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.