BETTER OFF: Flipping the Switch on Technology

Eric Brende, Author . HarperCollins $24.95 (233p) ISBN 978-0-06-057004-0

About a decade ago, Brende was pursuing a graduate degree at MIT by studying technology's influence on society, and he reached conclusions that disturbed both him and his faculty mentors. A chance encounter with a "black-hatted man" prompted Brende and his new wife to move to a religious, "Mennonite-type" community that in many respects makes the Amish seem worldly, where he hoped to pare his environment down to "a baseline of minimal machinery" that could sustain human comfort while allowing him to stay off the power grid. (Details about the community, which Brende dubs the "Minimites" in recognition of their austerity, are left intentionally vague so as to preserve their privacy.) The pervasive back-to-basics sentiment will surprise few familiar with others who work this vein, like Bill McKibben and Kirkpatrick Sale, but Brende's nostalgia for a simpler way of life is far from rabid. His rough prose honestly addresses how neighbors in his new community could graciously offer help yet warily view Brende as an intruder; Brende himself was particularly sensitive to perceived slights, and the radical lifestyle shift created a unique set of strains on his new marriage. Though the ending feels a bit rushed, his gentle case for simple living will easily resonate with the converted and may inspire skeptics to grapple more intimately with the issue. Agent, John Ware. (Aug. 6)

Reviewed on: 05/24/2004
Release date: 08/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-06-115679-3
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 272 pages - 978-0-06-072979-0
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-06-072981-3
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-06-173899-9
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-06-057005-7
Show other formats
Discover what to read next