Every society expresses its fundamental values and hopes in the ways it inhabits its landscapes. In this literate and wide-ranging exploration, Eric T. Freyfogle raises difficult questions about America's core values while illuminating the social origins of urban sprawl, dwindling wildlife habitats, and over-engineered rivers. These and other land-use crises, he contends, arise mostly because of cultural attitudes that made sense on the American frontier but now threaten the land's ecological fabric. To support and sustain healthy communities, profound adjustments will be required. Freyfogle's search leads him down unusual paths. He probes Charles Frazier's novel Cold Mountain for insights on the healing power of nature and tests the wisdom in Wendell Berry's fiction. He challenges journalists writing about environmental issues to get beyond well-worn rhetoric and explain the true choices that Americans face. In an imaginary job advertisement, he issues a call for a national environmental leader, identifying the skills and knowledge required, taking note of cultural obstacles, and looking critically at supposed allies. Examining recent federal elections, he largely blames the conservation cause and its inattention to cultural issues for the diminished status of the environment as a decisive issue. Agrarianism and the Good Society identifies the social, historical, political, and cultural obstacles to humans' harmony with nature and advocates a new orientation, one that begins with healthy land and that better reflects our utter dependence on it. In all, Agrarianism and the Good Society offers a critical yet hopeful guide for cultural change, essential for anyone interested in the benefits and creative possibilities of responsible land use.
"Eric Freyfogle, one of the most astute observers of law and land in the U.S., here asks us to rethink the roots of the Good Society. This is an eloquent and wise book that calls us to return to agrarian fundamentals. Highly recommended." -- David W. Orr, author of Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human
"Agrarianism in the Good Society is the work of a seasoned thinker and activist. Freyfogle leaves the reader with the relieved sense that somewhere, somehow, capable people are actually thinking hard, and thinking practically, about the kinds of troubles politicians rarely dare to address. This book brims with clear thinking for muddled times." -- Eric J. Miller, Geneva College
"To own land is to assume a vital societal responsibility that extends across the landscape to neighbors, wildlife, and generations yet unborn. Such is Eric Freyfogle's message in Agrarianism and the Good Society, a wide ranging and persuasively presented reexamination of our relationship to the earth that sustains us. As one of our most passionate and thoughtful scholars, Freyfogle draws upon the teachings of Aldo Leopold, Wendell Berry, and others, to set forth commonsense prescriptions for shifting societal attitudes toward property away from an individualistic ethic and toward community responsibility. In doing so, he challenges conventional ideas, reinvigorates traditional values, and offers a compelling new cultural view of land health." -- Robert B. Keiter, author of Keeping Faith with Nature: Ecosystems, Democracy, a
"Freyfogle's work is distinguished by its grasp of legal principles, its attention to history, its openness to insights from religious traditions, and its focus on the role of imagery and rhetoric in shaping our behavior. He also writes with a clarity and vigor that are rare today in prose informed by serious scholarly inquiry. However the shift to an ecologically wiser way of life comes about, the arguments laid out here, and especially the vision of land and community health, will point us in the direction we need to go." -- Scott Russell Sanders, author of A Private History of Awe
""Freyfogle manages to present even his boldest assertions of the necessity for a pro-life consercation movement in ways that make it a perfectly consistent and logical precondition for sound conservation."" -- Tobias J. Lanz, Chronicles
""In this diverse collection of essays, Freyfogle covers much well-worn intellectual terrain with fresh eyes as he explores issues of conservation, landuse, and environmental stewardship in engaging, folksy prose that will surely please audiences far beyond the academy. Indeed, this is not your typical academic book, and those who approach the work expecting a detached tome will surely be disappointed." -- Nicolaas Mink, Environmental History" -- Nicolaas Mink, Environmental History
"It is a political, ecological, intellectual, and personal work providing grand insight to the politics of our time." -- Material Culture