The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture|
by Wendell Berry (Author)
The mid-20th-century environmental crisis that led to important protective
legislation in the 1970s, is, to poet/farmer Wendell Berry's mind, also a crisis
of character, agriculture, and culture. Because Americans are divorced from the
land, they mistreat it; because they are divorced from each other, they mistreat
those around them. Berry, writing in a prophetic mode, argues that if Americans
are to heal the environmental wounds their land has suffered, they will also
need to create more meaningful work, sustain happier and healthier lives, and
return to what conservatives call "family values." The Unsettling of America is
a quarter century old now, but most of its arguments remain current.
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.
Paperback: 246 pages
Publisher: Sierra Club Books; (November 1, 2004)