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The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living Paperback – January 3, 1990
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“Helen and Scott Nearing are the great-grandparents of the back-to-the-land movement, having abandoned the city in 1932 for a rural life based on self-reliance, good health, and a minimum of cash. . . . Fascinating, timely, and wholly useful, a mix of the Nearings’ challenging philosophy and expert counsel on practical skills.”
—The Washington Post Book World
"A prophetic account of the creation of a self-sufficient little Walden . . . that has been an underground bible for the city-weary."
"The Nearings are plain daylight, solid prose, sound information."
—The New York Times Book Review
"As close to a Walden for out times as we're likely to see."
From the Publisher
"Helen and Scott Nearing are the great-grandparents of the back-to-the-land movement, having abandoned the city in 1932 for a rural life based on self-reliance, good health, and a minimum of cash...Fascinating, timely, and wholly useful, a mix of the Nearings' challenging philosophy and expert counsel on practical skills."--Washington Post Book World
Top customer reviews
The Nearings did have a few inconsistencies in the writing of these books - a dismissal of milk for non infants, while later discussing getting milk delivered and also being against animal labor, but having two photos of working horses on their farm. They should have offered explanation for those -- perhaps they could have defended them? It seems they were fortunate to never get appendicitis or cancer or whatever, and didn't need medical care. Hardly reason to look down upon doctors, when they could well have gotten seriously ill despite their vegetarian diet and exercise. I raise an organic garden, but still got breast cancer!
Readers should know that the Nearings had some money, and were never at risk of being broke. Few people following their lifestyle would be able to spend the winters lecturing and collecting speakers fees and selling books to supplement their sales of berries or syrup. Nor would most homesteaders have a steady supply of free laborers coming to their home to work in the gardens or build roads, etc. Homesteading without those perks is extremely hard, and takes a lot more than 4 hrs of labor a day.
Living the Good Life has some very useful information on gardening, food storage, and stone construction. The book is a mix of practical advice and the Nearings' philosophy of living, which includes self-reliance, vegetarianism, and socialism or communism. The authors do a good job of outlining their "design for living". A plethora of quotes tends to disrupt the writing.
The Nearings move from New York City to the Vermont hills, but say little of how they learned "the good life". Much of the book was written as though the authors knew better than the Vermont natives from the start. Surely, there were some humbling moments and follies that they experienced, but none are related. A little self-deprecation would have made the Nearings more likeable.
The authors had attempted to establish a commune or socialistic village in Vermont. However, the independent country folk refused to buy into their collective experiments. With only a handful of members, the Nearings made little economic or social progress. With intense scorn regarding the independence of rural America, the Nearings admit failure of their experiment and move off to Maine.
'Continuing the Good Life' abandons the philosophical ranting found in the first book and focuses on practical advice for modern homesteaders. The Nearings even relax some of their own vegetarian beliefs, as evidenced by eating dairy products and occasional eggs. By abandoning much of their preaching, they become more likeable. Although some of their endeavors are amusing, such as building a 1.5 acre pond with pick, shovel, wheelbarrow, and some concrete, we respect them for adhering to their beliefs and having so much energy at such an advanced age.
Most recent customer reviews
Great Advice, and an Amazing Life of Living off the Land!Read more