Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Feb 1, 2005 - Nature - 240 pages
3 Reviews

In this provocative, wide-ranging book, Against the Grain, Richard Manning offers a dramatically revisionist view of recent human evolution, beginning with the vast increase in brain size that set us apart from our primate relatives and brought an accompanying increase in our need for nourishment. For 290,000 years, we managed to meet that need as hunter-gatherers, a state in which Manning believes we were at our most human: at our smartest, strongest, most sensually alive. But our reliance on food made a secure supply deeply attractive, and eventually we embarked upon the agricultural experiment that has been the history of our past 10,000 years.

The evolutionary road is littered with failed experiments, however, and Manning suggests that agriculture as we have practiced it runs against both our grain and nature's. Drawing on the work of anthropologists, biologists, archaeologists, and philosophers, along with his own travels, he argues that not only our ecological ills-overpopulation, erosion, pollution-but our social and emotional malaise are rooted in the devil's bargain we made in our not-so-distant past. And he offers personal, achievable ways we might re-contour the path we have taken to resurrect what is most sustainable and sustaining in our own nature and the planet's.

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User Review  - Louise_Waugh - LibraryThing

though provoking rant about how maize and wheat are really running the world for their own benefit, and we are just their pawns. Corn syruo bad, heirloom veggies (and sex, and venison, and vintage ... Read full review

Against the grain: how agriculture has hijacked civilization

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Manning is a Montana-based writer whose books (e.g., Inside Passage; Food's Frontier) frequently focus on environmental themes. His latest takes a sweeping, critical look at agriculture's social ... Read full review

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About the author (2005)

Richard Manning is the author of Last Stand, A Good House, Grassland, One Round River, and Food's Frontier. He lives in Montana.

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