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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Diverse, easy to read and easy to like.
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...
Published on June 15, 2000 by Joseph J Hecksel

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Emphasis on "Agricultural"
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...
Published on January 11, 2007 by Scot F. Martin


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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Diverse, easy to read and easy to like., June 15, 2000
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... (on) steep, rocky, and otherwise 'marginal' land." "What seemed so alluring and charmed then, and seems so hard to recover now, is a live sense of contrasting scales. The scale of that landscape is immense....This way of farming that has obviously had to proceed by small considerations. It has had to consider dirt by the handful. Every seed and stem and stone has been subjected to the consideration of touch - picked up, weighed in the hand, and laid down."
(In the Sonoran Desert) "In response to their meager (arable) land, the Papago developed a culture that was one of the grand human achievements. It was intricately respectful of the means of life, surpassingly careful of all the possibilities of survival."
(In the Mid-West) "A bad solution is bad, then, because it acts destructively upon the larger patterns in which it is contained."
(At home) "One of the ideas most ruinous to the small farm has been that the farmer "could not afford" to produce his own food....What is your time worth? Though often asked, I do not think this question is answerable. It is the same as asking what your life is worth."
(On children) "...parenthood is not an exact science, but a vexed privilege and a blessed trial, absolutely necessary and not altogether possible."
(In West Virginia from the seat of a bulldozer) "...it is virtually impossible to see what you're doing..... He (the person being interviewed) still seems a little awed to think that so large a machine has to be run so much by guess." And that is a fine metaphor for life.
Consider buying this book if this kind of writing appeals to you. Otherwise, save your money.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essays from a social and cultural prophet, December 5, 1997
By 
mlaug@kdsi.net (Rose Hill , Iowa) - See all my reviews
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, Berry is like a prophet., July 3, 1999
By A Customer
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Essays that make you think, March 3, 2006
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
3.0 out of 5 stars Emphasis on "Agricultural", January 11, 2007
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The way things ought to be., March 19, 2014
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This review is from: The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural (Paperback)
Entertaining and thought provoking essays on sustainable agriculture and living close to the land. The life that was so common in our country until after WWII. Very worthwhile read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites, February 11, 2014
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This review is from: The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural (Paperback)
I love Wendell Berry. This is a book I have on my shelf and have purchased several as gifts for others.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A voice of reason, October 20, 2013
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This review is from: The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural (Paperback)
I just became acquainted with Wendell Berry's work recently and have only read a couple of his books. His is a sane voice in an insane world. He is a man I would love to meet and talk with.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful thought provoking collection of essays, January 17, 2006
By 
The Gift of Good Land is a wonderful thought provoking collection of essays about ancient and modern small scale agriculture and the ecological advantages of diversified small scale farming over the large scale industrial monoculture that prevails in the present day.
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The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural
The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural by Wendell Berry (Paperback - May 1, 2009)
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