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608 of 617 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How to get back to the land...
As a family that has abandoned the city and suburbs for the countryside, the very presence of a book like John Seymour's "The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It" is enough to inspire fits of joy. A perfect companion to works like Hemenway's "Gaia's Garden" and Mollison's "Permaculture: A Designer's Manual," this book is a must for...
Published on November 8, 2003 by Daniel L Edelen

versus
397 of 444 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars There are much better books than this
I was disapointed by this book. The book is written totally from the context of living in England. The author is a very poor communicator, he reminds me of an intellectual trying to explain how to farm with poetry and quotes from his vast knowledge of classic books.

I have been farming now for a few years and have some experience growing my own corn,...
Published on June 15, 2005 by trader Mike


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608 of 617 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How to get back to the land..., November 8, 2003
This review is from: The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It (Hardcover)
As a family that has abandoned the city and suburbs for the countryside, the very presence of a book like John Seymour's "The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It" is enough to inspire fits of joy. A perfect companion to works like Hemenway's "Gaia's Garden" and Mollison's "Permaculture: A Designer's Manual," this book is a must for would-be urbanites fleeing the cities. Covering every topic relevant to self-sufficient, sustainable living and farm life, Seymour's classic provides a great way to start a different life. An update from the venerable mid-Seventies edition of the book, this 2002 release is a fine improvement.
The book has quite a bit going for it:
1. Beautifully made, illustrated and laid-out, this book is meant to last and be used readily and often. Typical Dorling Kindersley quality.
2. An eye-friendly typeface and bright, semi-gloss pages make this easy reading.
3. The shear breadth of the information here is outstanding. Packed into 306 letter-sized pages are the following chapters:
*The Meaning of Self-Sufficiency
*Food from the Garden
*Food from Animals
*Food from the Fields
*Food from the Wild
*In the Dairy
*In the Kitchen
*Brewing & Wine-making
*Energy & Waste
*Crafts & Skills
*Things You Need to Know
4. Good specifics on all the categories of info listed above. You should be able to get started on your way to being people of the soil. Need to know how to kill, gut, and prepare your cattle? It's in here. Got a hankering to get off the electrical grid altogether? Helpful windmill buying advice is here. Can't tell rye from barley? You will after reading this book.
5. A helpful list of contacts and companies that can get you started on your dream are included.
But there are issues amid all this helpful advice:
1. The book makes some references to US-specific qualifiers on info, but it is quintessentially British. Some of the very helpful info simply does not apply to American would-be farmers.
2. There's a lot of the "green" credo here. Some of it is a bit condescending to anyone who doesn't share the author's opinions of life outside the farm. How well the reader handles this is up to the reader.
3. While the book is certainly comprehensive, considering how complex a shift from urban to rural living can be, it could have gone even deeper. (I know that I still had questions.) The book probably could have been twice its length and would still be a bargain.
4. Much of the advice here comes from a lone methodology for approaching self-sufficiency. Despite the update, there are some more cutting edge permaculture methods that can be more satisfying than what we find in Seymour's book.
All in all, despite the cons, this is a fine primer on self-sufficiency. Anyone looking to escape the rat race could hardly do better than to pick up a copy of "The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It."
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269 of 273 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Duplication, October 16, 2005
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This review is from: The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It (Hardcover)
The book is very good. The information is extremely usefull. All potential customers shoud however know that "The Sel-Sufficient Life, and How To Live It" is identical to the book"The New complete book of Self Sufficiency" by the same author. While I would highly recomend this book do not order both books. Except for a few words changed in the intro and the preface the books are the same, page for page and chapter for chapter.
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183 of 186 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific; virtually all-encompassing, August 8, 2003
By 
Coolwetplace "reader4031" (Madison, Wisconsin United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It (Hardcover)
This is a great book with great illustrations ... Simple yet detailled, practical yet principled. John Seymour has got a great good grasp of the ecological principles that SHOULD inform gardening and farming (what comes out must go back in).
In his other writings, Jonathan Seymour has a streak of anti-urbanism that I don't like--I don't share his view that cities are unnatural, diseased places. But he seems to have overcome it here with a description of urban gardens, limited-scale self-sufficiency and the like. This book lets you pick and choose; if you want to grow wheat on five acres, harrow, harvest, thresh and grind it yourself, that's fine. On the other hand, if you live on a half-acre lot and just want to set up a backyard garden, a compost pile and maybe a beehive, this book will also show you how.
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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A definite buy!, April 8, 2006
By 
J. Martini (Mt. Pleasant, PA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It (Hardcover)
This is a wonderful book that teaches you everything you want to know about living the self-sufficient life (hence, the name of the book). I am a retired Navy guy and settled down for some country living with my wife and two boys and this book just opened up my eyes to how much I truly don't know about living on a farm. I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to get back to basics. Word of warning when thinking about buying more of John Seymour's books, two of his titles are exactly the same on the inside, only the covers are different. Why he did that, I do not know. The books are "The NEW complete book of SELF-SUFFICIENCY" (The classic guide for realists and dreamers) and the other is "Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It" (The Complete Back-to-Basics Guide) These are the exact same books, don't waste your money on both like I did! Happy Reading!
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397 of 444 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars There are much better books than this, June 15, 2005
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It (Hardcover)
I was disapointed by this book. The book is written totally from the context of living in England. The author is a very poor communicator, he reminds me of an intellectual trying to explain how to farm with poetry and quotes from his vast knowledge of classic books.

I have been farming now for a few years and have some experience growing my own corn, vegatables etc.. I also raise catttle and horses. (I am also a licensed Vet in Texas) This author does not know what he is talking about on alot of animal husbandry issues and I see alot of ridiculous nonsense in his teachings of growing crops vegetables etc..

To make a long story short, if you live in the U.S. don't buy this book, it is really awful. There is a far better book...."The encyclopedia of country living" by Carla Emery
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a fantastic guide!, January 23, 2006
This review is from: The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It (Hardcover)
No book can be all things to all people, but this one is pretty darn close. I've been a homesteader off and on for 25 years, and I've bought a lot of books, but this one is the best I've found.

Lavishly illustrated in full color, this DK book includes plenty of information for the beginner as well as the more experienced back-to-the-lander. My husband and I especially love the 1-Acre Plan and 5-Acre Plan, well illustrated with how the land should be divided up for maximum fertility and efficiency. We really like the instructions for sheep shearing which are half the work of what the Storey Guide tells you to attempt! We also enjoy the author's sense of humor and sense of what's important (and rejection of what's overemphasized in modern society). There is so much information in here that there's no way to absorb it in one sitting -- it's an extremely interesting and well-illustrated encyclopedia of self-sufficient living and an essential addition to your homestead library.

The only negatives are that it's written from a British perspective (some of the circumstances and animals are different here in the US) and that it isn't truly a 100% complete guide for all homesteaders wanting all information about everything related to rural living. But as I said before, what book can be? This one comes very, very close, and before long you'll find that it's becoming dog-eared and marked, smudged with garden soil, splashed with recipe ingredients, and worn in very nicely like a comfortable pair of practical shoes.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Self Sufficient Life and How to Live It by Seymour, October 1, 2003
This review is from: The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It (Hardcover)
This is an excellent purchase if your intention is to live
on a farm and survive off the land. The author defines self-
sufficiency and then goes about presenting hundreds of examples
of how to perform every kind of survival task. There is a
section on how to tie knots. The work describes brewing,
power generation from H2 O , as well as the wind. An entire
section describes soil types; such as, heavy clay, loam,
sand, peat and sowing seeds in late spring. This work is perfect
for the city person who knows nothing about basic survival
in the country or the wilderness. The author teaches virtually
every basic skill applicable to living outdoors. The book
is a worthy addition to any personal library.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eons Beyond my expectations! This is just what we needed to start!, November 16, 2005
This review is from: The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It (Hardcover)
I am sure it is not the quentisential guide to all details pretaining to self sufficiency but in my humble city born and raised opinion, this is the perfect intro to all things self sufficient! This will get you started on everything, and from there read up on each subject individually by their own specialists. I think this is wize anyway since not one person can literally posses the knowledge on everything..or at least in a way that will go in to depth on problems! The book starts out with diagrams of several possible farm solutions, the city farm, the comunity farm, the 1 acre farm and the 5 acre farm. We just purchased a house with 6 acres and this is just what we needed to make the daunting task of turning a blank peice of land into our dreams! I hope you all will get as much from this book as I have in the 2 hours I just spent browsing it! I know that when I really dig into this book I will find it a valuable resource! Yeah for self sufficency!!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great place to start your journey toward self-sufficiency..., August 24, 2005
This review is from: The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It (Hardcover)
If you can't get your hands on Country Life by Paul Heiney, this is your next best bet. Nicely illustrated and covers all elements of what it takes to become reliant upon yourself and your land. This book would prove useful to anyone interested in any component of self-sufficiency from a small garden patch to a working farm.
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41 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Self-Dufficient Life and How To Live It, September 20, 2003
By 
Paul Burton (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It (Hardcover)
I came across this book in the library. Great pictures. Author John Seymour did his homework, he must have read "The Blank Slate" by Steven Pinker - lots of those great calendar pictures that humans universally love. Farmland and field, birdie and squirrel, makes you feel good; all warm and fuzzy inside.
Mr. Seymour is far too politicaly correct for my taste. He seems to enjoy lecturing us on how wonderful his self-sufficient life is and how deficient a life we city-dwellers lead.
This book will teach you how to kill and gut your chicken, and if you can handle that, read on to learn how to kill and dress your lamb. It is much easier learning how to make your own soap - that is far easier, did you know, than coming across that bottle of maple syrup. (That's one unintended message that comes across in this book: Thank God for the modern city-life and the supermarket).
There is information on Dyeing and Weaving, Curing and Tanning, Making Bricks and Tiles. There is information on 101 things we take for granted in our everday city-world. It is thus my kind of book, and the book for every Renaissance man and woman.
Seymour's work is a signature type; a bible that belongs in every home. It is pleasing to page through, and informative in a way that connects us to the majesty of life. As a practical matter, this would be the book to have when the lights go out and civilization needs to reinvent maple syrup.
It is a dreamers book, and a book for those interested in how their ancestor lived. Finally, this is a book we who take much for granted, for the P.C. lecture that takes is the one showing how truly dependent modern-man has become.
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The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It
The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It by John Seymour (Hardcover - March 17, 2003)
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