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Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America Paperback – July 27, 2010

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Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America + Preparing for Off-Grid Survival: How to live a self-sufficient, modern-day life + Off On Our Own: Living Off-Grid in Comfortable Independence: One Couple's ""Learn as We Go"" Journey to Self-Reliance
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (July 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143117386
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143117384
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #258,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fed up with "the hyper-consumption of the past thirty years, the pointless acquisitions, the hopeless materialism, and the obsession with celebrity trivia," British journalist and filmmaker Rosen sets out across the U.S. to find the perfect off-the-grid community "beyond the reach of the power cables and water lines that intersect the modern world." His journey brings him into contact with a colorful collection of rebels and outcasts--aging hippies, anarchist kids, a middle-aged couple with an "off-the-grid McMansion" in Colorado--and he sprinkles his tale with the sorts of practical tips likely to appeal to anyone considering a similar adventure: the Clivus Multrum is "the Hummer of composting toilets." What Rosen lacks is a knack for storytelling; he would have done well to step back and let his subjects speak for themselves. Instead, he constantly inserts himself into the frame and insists on passing humorless judgment on nearly everyone he meets (and a fair number of people he doesn™t), and even whole cities are roundly dismissed (Boulder is "the smuggest town in America"). His curmudgeonly asides are off-putting, and it™s disappointing to see the book™s idealism and noble reach devolve into grousing.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Journalist Rosen walks a fine line between documenting the historic and political history of electrical power in the U.S. (“the grid”) and sharing personal anecdotes and interviews with and about those who embrace life off the grid. In spite of the subtitle—Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government and True Independence—Rosen more often reveals individuals struggling for financial support, embracing faded hippie ideals, or trapped in never-ending neighborhood conflicts that are as much about petty brinkmanship as flipping a switch. All of this is very entertaining, but Rosen’s habit of choosing sides through his negative descriptions of some subjects (repeatedly describing one man’s comb-over and comparing another woman to Mr. Toad in the The Wind in the Willows) while blatantly embracing others brings his journalistic objectivity into question. As a collection of oddballs (from extraordinarily wealthy to poverty stricken) this is a diversionary read, but it does not prove the existence of the cohesive movement it alludes to. --Colleen Mondor

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Customer Reviews

There wasn't any information about *how* people lived off the grid.
Some people have negotiated the system so that they are minimally connected to it, but no one has completely left it.
S. Smith-Peter
I really wanted to like this book, but the only value I found was mild humor from the author's smug ramblings.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

111 of 113 people found the following review helpful By WrethaOffGrid on August 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
After reading some of the reviews (professional and otherwise), it's clear that there are some misconceptions about this book. As one of the people interviewed in this book (we are chapter 9), I can say that I'm very happy with what was written there.

What this book isn't, it isn't a "how to" for living off grid, it is not about the technical side of living off the grid, if this is what you are looking for in this book, you will probably be disappointed. There are lots of books on the technical side that will teach you how to live off grid, that's not what you will find between the pages of this book.

What this book is, it's about the people, the different reasons why people are choosing to go off grid, this is the human side of the story. From those who are doing it out of necessity to those choosing to live off grid, from those who are living in relative luxury with all the bells and whistles to those who are doing everything themselves with very little, you will learn about the who and the why of those living off grid.

Yes, Nick does insert his opinions into the book and that's fine, he does have a straightforward writing style, is that a bad thing? I don't think so, when Nick was interviewing us, he dug and dug hard, he didn't accept the first thing we said, he wanted to know more, he is a journalist after all and is used to digging for more information. Some might find his writing style too forward, I found it honest, some might wish the book was more soft soap, if that's what you are looking for, then you probably need to look for another book. If you are looking for an honest, upfront read on the who and the why of people living off the grid, then I would recommend this book for you.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By David R Anderson on August 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is:
-told in the first person as the author travels around America to meet people who are living off-grid lifestyles
-a peek into the psychology and sociology around living off the grid
-a brief background about how the grid developed and the impacts it has on our lives
-a useful sketch of the various archetypes of the people who leave the grid

This book is not:
-a manual for going off the grid
-an impersonal journalistic tome

-it brings out subject material that arguably has no other good way of getting to the public (since its subjects live off the grid...)
-well-written and insightful

-sometimes personal insights which are interesting to the author may not be interesting to some Americans
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68 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Dave on July 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
I picked this book up while browsing a new release section of a bookstore, and I have to say I'm thoroughly underwhelmed. I almost put it back and I wish I had for these three reasons:

1) The research put into writing this is abysmal. The chapters are rife with admissions of how he couldn't get interviews with people he wanted and many of the stories he does tell are based on email conversations. The people he actually meets sound like very interesting subjects, but it became painfully clear that he never spent any significant period of time to flush out more than you could learn over a cup of coffee.

2) Bias. Obviously if you buy this book you're expecting the author to talk about the advantages of alternative living, and he does a good job admitting his opinions on issues up front. I appreciated that part in the first chapters. But it kept coming. It was distracting to hear his voice in every part of the book, offering the story as his personal experiences rather than the stories of the people he was interviewing.

3) There wasn't any information about *how* people lived off the grid. Each chapter talks about different people living off the grid for different reasons, which is a great way to organize the book, but there isn't any discussion about the specifics of living off the grid. I learned that pot growers use solar panels and maybe they were responsible for making them popular in the mainstream. I was hoping to learn some specific information about the day to day challenges and advantages of the people, but it wasn't there. The only time this book is informational is talking about the politics of living off grid - but that wasn't what it advertises! It supposed to delve inside the movement and it doesn't.

I'm certain there has to be better books on the topic, so don't pick this one.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Jassen on July 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
Nick Rosen presents a tour through America, from coast to coast and through the heartland, visiting with various forms of off-grid livers in this country. From wealthy individuals to those of less fortunate circumstances, Nick takes the reader on a grand tour of an America that most Americans probably don't even know exists.

Nick is a very straight-forward writer, and pulls no punches about expressing his opinions regarding the situations of the people he is interviewing. Being one of the individuals chronicled in the book, I of course went straight to the section about myself as soon as I got an advance publisher's copy of the book. While at first I was a bit taken aback by some of Nick's comments, his assessment of my situation and his insight into what he thought I was thinking during our interview was actually right on, and I'm willing to bet the same is true of others that were profiled.

Probably the best part of the book is that it explores the vast number of DIFFERENT approaches to living off the grid. My approach is vastly different from the approach of others, because my approach requires heavy reliance on other types of infrastructure besides electric and water grids, but requires no land. Other approaches require either land or other resources. The book explores numerous different approaches to living off grid.

I think that the reader who is interested in this subject will take away more questions from the book rather than answers. However, that's part of being an educated reader: Finding things one wishes to explore more about. Hopefully, this book will inspire a new wave of Americans to explore off-grid living, and do so in a variety of different ways, which as a whole will move us further away from the reliance on the grid.
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