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The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural Paperback – May 1, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1582434841 ISBN-10: 1582434840

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint (May 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582434840
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582434841
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In this collection of essays, continuing the argument begun with The Unsettling of America, Wendell Berry writes of the importance of good farming to a healthy culture. By health he means not the mere absence of disease, but the operation of a balanced, nondestructive way of life; his essays on the Amish people of Pennsylvania and Ohio offer a model. "An economy of waste," Berry writes, "is incompatible with a healthy environment"--an environment that operates in balance, within bounds. Arguing for the primacy of family-based, local economies, and for the exercise of intelligence, reverence, and community values, Berry crafts a prose idyll celebrating the pastoral existence. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"These books [Recollected Essays and The Gift of Good Land] are the kind that you sp months with, hate to give up, and plan to return to soon and often. There is much pure pleasure in them, both in the spare and crafted eloquence of their prose, and in the breadth and depth of their content. They're reference works of the body and soul..." --The Washington Post Book World

"These pieces are angry, urgent, courageous, joyous and reaffirming." --Philadelphia Inquirer
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Very worthwhile read.
Angelyn Smith
The Gift of Good Land focuses on people and cultures that have somehow managed to remain good farmers in spite of economic pressures.
Joseph J Hecksel
I just became acquainted with Wendell Berry's work recently and have only read a couple of his books.
Hitchcock Sly

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Joseph J Hecksel on June 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
The Gift of Good Land is a collection of 24 essays that were originally written for magazines. The original venue means that the essays are quite readable in terms of sentence length and punctuation. These essays cover a wide range of topics.
The glue that holds these essays together is Wendell Berry's love and concern for 'good' farming. To Berry's way of thinking, good farmers mimic natural ecosystems. That is, they cultivate a diversity of crops, both plant and animal. The diversity is not random but rather it is a patchwork quilt that is lovingly matched to the idiosyncrasies of the land. The Gift of Good Land focuses on people and cultures that have somehow managed to remain good farmers in spite of economic pressures. Ironically, many of these cultures exist in brittle climates. Hostile environments kill stupid economics just as quickly as it kills stupid people.
The thing I liked best about The Gift of Good Land is that Wendell Berry genuinely LIKES the people he interviews! He treats them gently, with dignity and respect. Many authors would see Berry's people as "subjects" that are stupidly struggling to maintain the basest existence. Berry sees them as people who are heirs to thousands of years of cultural evolution, living lives that are a heroic testament to human adaptability. I prefer to see through Berry's eyes.
Attached are a few of Berry's observations that I think are particularly acute:
(In Europe)"...'marginal' farms and their farmers are looked upon as vital resources that will be needed in times of crisis, and so policies have been evolved to keep them productive."
(In the Peruvian Andes) "I wanted to see ancient American agriculture that has been carried on continuously for...4500 years...
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By mlaug@kdsi.net on December 5, 1997
Format: Paperback
Rural America's problems are often dwarfed by urban conflicts. Popular media attention is directed toward the larger market, but rural problems are ominously similar, declining incomes, shrinking population bases, abandoned school districts, empty store-fronts, and shattered communities. Berry is the preeminent rural philosopher to carry this message to a larger audience. Using the language of landscape, community, economics, and a good dose of spirituality the author demonstrates that the problems of rural America are the problems of a society that pursues ways to make a living rather than a society that pursues ways to live. Most of these essays are approching twenty years old and the causes and consequences of national and social inattention are just as relevent today as in the late 70's. If you have been looking for sound,sane , perceptive insights on how to live well in the place you are then I highly recommend this book. If you want to think about the future of the nation's food supply, soil resources, water quality, and the social sustainability of modern economics on agriculture then this is a book you will read and return to again and again.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book has powerful insights about our society today. When I read it, I can't help but acknowledge all of Berry's arguments; he is so convincing. I can't do a very good job in summing up his thesis, but basically our "slash-and-burn" petroleum-based industrial economy is killing us--killing us physically, spiritually, and culturally. He advocates a return to small subsistence farming and learning how to better take care of the Earth and of each other. Right now, our hyper-consuming way of life is destroying our children's world.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brian D. Herner on March 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
I am not a farmer, nor do not live in an agricultural landscape. However, the degredation of the rural way of life and the depredations of corporate agriculture on it have long been an interest of mine.

This series of essays goes a long way towards describing how agriculture and rural life in general could be made sustainable. Today's 'modern' agriculture is decidedly not sustainable.

The book suffers a little for the passage of time. Some of the essays that I'm sure were topical in 1979 seem a little dated as far as content is concerned. Berry's lyrical writing rescues them, however.

If you have any interest in the food you eat and how it is produced, you should read this book (then join a Community Supported Agriculture farm).
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Scot F. Martin on January 11, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Writer and farmer Wendell Berry is known for his clarity and wisdom. This collection from 1982 is not a hiccough in that summation. However, this particular book may be slightly less accessible to general readers in that the emphasis is more on the "Agri" than the "Cultural." Though in his mind there is no such silly bifurcation. The first part contains essays about his visits to farms in Peru and the American Southwest, as well as an essay about the native grasses of his home state of Kentucky. From there the topics range from the pleasures and practicalities of using actual horsepower on farms to protesting against a nuclear reactor all the way to the essay from which the book draws its name. That essay alone (a theological study of land stewardship) is worth the price of the book.

All in all, these are excellent essays, but as many of them were drawn from farming journals, may find less of an audience. However, that should not stop anyone, suburbanite nor city dweller, from reading this fine, fine collection. "To see and respect what is there is the first duty of stewardship." --from "The Native Grasses and What They Mean."
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