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Agriculture and Literature
on November 3, 2002
I read this book years ago. Haunting. Who would have thought that a book about agriculture in America could qualify as literature. What Berry says in this book should wake you up (it woke me up, and that is enough to expect from a non-fiction work). But it is not just the facts that make this book. The writing is extraordinary. It is well researched. The ideas are presented in a very sober and direct manner. And at the same time, it is no dispassionate account. That is what was so striking to me on first reading. It is written as if the author were trying to restrain himself, holding back. And by doing so, it creates a sort of tension -- between the lines -- that you can feel from cover to cover. I don't think that I have ever read another book since that oozed so much of anger without ever stating the anger outright. Because of this book, I've gone on to read most of Berry's work as it has appeared, and I would recommend it all. But start with this one. It breathes fire.