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The Good Life Paperback – Jan 3 1990

4.0 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken; Reprinted edition edition (Jan. 3 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805209700
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805209709
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.2 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #46,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

“Helen and Scott Nearing are the great-grandparents of the back-to-the-land movement, having abandoned the city in 1932 for a rural life based on self-reliance, good health, and a minimum of cash. . . . Fascinating, timely, and wholly useful, a mix of the Nearings’ challenging philosophy and expert counsel on practical skills.”
—The Washington Post Book World

"A prophetic account of the creation of a self-sufficient little Walden . . . that has been an underground bible for the city-weary."
Newsweek 

"The Nearings are plain daylight, solid prose, sound information."
The New York Times Book Review 

"As close to a Walden for out times as we're likely to see."
 —Yankee Magazine

From the Publisher

"Helen and Scott Nearing are the great-grandparents of the back-to-the-land movement, having abandoned the city in 1932 for a rural life based on self-reliance, good health, and a minimum of cash...Fascinating, timely, and wholly useful, a mix of the Nearings' challenging philosophy and expert counsel on practical skills."--Washington Post Book World

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By A Customer on Sept. 14 2000
Format: Paperback
This way of life is not for me and I admit it right up front. 'The Good Life' does some mandatory chest-thumping and has more detail on building a fence or a wood shed than I'll ever need (I hope). Still, I kept on with the book 'til the end.
More than anything, I found myself feeling sorry for Helen Nearing. I know she supposedly went along with this way of life willingly, but if you read between the lines, you'll find Scott Nearing self-righteous, overbearing, a pretty bad host to company and not much fun at parties.
On the other hand, if you want someone to build you a fence and throw you a handful of granola, he's your man.
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Format: Paperback
While I admire the Nearings for dropping out of urban society and making it on their own in rural Vermont way before it was fashionable to do so, I found their tone to be didactic in the extreme, and their attitude (we are the only ones on the planet who know exactly how to live, work, play, eat, sleep, breathe etc. correctly) to be annoying.
The book gives no real practical knowledge of homesteading, other than a densely written, obtuse chapter on building with stone. It also actively disparages the rural culture and traditions of the people around their homestead. The Nearings are the only people who know anything (in their estimation), and the fact that the people around them don't bow down to them, and acquiesce to their every wish and demand, just proves that they are all dolts.
I also found it curious that despite the fact that the Nearings claimed not to use any animals on their homestead, there are two pictures of them in the book (at least in the 1970 edition I was reading) using a team of horses.
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By A Customer on Aug. 13 2003
Format: Paperback
I was very interested in reading about a couple who took the plunge and homesteaded. I found the references to why they moved to the homestead interesting, but unfortunately, the rest of the book is interweaved with this philosophy as well as social issues. The practical is overshadowed or not explained in detail. The detail that is there focuses on what they did not how they did it. If you are looking for a how-to book, you should look elsewhere. I did find the section on health interesting and helpful. Also, the second section, "Continuing the Good Life" had some practical ideas on gardening. Overall the book was a disappointment, since I expected a how-to book not a philosophy book.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a reprint of two classics "Living the good life" and "Continuing the good life". In these books, Scott and Helen Nearing describe how they chose to live deliberately, and built for themselves a sustainable life and lifestyle in Vermont and Maine. In "Living the good life", they explain some of the circumstances that led them to stage a strategic withdrawal from New York City and relocate to a run-down farm in Vermont during the 1930s. They describe how they acquired and developed their land, how they built their house, and their garden and diet. A major focus of the book is explaining their philosophy of non-exploitation, and how they wanted to implement their ideas of social justice into their lifestyle. The Nearings believed so strongly in avoiding exploitation of any kind that they avoided resorting to animal labor or products on their farm. They arranged their days so that they could spend 4 hours doing bread labor, 4 hours working with the community, and had 4 hours of free time each day to pursue independent interests. They also describe how they earned cash income from maple sugaring on their property. Towards the end of this first section, they explain that growing crowds of visitors, combined with a general lack of cooperation in the community eventually convinced them to abandon their project in Vermont and move on to Maine.
In "Continuing the Good Life," the Nearings describe how they built a second homestead in Maine. Once again, they explain how they constructed a house from stone, and how they developed a case income, this time based on blueberries. Gardening and diet is also given more space in this volume than it had in "Living the Good Life".
This book is rich with both inspiration and practical details.
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Format: Paperback
This book is about a couple who develop a self-sufficient life style. Originally I bought the book as a blue print for retirement so that I could pluck from it those things I wanted for my family - a very good guide for such a purpose. However, the Nearings had a very strong set of principles, which sets them aside from most people who want to get away from city life. An initial period of work in his grandfather's mine alongside immigrant workers turned Scott into an outspoken critic of the social system resulting in his being fired from his university post and made unemployable. Royalties on his textbooks, widely used in the educational system, ceased. Scott's wife, Helen, was also a very high-principled person. Perhaps this was the ultimate secret of their long-term success - they were completely uncompromising on whatever principles they adopted.
Helen Nearing tells us that they left the city with three objectives:
- economic: independence from the commodity and labor markets
- hygienic: to maintain and improve health
- social and ethical: to liberate and dissociate from the cruder forms of exploitation - plunder of the planet, slavery of man and beast, slaughter in war and animals for food. They were against the accumulation of profit and unearned income by non-producers.
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