thwarting evil again echoes nevermore.
The great Rudolfo Anaya (see BLESS ME, ULTIMA) returns with his most endearing yet weirdest character, Sonny Baca (see RIO GRANDE FALL). The fast-paced story line of SHAMAN WINTER is fascinating and absolutely eerie as the master paints a vivid picture of the spirituality of another culture. Sonny and his support cast, especially the evil Raven (not the wrestler), are a fabulous crew that maintains their freshness even as they renew their battle. Sonny's relatives add a historical touch to the thriller. Anyone who enjoys a brilliant tale that is a bit different needs to try the Baca novels or for that matter any of the works of Mr. Anaya.

Harriet Klausner
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Neil Scott Mcnutt on May 26, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the third book in the series by Anaya involving his heros Sonny Baca and Rita Lopez and their battles with Sonny's opponent Raven. To appreciate this book, you really need to start at the beginning and follow the story through the various phases. The first book "Zia Summer" sets the stage with the principal characters in the context of the New Mexico Pueblo Indian culture. The second book "Rio Grande Fall" takes you through the battles of Sonny and Raven in the context of the multiple layers of culture (Native American, Hispanic and Anglo) in the Rio Grande Valley. You get a wonderful tour of the cultures in each of these books. This third book "Shaman Winter" is the height of the mystical battle and the Pueblo Indian cultures interpretation of dreams. In this book there also is more of a direct message to the Nuevo Mexicano people that your existence is destroyed by those who rob you of your dreams and who rob you of your historical context. "History belongs to those who write it." Certainly this is a powerful message to the Hispanic people who must feel acutely the loss of their heritage in the Anglo culture and the denial of their dreams of a homeland and a peaceful existance. One of the most powerful moments in the book is the depiction of the Long Walk of the Navaho people and the impact on their women. This is conscience-raising but not distracting from the story line. The story is fascinating in the mystical interpretation of dreams. You have to be willing to suspend disbelief and go along for the ride to enjoy this story. If your are able to do so, the journey is a wonderful one, full of twists, and goes off like the finale of a July 4th fireworks display in all the plots and subplots at the dramatic ending. Note that the ending leaves room to look forward to another book in the series.
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More About the Author

A third generation farmer, David Mas Masumoto grows peaches, nectarines, grapes and raisins on an organic 80 acre farm south of Fresno, California. Masumoto is currently a columnist for and The Fresno Bee and a regular contributor to the Sacramento Bee.

He was a Kellogg Foundation Food and Society Policy Fellow from 2006-2008. His writing awards include Commonwealth Club Silver medal, Julia Child Cookbook award, the James Clavell Literacy Award and a finalist in the James Beard Foundation awards. He received the "Award of Distinction" from UC Davis in 2003 and the California Central Valley "Excellence in Business" Award in 2007. He has served as chair of the California Council for the Humanities.

He is currently a board member of the James Irvine Foundation and serves on the Statewide Leadership Council to the Public Policy Institute of California. In 2013 he also joined the National Council on the Arts through an appointment by President Obama.

Masumoto is married to Marcy Masumoto, Ed.d., and they have a daughter, Nikiko, and a son, Korio.

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