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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wealth of detail; and food for thought
I'm writing this review primarily because the previous review does not reflect the true value of this book. I agree this book is not a casual read. It is a very detailed document of how two intellectuals born into privilidged circumstances, eventually rejected the exploitation they saw in society, prefering a frugal life in the country where they could live according to...
Published on 19 July 2006 by Pooky Doodle

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35 of 47 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars different!
I brought this big fat book expecting another humorous, well written, enjoyable account of a couples struggle to survive on a smallholding. I was expecting cows, pigs, sheep, chickens etc. But I was very dissapointed with this book. No animals - they are strict vegetarians and no humour. Just essay after essay, and whole chapters on how we should eat vegetables, and...
Published on 1 Sept. 2004 by M. Morrison


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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wealth of detail; and food for thought, 19 July 2006
This review is from: The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living (Paperback)
I'm writing this review primarily because the previous review does not reflect the true value of this book. I agree this book is not a casual read. It is a very detailed document of how two intellectuals born into privilidged circumstances, eventually rejected the exploitation they saw in society, prefering a frugal life in the country where they could live according to their principles.

I believe they wrote this book because they had found something of value they wanted to share with anyone who was interested, and not to make a fast buck.

The depth of information on what they ate, how they grew their food, preserved their crops , their 'leisure' time etc - although it is written to their own situation, gives insights into self sufficient living that I have not gleaned from other books before. This book is genuine. They do not pretend to be experts in the field of smallholding. They were almost complete novices, out on their own, learning from their mistakes.

If you stick out reading the book, you will also gain a real sense of how time management takes on a new meaning. We tend to plan goals taking only a few weeks to achieve, perhaps a year before the job is done. Helen and Scott Nearing took on projects that took decades to complete e.g. Scott digging the lake by hand. If you don't have the will to finish the book, then self sufficient living is definately not for you.

For 'lighter' reading and real insight into their relationship, read 'Loving and leaving the good life'. Very touching.
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64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent in all respects, 24 Nov. 2003
By 
DAVID-LEONARD WILLIS (Thessaloniki Greece) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living (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.
She goes on to tell us that after 20 years:
- a piece of eroded, depleted mountain land had been restored to fertility
- a successful economy without animals, animal products, chemical fertilizers had been created
- a subsistence household had been established , paying its way and yielding a modest surplus
- a small scale business had been established from which wagery had been virtually eliminated
- health was at a high level
- the complexities of city life had been replaced by a simple life pattern
- they enjoyed six months labor and six months leisure used for research, travel, writing, speaking, teaching
- they always had an open house for hundreds of people annually
We are told that no family group of vigor, energy, purpose, imagination and determination need continue to wear the yoke of a competitive, acquisitive, and predatory culture. A family can live with nature, make a living, preserve and enhance efficiency, enjoy leisure, and do their part to make the world a better place. They maintain that a couple of any age 20-50 with minimum health, intelligence and capital can adapt to country living, learn its crafts, overcome its difficulties and build a rich pattern of life of simple values, being productive of personal and social good.
If you have wondered whether city life is for you, there is no better book to read than "The Good Life".
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Nearing's were such wonderful people!, 15 Jan. 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living (Paperback)
This is a fantastic book. It's full of information, fun facts, excellent recommendations and how-to information. I've read it several times and I'll read it several more times.

I live here in Maine and felt a great connection to their way of life. As a homesteader, I benefitted from their shared knowledge a lot.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Good Life, 2 Jun. 2004
By 
tim (Tadcaster, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living (Paperback)
A fascinating insight into the Nearings' experiment in living an alternative lifestyle. A book full of information on their simple but obviousely imensely fulfilling day to day life, but more importantly this book takes the time to explain the reasons for their decisions and their life philosophy.
Inspirational and fascinating, I only wish I had words to express how highly I recomend this book to anyone and everyone who is sufficiently interested to have read this review.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Living Sanely In Insane Times, 8 Sept. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living (Paperback)
In an age dominated by the instantaneous flow of computer controlled information, it is refreshing to take a step back and find that the best existence is most often the simplest. Unlike many counter-culture icons of the late '60s - early '70s, the Nearings lived as they preached. The basic premise behind their lifestyle was: If each one of us spends 25% of our time feeding ourselves and providing for basic needs -- food, clothing and shelter -- we have the remaining 75% for continual self-improvement. Scott Nearing's global vision was that if every person strives to improve himself/herself, envious actions such as war, rampant capitalism, and racism are removed from the social equation.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book of my life!, 30 Jun. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living (Paperback)
This book is the key to life. Helen and Scott did what others only dream of. One of my most influential people during my developing years handed me a copy of this book and said, "Read this and find your soul." That gent was a fan of the Good Life and figured out how to live on thirty five dollars a week in Silver Lake, NH. His legacy lives in my heart and this book is where I go back in time to understand a way of life I dream of. I have come to realize from this book that you need the right spouse to make this kind of lifestyle happen. Not all spouses can handle this lifestyle. Mine cannot and I have an ache in my soul for the one who can.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly inspirational book!, 3 Aug. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living (Paperback)
Since I was a little girl I've dreamt of living on a farm. Growing my own food. Gaining my daily exercise while I do my chores. Today I'm in my early 30's and still have a strong desire to live a life similar to Helen & Scott Nearing. This book was such an inspiration to me! "The Good Life" has made me yearn even more for a healthier, and fruitful lifestyle. I'm thankful that Helen & Scott were such generous people and willing to share their experiences and knoweldge. I only wish that I had the opportunity to meet these beautiful souls and share a few days labor, meal and conversation with them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating story of the birth of modern self-sufficiency, 13 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living (Paperback)
As founder of the first Self-Sufficiency group in the UK in 1978 (which is still going strong!), and having read all the popular books at that time on the subject (John Seymour and Patrick Rivers in particular), I had little idea that the origins of the movement went back to the 1930s. It is a fascinating read, and doesn't sound at all outdated as I had feared. Recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Self-Sufficiency, (with hard working volunteers), and Some Very Extreme Ideas, 20 Oct. 2014
By 
T. Champion - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living (Paperback)
A bit heavy going and written by people who seem to have deluded themselves as to just how dependent they were on other people's labour and even on the capitalist system the abhorred.

I would have preferred the book to have started with an honest account of what Scott Nearing got up to in the first 40 or so years of his life. A little less extremism and preaching would have been good, though I admit that, even as an experiment, their methods would be very difficult to follow in our generation. However, it is still interesting and worthwhile reading.
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35 of 47 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars different!, 1 Sept. 2004
This review is from: The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living (Paperback)
I brought this big fat book expecting another humorous, well written, enjoyable account of a couples struggle to survive on a smallholding. I was expecting cows, pigs, sheep, chickens etc. But I was very dissapointed with this book. No animals - they are strict vegetarians and no humour. Just essay after essay, and whole chapters on how we should eat vegetables, and how to build with stone. In fact, it is extremely boring and I still havn't finished it. I suggest no one will enjoy this book except for human behavior experts and sociologists. Sad, but true.
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