Back from the Land: How Young Americans Went to Nature in the 1970s, and Why They Came Back

Back from the Land How Young Americans Went to Nature in the s and Why They Came Back When Eleanor Agnew her husband and two young children moved to the Maine woods in the back to the land movement had already attracted untold numbers of converts who had grown increasingly estr

  • Title: Back from the Land: How Young Americans Went to Nature in the 1970s, and Why They Came Back
  • Author: Eleanor Agnew
  • ISBN: 9781566636643
  • Page: 427
  • Format: Paperback
  • 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 deletWhen 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 naive 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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    830 thoughts on “Back from the Land: How Young Americans Went to Nature in the 1970s, and Why They Came Back

    • This was highly amusing. A great account of a homesteader's personal experience. I have to give her credit for sticking it out for so long. And I'm always so happy to have photographs in books like these, and there were 20. Agnew gives us the good, the bad, and the in-between of homesteading. She makes some very wise observations. She learned a lot from the experience and was clearly enriched, even though it ultimately was not the lifestyle she wanted to maintain indefinatley. And really, who co [...]


    • This isn't a review, just some of the notes I made while reading this book last Fall:"The thing that strikes me so profoundly about all of these goofy hippies' negative homesteading experiences is that they ultimately couldn't shed their middle class values and that's why they couldn't make it work. They failed to adapt to an alternative lifestyle because they weren't of that persuasion before they moved out to the land. They had straight jobs where they were generally upwardly mobile, marriages [...]


    • It's fascinating to read current history, something in this case I just missed. Yet I recall the granny dresses and the pioneer shows on TV, and their phenomenal lack of realism. All of the people in this book took their middle class ideals to rural areas and stayed for awhile. Boredom seemed to be a major reason they returned, coupled with their cramped homesteads, and the subsequent lack of privacy. Relationships spun into turmoil when people either created space between them and lost their re [...]


    • If you were in your late teens or early twenties in the late 1960s or early 1970s, and if you espoused the typical hippie points of view, chances are you at least thought about moving far away from "civilization" and living a simpler, less materialistic life. This is the story of many who did just that, and what happened to them. Most were so determined to live off the grid they eschewed indoor plumbing, electricity, and any kind of heat except firewood. The majority of stories Eleanor Agnew tel [...]


    • "For the most part, massive shifts towards simplicity such as the back-to-the-land movements have had a very short life span. People looking for an overnight conversion are bound to be disappointed and will inevitably backslide to the old way." I had mixed feelings about this book. It was extremely interesting in subject matter, yet slightly dry in writing. The book describes well, through personal stories from many different people, every aspect of the back to the land movement. At first though [...]


    • Fascinating and so predictable at the same time. While you have to admire gumption, so many of the people who went "back to the land" were shockingly naive. I know it was a different time, and certainly these educated, middle class baby boomers had very sheltered upbringings, but WOW! It wouldn't have been a bad idea to apprentice yourself and learn about farming before quitting your job and packing up the kids to move to a northern clime in January. When building a house, consider insulation. T [...]


    • This book was sort of interesting. At least, the first half was. I got all excited about the ideals that lead these people to go back to the land. But, the end was sort of a wet blanket. Basically, all you need to know is "It didn't work. We were poor. We didn't like being poor. It was really hard. So we went back." The subtext that really bummed me out was "But, we didn't *really* sell out, because we all work in acedemia now." The first part of the book was awesome. The second part basically s [...]


    • Drawing on her own personal experience with homesteading as a hippie and the experience of numerous current and former back-to-the-landers of the generation that she interviewed, the author shows us just what her subtitle promised: why some hippies left not just the mainstream but civilization proper to try to live off the land, and what made them return.This is an interesting read for anyone who has questioned the sanity of the “modern” world and considered, however seriously, leaving it fo [...]


    • I am continually fascinated with the back to the land movement and homesteading. I have absolutely NO desire to pursue this life, but I still find if interesting. The author of this book left the city and built a small cabin in Main with her husband and two sons. She tells her own story and the story of many other homesteaders and commune dwellers from that era. The primary theme is unmet expectations. Many homesteaders envisioned a life off the grid that involved simple living, harmony with nat [...]


    • This book offers an interesting look into the homesteading movement in the 1970s, which was made popular by Helen and Scott Nearing with their book "Living the Good Life". A lot of young middle-class people in the 1970s were discouraged with modern living and the economy was worse than in the 1960s, and they were being bombarded by new technologies, yet feeling like they didn't know the value of true, meaningful work. This book talks about several accounts of families or couples moving onto farm [...]


    • Back from the Land is the pessimistic counter to Radical Homemakers. If you got a lot of cautionary data from This Life is in Your Hands, Back from the Land will be even more useful since the latter profiles several different failed homesteaders rather than sticking to one story.Granted, reading about why the previous generation gave up on their farms is tough for modern homesteaders. But if you don't learn from the past, we're doomed to repeat it, right?


    • Lest we should forget that a bunch of people (of my parents' generation) already decided to go back to the land, and came back. This is an honest, interesting account of all the not-so-enchanting aspects of living off the land in the 1970's. Working on a farm myself (for 3 months) is all it took me to realize that pastoral bliss is not all its chalked up to be. The beauty is in the balance of now and then.


    • An interesting contrast to the modern farm movement. Well written investigation of the motivations and discoveries of the back to the land movement in the 1970s. I'll be interested to see if the current crop of off-the-grid idealists ends up with the same disillusionments, or creates a viable alternative culture of food.


    • Anecdotal treatment. Baby boomers look back on their pursuit of an American agrarian utopian ideal, what didn't work, and what aspects of their idealism endure in their more mainstream lives since leaving the land.


    • Because they didn't realize how much work it would be and being poor was no fun. That's the answer I already expected - I was hoping for some more analysis and less anecdote. A quick read, interesting enough if, for example, you and everyone you grew up with belonged to this group of people.


    • Moral of the story: homesteading is no fun if you have kids, want dental care, enjoy being warm in the winter, are not in perfect health, do not enjoy brutal manual labor day in and day out in horrible weather, or get stressed out by never having money for necessities.




    • Having lived it, I didn't need to read all the anticdotes, but I enjoyed and agreed with the analysis of the movement





    • Interesting to hear perspectives from all kinds of people in occupations all across the spectrum, that dropped everything to live the natural life.


    • an interesting premise, but every time she brought up a story just to complain about something personal, I wanted to take a nap


    • Interesting book. I think I probably would have tried this had I been the right age at the time. I probably would have left the land for the same reasons they did.


    • I really enjoyed this. I think it's prompted me to read more about homesteaders/commune-dwellers/back-to-the-land folks.



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