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See You in a Hundred Years: Discover One Young Family's Search for a Simpler Life . . . Four Seasons of Living in the Year 1900 Paperback – December 30, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Manhattan freelance writer Ward and his wife, Heather, faced a steep learning curve when they abandoned harried, technology-driven lives for a year not just in the country but in the country as it was a century ago. Their mantra was, If it didn't exist in 1900, we will do without, and they did—no electricity, no telephone, no computer. This breezy account of their stubbornly quixotic odyssey begins in June 2000, with Logan exhausted pumping water from a well, ineptly milking cantankerous goats and confronting his fear of a 2,000-pound Percheron, while Heather coped with the cooking stove's suffocating heat, her fear of snakes and hand-scrubbing two-year-old Luther's cloth diapers. Their garden, planted late, was soon parched by drought and plagued by pests, the most severe of several crises, since it was their winter food. Ward writes candidly about how tempers flared and sexual intimacy vanished in the early months of their adventure, but the stress of a daunting new experience soon settled into the comfort of routine, as the couple canned dozens of quarts of produce once the rains returned and forged friendships with curious, ultimately supportive country neighbors. This lyrical account of keeping the 21st century at bay is more real, and more rewarding, than any survival TV show. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Logan Ward shares his family's brave adventure in this memorable and heartwarming memoir. With fetching candor, he describes his family's escape from the stress of modern living. I found myself completely involved with their experiment. You will find much in this book to think about. It's as valuable as a how-not-to endeavor as it is a how-to inspiration."—Mildred Armstrong Kalish, author of Little Heathens

“A meditation on the value of modern living.” –Birmingham News

“Ward has crafted a thoughtful, sweet-natured book–one to read s-l-o-w-l-y, by candlelight if possible, with a still mind and a settled heart.” –Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder and Americana

“A lively tale, told with admirable honesty.” –Raleigh (NC) News & Observer
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Delta; Reprint edition (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385342683
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385342681
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,634,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
'See You In A Hundred Years'
Engrossing, Entertaining Chronicle of 1900 Rural Living Experiment

By David M. Kinchen

Could you give up your car, electricity and all the conveniences of modern living in order to get back to the basics circa 1900?

Logan and Heather Ward decided in 2000 to do just that, leaving their comfortable home in New York City, where they had lived for about 10 years, buying a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and deciding to try to live as much as possible like a typical farm family in 1900. Logan Ward writes about their experiences in "See You In A Hundred Years" (Delta Trade Paperback, 272 pages, $13.00).

Very few people are going to follow the example of the Ward family -- which included their toddler son Luther -- seeking a simpler life that would remove the urban rat race aspect from their life, but just about everybody will enjoy this book -- and learn many valuable lessons about conservation and consumption in our consumer-driven society.

Reading this book, I was reminded of a 1945 book and 1947 movie, "The Egg and I," starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert as an urban couple buying a chicken farm in rural Washington state. The movie introduced Ma and Pa Kettle, played by Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride, to an eager movie-going audience. About the same time as the Betty MacDonald book and subsequent movie came out, I was growing up on a similar farm in southwest Michigan, probably longing for a more civilized existence that would eliminate the use of an outhouse in snowbelt winters when our septic tank froze up.

When they bought their farm near Swoope, VA, the Wards decided to remove all the modern conveniences that had been added through the generations.
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Format: Hardcover
Logan and Heather Ward and their son Luther moved from New York to Swoope, Virginia in the Spring of 2001. Their plan was to move not only in space but also in time as they began their "1900 Project"--a year in which they would live as if the year were 1900. No car, no electricity, no phone. You get the picture. Except you probably can't really get the picture because the hardships are these days almost unimaginable. This book tells their fascinating story. It's a rewarding (and surprisingly compelling) read of how Heather and Logan rediscover each other and in the process learn so much, far more I'm sure than Ward was able to fit into the book: how they de-snaked the hen house, how Logan learned to drive the wagon hitched to a horse, how they learned to cook on the wood stove, how they learned to can a year's worth of food and store it in the cellar. It must have been an amazing experience for them.

"For two days now, the wind has howled through our little corner of the Valley like a ghost train, snapping maple branches, rattling the tin roof, spooking the animals, whistling through gaps in the house. It hectors us, tugging hair and crowding the mind with sound. I'm in the kitchen when I hear a crash from the wasroom. I rush in to find shards of glass strewn across the floor. The wind has ripped the windwo out of its frame."
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Format: Paperback
There is something about young New York professionals who have some international experience in their backgrounds that makes them think they are capable of anything, anywhere. Perhaps I have run across just one too many of these "I lived in Bolivia one summer and therefore feel capable of x, y, and z, and besides I am also from New York and if I can make it there I can make it anywhere" tales of misadventure and mis-experimentation, but I found this book to be unbearable.

I approached it with eagerness to learn about life in 1900 and how modern people moved between centuries, but about mid-way began to read it from a sense of duty. I wanted to give the Logan family their full year to make their statement about what they did.

This is not a book about 1900 or farm life. It's about a pair of monied fools who decide to inflict themselves upon a rural community for a year and ram their way through what they consider to be an experiment in simple living. Rather than ease into this life, alotting more than a year for the transition, humbly learning the needed skills and shaping their plans as they learned, the Logans buy some animals, a bunch of antique work tools, and jump in. They know so little about community and farm life that they decide to fence off some land and let it go wild. Then they resist killing the resulting thistles, whose seed will spread to every neighbors' land, until it is pointedly made clear to them how much work they will create all the real farmers.

The Logans are able to make it through the year because the locals, whom the author doesn't hesitate to mock, come to the fools' aid with practical advice and lessons on how to do tasks effectively. Without them, the couple would have been back in New York in months, I suspect.
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Format: Paperback
Country Real Estate, #74: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, February 19, 2009

Back to 1900 is not the way back to the land

By Curtis Seltzer

BLUE GRASS, Va.--Every once in a while you read a memoir of folks doing something so colossally pointless that you root for them to succeed. Like a one-legged man of 102 hopping up Mount Everest backward and blindfolded in a flip-flop, holding his breath to avoid breathing oxygen-thin air.
I picked up Logan Ward's See You in a Hundred Years: Four Seasons in Forgotten America last Friday. It turned out to be one of those entertaining clueless-urban-writer-moves-to-farm-and-writes-heartfelt-account-of-finally-mastering-the-rural-skill-of-spitting-into-a-cup.
Ward and his willing wife, Heather, along with their young son, followed that well-written path, but took it one giant step into the vapors. They chose to live poor, as they imagined it was in 1900. No electricity, indoor plumbing, gas engines, computers or phones, with exceptions for emergencies and well-drilling in a drought. They spent a year trying to live "the life of dirt farmers from the era of our great-grandparents."
Why would anyone do this? Ward's answer: He felt stressed by modern urban life, burned out with keeping up and disconnected from the Milky Way.
The Wards hoped to free themselves, as Thoreau tried, from lives of "quiet desperation" and "self-imposed bondage." Nothing wrong with that. They shared Thoreau's interest in "individual simplicity," and, like Thoreau, Ward "posed for himself" to study himself as both artist and model, in E. B. White's words.
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