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The Way of Ignorance: And Other Essaysby Wendell Berry
Synopses & Reviews
In a democratic commonwealth, what are the costs and consequences of rugged individualism?
What, in the fullest sense, is involved in our National Security?
When considering Weapons of Mass Destruction, does our inventory include soil loss, climate change, and ground water poisoning? And should we add Economic Weapons of Mass Destruction to our list of targets?
Whose freedom are we considering when we speak of the "free market" or "free enterprise"?
What is the price of ownership without affection?
These and several other questions lie at the heart of Wendell Berry's latest collection of essays, writing "motivated by fear of our violence to one another and to the world, and my hope that we might do better." Setting aside abstraction in favor of clarity, coherence, and passion, this new book provides a setting of immediate danger and profound hope. The core of this collection — "Imagination in Place," "The Way of Ignorance," "Quantity and Form," "The Purpose of a Coherent Community," "Compromise, Hell!" — consists of some of the finest essays of Wendell Berry's long career, and the whole offers an exhilarating sense of purpose and a clear call to action.
"Called 'the prophet of rural America' by the New York Times, Berry has spent the last 40 of his 71 years simultaneously farming a hillside in Kentucky and issuing a stream of poems, novels and essays (including The Gift of Good Land and The Long-Legged House) that are probably the most sustained contemporary articulation of America's agrarian, Jeffersonian ideal. If the tone of the book's mostly brief 19 essays is sometimes angry and despairing ('We are destroying our country,' begins one essay), one can hardly blame Berry. The mere title of one of the essays, 'Some Notes for the Kerry Campaign, If Wanted,' brings the reader up short — memories of the last presidential campaign are receding so quickly into the past that Berry's amorphous call for a return to 'our traditional principles of politics and religion' is both quixotic and sad, a remnant from a vanished era. Many of the essays are taken from talks given to such organizations as the Crop Science Society of America and the Land Institute, and an air of preaching to the converted hangs over the book. The collection is not without its qualities, chief among them Berry's always well-honed prose, but if the agenda he proposes is to ever reclaim its rightful place in the body politic, it will have to be reframed in much more forceful and contemporary terms." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Setting aside abstraction in favor of clarity, coherence, and passion, this new book provides a setting of immediate danger and profound hope. The core of this collection offers an exhilarating sense of purpose and a clear call to action.
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