Julia's Reviews > The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry
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's review
May 03, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: foodie-stuff, whole-earth
Read in May, 2009

So if you've read anything that Barbara Kingsolver or Michael Pollan have written about food recently (which is quite a bit), you'll find that reading Wendell Berry is like going straight to the source, but about the larger picture of food production, agriculture, communities, society, and life in general. Berry wrote "Unsettling" in 1977, and it is absolutely terrifying and surreal how prescient he was then, and how important what he said still is for us today. Berry is a holistic thinker--interested in interrogating how we define health for ourselves and for our earth, and how really, the two are inextricably linked. "The body," Berry writes, "cannot be whole alone."

(I will say that he makes a slightly odd digression mid-book about monogamy & marriage, and I'm just not sure I'm ready to have even the great W.B. tell me not to have not-totally-committed-sex. But obviously that has a lot to do with me.)

I think part of the reason this book resonated so deeply with me was that I had the pleasure earlier this spring of hearing Berry live, right at a critical juncture where I didn't even know that I was dying to hear a southern drawl, but most certainly was. Into his 80s, he is just as thoughtful, funny, and wise. But, mostly, I think Berry is a revolutionary thinker, and "Unsettling" is a revolutionary book, which is a rarity of our times, to say the least.

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