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Back from the Land: How Young Americans Went to Nature in the 1970s, and Why They Came Back
When Eleanor Agnew, her husband, and two young children moved to the Maine woods in 1975, the back-to-the-land movement had already attracted untold numbers of converts who had grown increasingly estranged from mainstream American society. Visionaries by the millions were moving into woods, mountains, orchards, and farmlands in order to disconnect from...
When Eleanor Agnew, her husband, and two young children moved to the Maine woods in 1975, the back-to-the-land movement had already attracted untold numbers of converts who had grown increasingly estranged from mainstream American society. Visionaries by the millions were moving into woods, mountains, orchards, and farmlands in order to disconnect from the supposedly deleterious influences of modern life. Fed up with capitalism, TV, Washington politics, and 9-to-5 jobs, they took up residence in log cabins, A-frames, tents, old schoolhouses, and run-down farmhouses; grew their own crops; hauled water from wells; avoided doctors in favor of natural cures; and renounced energy-guzzling appliances. This is their story, in all its glories and agonies, its triumphs and disasters (many of them richly amusing), told by a woman who experienced the simple life firsthand but has also read widely and interviewed scores of people who went back to the land. Ms. Agnew tells how they found joy and camaraderie, studied their issues of Mother Earth News, coped with frozen laundry and grinding poverty, and persevered or gave up. Most of them, it turns out, came back from freedom and self-sufficiency, either by returning to urban life or by dressing up their primitive rural existence—but they held onto the values they gained during their back-to-the-land experience. Back from the Land is filled with juicy details and inspired with a naïve idealism, but the attraction of the life it describes is undeniable. Here is a book to delight those who remember how it was, those who still kick themselves for not taking the chance, and those of a new generation who are just now thinking about it.
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