The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

The Unsettling of America Culture and Agriculture Since its publication by Sierra Club Books in The Unsettling of America has been recognized as a classic of American letters In it Wendell Berry argues that good farming is a cultural developme

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 estranged fSince 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 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 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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The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

  1. Wendell Berry is a conservationist, farmer, essayist, novelist, professor of English and poet He was born August 5, 1934 in Henry County, Kentucky where he now lives on a farm The New York Times has called Berry the prophet of rural America.

173 Reply to “The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture”

  1. maybe you ll find this at a garage sale in a beat up box for twenty five cents you ll pull it from the box rub two dimes and five pennies together you ll read it and research rain barrels you ll sell that book to some used bookstore you might and a thin bookstore employee will set it on a shelf where some manicured hand might find it and bring it back to her loft maybe she ll turn the pages and sigh at her consumption maybe or maybe she wont maybe she ll walk and ride her bicycle to the local m [...]

  2. Every once in a while, a book comes along at the right place and at the right time, and that book has the power to change your life This was that book for me It moved me out of the city and into the country, and inspired me to grow food for people It changed the way I view my relationship to the earth, and my responsibility to it Don t read this book if you want to live comfortably with your current worldview.

  3. This book is the classic that all Wendell Berry readers should read first It goes through his ecological ethic and his belief that morality and ecology are inseparable that our disconnection from the earth and our disconnection from each other are part of the same problem This quote from his essay Think Little is a perfect introduction to his philosophies See msu kikbradl littleml Most of us, for example, not only do not know how to produce the best food in the best way we don t know how to prod [...]

  4. Having spent five years at a land grant institution, I can safely say that everything Mr Berry accuses agricultural education programs of is true, even today All of my ag professors, save one, laughed at the idea of organic and sustainable and would only allow the non regulated trend of all natural a measure of respect, because frankly they make a ton of money off of false advertising.I moved to the city after graduating, and took work on a small organic farm half an hour outside of town While t [...]

  5. I initially read this book very slowly because I wanted to be sure I was understanding and absorbing its messages Then I was distracted by my husband s hospitalization and serious complications following surgery and needed lighter reading material for several weeks Now I ve finally finished and am convinced than ever that Wendell Berry really is a prophet He makes me feel very grateful to be living in Sonoma County, CA, where many local farmers subscribe to the same approach to small scale trad [...]

  6. If we do not live where we work, and when we work, we are wasting our lives, and our work too Wide ranging and thoughtful, The Unsettling of America is Berry at his best With broad strokes, Berry creates a vision of a 20th century America held hostage by agriprofessionals and the atomization of our lived experience Our work and our labor has become separate from ourselves, Berry argues, and placed in the hands of an ever increasing number of specialists Inherently, this is a critique of modern d [...]

  7. Berry s fiction and non fiction have such a fluidity in their values that reading both grants you a fuller picture of what it means to live thoughtfully in Creation The Unsettling of America has some of my favorite Wendell Berry essays in it and was a wonderful and convicting read I closed the book feeling I know about myself as a human and created being I understand the value of hard, worthy work and the gravity and weight given to us in being caretakers of this beautiful earth God has fashio [...]

  8. a little theoretical and abstract at times, and i wish there was a recent edition, but still incredibly and ridiculously relevant to our agricultural issues wendell berry is certainly a prophet of sorts and his writing contains nuggets of wisdom and concepts that don t really exist in modern commentaries about our food system

  9. A challenging critique of the last half century of agricultural policy and the coinciding societal shift away from rural, communal living to urban individualism.

  10. Over the past 5 6 years, Berry s writings have changed me, shaping my worldview than perhaps any other single author s ever have This book continues in that vein, both frustrating and inspiring me I give it 4.5 stars It is a flawed book Full of polemic, often lacking in nuance and charity But it speaks so much truth to power And it speaks so much to me personally, to my family and personal history growing up on a modern, industrial, somewhat large but relatively small family farm that was squee [...]

  11. This book is part rant and part musing on culture and society The rants, while sometimes entertaining, are often tied to then current events although not without relevance to modern debates on food and farming.The musings are much relevant While Barry does not reject technology and growth outright, he does caution strongly against letting them run without restraint Underlying his thoughts are a concern for wholeness and sustainability We are, he thinks, backing ourselves into a corner where the [...]

  12. Have you ever read an obscure book that no one you know has heard of, and felt that it was so good that it should be required reading for every human being That s how I felt about this book.Wendell Berry is a hero for many, including Barbara Kingsolver, who references many of Berry s ideas in her novel Animal Vegetable Miracle I ve been meaning to get into his stuff for quite some time, and when I read this book it resonated with so many things I have believed or thought of, but never articulate [...]

  13. Agribusiness has been destroying our soil fertility, killing beneficial insects like bees , decimating our waterways through eutrophication that kills fish and all aqueous life , and striping the nutritional content from our food you can grow crops on industrial chemicals, but you can t make them nutritious for roughly eighty years As a consequence Americans are unhealthier than any other population in the world along with European nations with the same practices , and life on the planet is at s [...]

  14. A great, although uneven, criticism of the reigning agricultural and cultural mentality in the U.S It s impressive that Berry wrote this than 30 years ago since the argument seems just as timely today The first two and last two chapters were the strongest In between, he gets into an abstract discussion on the relationship between our connection to the land, ourselves, and other human beings The vagueness of some of his terminology and expressions in these chapters resulted in my losing interest [...]

  15. Wendell Berry is a prophetic genius and a fantastic writer This is his second book that I have read, following his Bringing it to the Table I was expecting this book to be focused on strictly agricultural and agrarian principles, but in reality, everything that he wrote about worked together and is cycle he got that It all ties in together and runs off of one another I absolutely recommend this book to anyone beginning to question the status quo of agribusiness and our food economy here in the [...]

  16. A funny thing happened with this book, I read it last year before the election and felt it was beautifully written but sort of idealistic and naive Then after the election, I reread it, and my mind was much prepared for it It is truly a masterpiece of American literature and letters I think if you want to understand how things have gotten to how they are, politically, culturally and economically, or even if you want to understand one of the possible causes of ennui in America today, then this b [...]

  17. I actually didn t finish this one in time to return it to the library, but I really liked the parts I read Berry s writing makes me want to sell our house, move out to the country and become farmers Obviously, Grant wouldn t go for that, but I d like to read of his stuff It s pretty heavy, so you have to sit with it and give it some time to sink in I m looking forward to revisiting it.

  18. An eloquent statement of an alternative view of culture, health, family and, of course, agriculture one that should at least be considered for adoption by every American.

  19. Wanted to like it, but found it boring didn t finish Also found some of the language in it a bit offensive when it is clearly not intended to be so.

  20. I have come to adore this man He s in every sense a beautiful person.This is some of the most important commentary on technology and modernity I have ever read A confluence of thoughts on theology, ecology, technology, economics, politics, sociology, classics, moral philosophy, literature, anthropology, and practical everyday life all coalescing into this beautiful landscape of conviction I think Berry is frequently accused of being a Luddite whatever that means I think that s a mischaracterizat [...]

  21. This book gives the most comprehensive and eye opening account I ve read of the death of the small farmer in America, and the rise of the monopolistic agribusiness that now reigns Berry makes some excellent arguments that today s agriculture, far from being advanced than what came before, is the most wasteful form of agriculture in history In terms of monetary efficiency, that is, purely in business terms, it may be profitable, but in terms of what really matters in life nature, fulfilling wor [...]

  22. Wendell Berry is now one of my heroes If you approach this book with an open mind it will raise questions about modern life that demand to be answered While this book was first published in 1977 it remains highly relevant I believe it is even relevant today The central argument of the book is that industrial agriculture has destroyed the social fabric of America As a student of mitigating environmental damage I was already aware that industrial agriculture is irreversibly eroding the topsoil fr [...]

  23. I told my friend that reading a book by Wendell Berry was like your father sitting you down to have a difficult talk You remember the kind The kind you dreaded because you knew he was going to be right, you knew he was going to tell you things you didn t necessarily want to hear, and you knew you were going to have to change I told my friend this because we re creating a course for next semester on sustainable agriculture and we ll be using this as one of our texts But I told my friend we needed [...]

  24. Thoroughly enjoyed this book Have read a few of Berry s other books, but this is, so far, at least, my favorite He tied together a lot of the issues that are now plaguing us I had to remind myself that he was writing this in the mid 1970s We are still struggling today with the problems of soil loss, agribusiness control of our agriculture, resultant poor overall health of people, etc Berry expresses a deep understanding as to how all of these, while treated as separate, are indeed intimately con [...]

  25. While this was an interesting book I felt that it was a collection of reflections on the food system by a disgruntled observer While he takes steps to not over nostalgize it often feels like the past was is romanticized as is the practice of farming While there are many social problems returning to the land may not be suitable.One phase was concerning as he said the Amish may be the last remaining white culture And for all of the concern of lack of food, and praise of organically, he overlooks t [...]

  26. This book was very impactful for me I read this after reading The Art of the Commonplace, which collects several of the chapters from this book along with a bunch of his other essays I would also highly recommend that book This book is not a collection, but rather was written as a whole concept While written in in the late 1970 s, the problems he is describing and addressing are still prevalent today If you are interested in sustainable living, care of the earth, and promotion of healthy individ [...]

  27. Definitely the most important book I ve ever read As someone who has worked on CSA farms and knows the importance of agriculture, Wendell Berry has further deepened and shifted my views The apocalyptical and hateful state of our world is the result of our disregard and disrespect of the land and other living things.It is a book that reminds me to check my behavior towards other people, other living things, and the earth.If you don t care for using your brain, you ll probably say that it s boring [...]

  28. What a terrific set of observations, and absolutely prescient of what happened since it was written in 1977 Sad to say, but he had it right.If it wasn t for the role of religious themes in some parts and the use of the term The Creation, I d give this 5 stars He definitely had the right idea about connection to land and the role it takes in forming society.

  29. This book is dense which made it a long, slow read Wendell Berry s thoughts on the intersections of culture and agriculture are unique and interesting, but I would recommend reading his newest collection of essays, Our Only World, for a much accessible and timely introduction to his work.

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