Part 9 of

Allan C. Carlson's
"The Natural Family
Where It Belongs"
(a book review)

16 February 2014

I am reviewing Allan C. Carlson’s new book, The Natural Family Where It Belongs: New Agrarian Essays (Click Here if you would like to begin with Part 1 of this series). 

Chapter 10 of this book is the final chapter and it is titled, The Curious Return of the Small Family Farm. I thoroughly enjoyed this chapter, much like I thoroughly enjoyed the introduction to this book. 

But as I was reading, I kept thinking to myself that I had read it before.  A little research brought me to a blog post I wrote almost six years ago. Agrarianism Reborn was my report on an article by Allan Carlson that appeared in The Intercollegiate Review of Spring 2008. There is a link there to the article.

That 2008 article is pretty much exactly Chapter 10 of this book.


Anyone who writes a book with "New Agrarian Essays" in the title (or anything akin to that) can expect that I will purchase a copy, and report on the book at this blog. That word agrarian is like a magnet to me.

And I'll buy any book Allan Carlson writes because I've read several of his books and I've learned from them. I admire and respect him for his defense of the "natural family." I also greatly appreciate him promoting the agrarian way of life as the ideal for raising a natural family.

Mr. Carlson has long understood and articulated the importance of re-establishing the family economy as a way of strengthening families; as a way of restoring the functionality and vitality of family life that was lost to industrialism.

The first book I read by Allan C. Carlson was From Cottage to Work Station. That book has an excellent quote about the family economy, and I included it in my own book, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian...

"Nor is love enough to hold a family together… Meaningful family survival depends on the building and maintenance of a true household economy, one that exists apart from the national and international economies… Toward [this end], both men and women are still called home to relearn and recommit to the deeper meanings of the ancient words husbandry and housewifery."

Also, when I was writing my Deliberate Agrarian book (back in 2005), I agonized a bit over how to define the word, "agrarian." I remember discussing this with Rick Saenz and he advised me to read Allan Carlson's book, The New Agrarian Mind. A copy was on my shelf. I read it carefully, and it was a big help.

So, no doubt about it, I'm a fan of Allan Carlson. But I have to admit that this book, The Natural Family Where It Belongs: New Agrarian Essays, disappointed me a bit. I do not regret buying the book and reading it. I learned some things that I didn't know before, and there were some parts of the book that I really enjoyed. But with that title, "New Agrarian Essays," I expected something different. I expected the essays to be a little more "rooted" in the agrarian ideal, and some of them were not rooted quite as deeply as I would have liked.


RonC said...

I admire your sticktoitivness in completing this review. I would have probably given up after chapter 1. Maybe when one writes in a public forum, they feel obligated to finish what they start and that might be a good reason for me to start blogging. I am always grateful for people like you who fill the Internet with wonderful information.

I got my copy of Jean-Martin Fortier's "the market gardener" last night and a quick perusal of the book and reading the first chapter indicates it will be a good one.

Cynthia (C.L) Lewis said...

After a full review of the book, I think I'll wait for a less expensive paperback edition. Though I'm sure the book is definitely worth my reading time, I shall wait. I am also waiting for my edition of The Market Gardener to come in the mail. My non-reader husband is also anxiously awaiting it. He spent a great deal of time on Fortier's website after your review. Thanks Herrick!

roger u said...

Are all of your book reviews collected in one place?

Herrick Kimball said...

roger u,

No, not yet. But if you click on the link (at the beginning of this review) you will go back to Part 1 and can click your way through from there.