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The Essential Agrarian Reader: The Future of Culture, Community, and the Landby Norman Wirzba
Synopses & Reviews
A compelling worldview with advocates from around the globe, agrarianism challenges the shortcomings of our industrial and technological economy. Not simply focused on farming, the agrarian outlook encourages us to develop practices and policies that promote the health of land, community, and culture. Agrarianism reminds us that no matter how urban we become, our survival will always be inextricably linked to the precious resources of soil, water, and air. This understanding demands that we become active caregivers of the earth and its life-giving sources.
Combining fresh insights from the disciplines of education, law, history, urban and regional planning, economics, philosophy, religion, ecology, politics, and agriculture, these original essays develop a sophisticated critique of our culture's current relationship to the land, while offering practical alternatives. Leading agrarians, including Wendell Berry, Vandana Shiva, Wes Jackson, Gene Logsdon, Brian Donahue, Eric Freyfogle, and David Orr, explain how our goals should be redirected toward genuinely sustainable communities. These writers lament the shortsightedness of economic and political ambition, and call us to an honest accounting and correction of our often destructive ways. They suggest how our society can take practical steps toward integrating soils, watersheds, forests, wildlife, urban areas, and human populations into one great system — a responsible flourishing of our world and culture. The Essential Agrarian Reader calls us to celebrate the gifts of the earth, a celebration manifested in honest work and respect for the land.
Foreword by Barbara Kingsolver.
"[E]minently quotable and passionately argued....Particularly inspiring in its celebration of existence....[T]he contributors cover a [wide] range of topics, are leaders in their fields, and have lucid, expressive writing styles." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Before I had read this book, I would have hesitated to suggest that one's relationship to the land, to consumption and food, is a religious matter. But it's true; the decision to attend to the health of one's habitat and food chain is a spiritual choice. It's also a political choice, a scientific one, a personal and a convivial one. It's not a choice between living in the country or the town; it is about understanding that every one of us, at the level of our cells and respiration, lives in the country, and is thus obliged to be mindful of the distance between ourselves and our sustenance." Barbara Kingsolver, from the Foreword
"Here is a primer on real 'homeland security' — on preserving the sources of clean air, pure water, nutritious food, caring communities, and good work. In essays charged with logic and passion, these new agrarians show what we must do to assure our own well-being and that of future generations. If you wish to understand what's wrong with our present way of life, and if you wish to envision a more decent, sustainable, and joyful alternative, then read on." Scott Russell Sanders, author of Hunting for Hope
"First-rate essays written by the agrarian A-team, folks who have done some darn deep thinking, good work, and right living. They set forth the limits and dangers of our current mindset, and call us — wherever we are — to a life that acknowledges and honors the land and the people who provide for it." Bill Vitek, co-editor, Rooted in the Land: Essays on Community and Place
"This volume can help us understand that sustainable, viable human and biological communities are possible without the destruction of what we purport to revere." Lexington Herald-Leader
Includes bibliographical references (p. 267-269) and index.
The agrarian outlook encourages readers to develop practices and policies that promote the health of land, community and culture. This collection features essays by leading agrarians.
About the Author
Norman Wirzba, associate professor and chair of the philosophy department at Georgetown College, is the author of The Paradise of God: Renewing Religion in an Ecological Age and editor of The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Why Agrarianism Matters — Even to Urbanites
Part 1: Agrarian Principles and Priorities
Part 2: Assessing Our Situation
Part 3: Putting Agrarianism to Work
What Our Readers Are Saying