Synopses & Reviews
Scott Nearing lived one hundred years, from 1883 to 1983—a life spanning most of the twentieth century. In his early years, Nearing made his name as a formidable opponent of child labor and military imperialism. Having been fired from university jobs for his independence of mind, Nearing became a freelance lecturer and writer, traveling widely through Depression-era and post-war America to speak with eager audiences. Five-time Socialist candidate for president Eugene V. Debs said, "Scott Nearing! He is the greatest teacher in the United States."
Concluding that it would be better to be poor in the country than in New York City, Scott and Helen Nearing moved north to Vermont in 1932 and commenced the experiment in self-reliant living that would extend their fame far and wide. They began to grow most of their own food, and devised their famous scheme for allocating the day's hours: one third for "bread work" (livelihood), one third for "head work" (intellectual endeavors), and one third for "service to the world community." Scott (who'd grown up partly on his grandfather's Pennsylvania farm) taught Helen (who was raised in suburbia, groomed for a career as a classical violinist) the practical skills they would need: working with tools, cultivating a garden and managing a woodlot, and building stone and masonry walls.
For the rest of their lives, the Nearings chronicled in detail their "good life," first in Vermont and ultimately on the coast of Maine, in a group of wonderful books—many of which are now being returned to print by Chelsea Green in cooperation with the Good Life Center, an educational trust established at the Nearings' Forest Farm in Harborside, Maine, to promote their ongoing legacy.
With a new foreword by activist historian Staughton Lynd, The Making of a Radical is freshly republished-Scott Nearing's own story, told as only he could tell it.
"Nearing was a rugged individualist and lifelong socialist who profoundly influenced hundreds of thousands of people through his ideas and books . . . If there is a human race still here in a hundred years we'll have to learn two almost contradictory lessons: we'll have to make cities more livable places, and we'll have to show that independent-minded people can live outside cities without having to be rich suburbanites. We may yet be able to save the world before we destroy ourselves, and Scott and Helen Nearing showed us ways to do it."
About the Author
Author or co-author (with his wife Helen Nearing) of more than thirty books and hundreds of essays, Scott Nearing was one of the great social critics and humanitarians of the 20th century. Known throughout the world as the progenitors of the "back to the land" movement, the Nearings combined pragmatism and vision to create a blend now being celebrated by new generations of readers.