The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture

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Sierra Club Books, 1996 - Nature - 234 pages
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Since its publication by Sierra Club Books in 1977, The Unsettling of America has been recognized as a classic of American letters. In it, Wendell Berry argues that good farming is a cultural development and spiritual discipline. Today’s agribusiness, however, takes farming out of its cultural context and away from families. As a result, we as a nation are more estranged from the land—from the intimate knowledge, love, and care of it.
Sadly, as Berry notes in his Afterword to this third edition, his arguments and observations are more relevant than ever. We continue to suffer loss of community, the devaluation of human work, and the destruction of nature under an economic system dedicated to the mechanistic pursuit of products and profits. Although “this book has not had the happy fate of being proved wrong,” Berry writes, there are good people working “to make something comely and enduring of our life on this earth.” Wendell Berry is one of those people, writing and working, as ever, with passion, eloquence, and conviction.

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Just so you know, if you are a Junior year high schooler that doesnt have the vocabulary of a 45 year old man who spent 30 years of his life reading(like the author) then you, to put it simply, will not understand jack about this book until you read 2-3 summaries online and then give the book 50 pages worth of time to explain what its trying to tell you. 

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This is the 1st book I read after The Omnivore's Dilemma. Pollan quotes Berry many times throughout his work. I figured it was time to read it straight from the source. Needless to say, it was a very powerful read for myself, and made me seriously sit-down and examine my actions, and the things I support thru ignorance or laziness on my part. What Berry calls for is basically for people to get back to their rural beginnings, and learn that thru good honest work, you can become a better person, neighbor, and vital resource to your community, help heal the land, yourself, principals, culture, and the food we provide to everyone. 



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About the author (1996)

Wendell Berry The prolific poet, novelist, and essayist Wendell Berry is a fifth-generation native of north central Kentucky. Berry taught at Stanford University; traveled to Italy and France on a Guggenheim Fellowship; and taught at New York University and the University of Kentucky, Lexington, before moving to Henry County. Berry owns and operates Lanes Landing Farm, a small, hilly piece of property on the Kentucky River. He embraced full-time farming as a career, using horses and organic methods to tend the land. Harmony with nature in general, and the farming tradition in particular, is a central theme of Berry's diverse work. As a poet, Berry gained popularity within the literary community. Collected Poems, 1957-1982, was particularly well-received. Novels and short stories set in Port William, a fictional town paralleling his real-life home town of Port Royal further established his literary reputation. The Memory of Old Jack, Berry's third novel, received Chicago's Friends of American Writers Award for 1975. Berry reached his broadest audience and attained his greatest popular acclaim through his essays. The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture is a springboard for contemporary environmental concerns. In his life as well as his art, Berry has advocated a responsible, contextual relationship with individuals in a local, agrarian economy.

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