- Hardcover: 284 pages
- Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1st edition (July 17, 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0446514896
- ISBN-13: 978-0446514897
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,814,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hard Times in Paradise Hardcover – July 17, 1992
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From Publishers Weekly
When antiwar activism impeded David Colfax's university teaching career in the early 1970s, he, his wife, Micki, and their young sons moved from the midwest to Boonville, Calif., to start a new life. On 47 uncleared acres of a roadless mountaintop, without running water, phone service or electricity, they built a house and learned to live off the land. Their engaging story of modern pioneering is made all the more remarkable by the self-sufficiency and resourcefulness of the children (one raised sheep; another built up a successful dairy goat herd) who were educated at home. The eldest made national news when he was admitted to Harvard, where two brothers have also since attended, on full scholarships. Today, the homestead--called Shining Moon Ranch--includes gardens and pastures interspersed among its redwoods and firs, and the senior Colfaxes are respected local activists.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
In this account of their radical lifestyle change, the Colfaxes, authors of Homeschooling for Excellence (Mountain House Pr., 1988), describe how they became homesteaders in California during the early 1970s when their antiwar activism derailed David's academic career plans. Familiar with the rigors of farm life, the Colfaxes had no illusions about country life, and the experiences they recount here are strangely reminiscent of early pioneers: lacking electricity, hauling all water by hand, building a house, being dangerously distant from doctors. Because of their isolation, the Colfaxes began homeschooling their sons and were so successful the boys were snapped up by Ivy League schools. An underlying theme of the book is that there a happy ending is not guaranteed. Successful income sources are often fleeting, and reliance on physical labor is adversely affected by their sons' departures for college and David's developing heart trouble. A well-told tale of what it takes truly to live off the land.
- Cheryl Childress, Roanoke Cty. P.L., Va.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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It is not much of a guide to the process of homeschooling --they did write another book directed to that issue--in large part because so few parents would be willing to live with the privations that provided the Colfax boys so many challenges and opportunities to learn from solving real problems.
While they were inspired by John Holt they could have been inspiration for Gatto.
I disagree with the politics and the long held anger toward former employers for not receiving tenure (and memories of a truly horrible experience of being threatened by others in the political opponents in a former community). However, I thoroughly enjoyed reading their homeschooling story and seeing a well functioning family. I find it interesting to see them live out ideals that seem to be opposite of the values they were "fighting for" in their politically active days. What they lived, and what worked so well for them, is not what they believed politically and what they taught their children (as indicated by their children's activities now during their adult lives).
I find it so interesting to see how there is so much overlapping between conservatives and liberals when it comes to our children and our rights as parents. I guess that is the area where we are all a bit Libertarian!
I appreciate the candor and openness of the Colfax family. I appreciate their dedication to their family, their work ethic, their willingness to buck their liberal counterparts (many liberals are stuck in working within the public schools and thinking bigger and more government is better) and their adventuresome spirit of being willing to unschool before there were other examples to follow.