This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of An American Farm

Ted Genoways. Norton, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-393-29257-2
Journalist Genoways (The Chain) sheds light on the plight of 21st-century American farmers through the story of one Nebraskan family. For a year beginning in October 2014, he followed soybean, corn, and cattle farmer Rick Hammond through the vicissitudes of unpredictable weather, ever-fluctuating crop prices, and preparations to pass his farm down to his daughter, Meghan, and future son-in-law, Kyle Galloway. Genoways adds historical context to their situation, tracing Nebraskan history from the bloody years of the Civil War when President Lincoln signed the first Homestead Act, which coaxed thousands of settlers onto barren prairie, through agriculture’s rapid industrialization following World War II and secretary of agriculture Earl Butz’s dictate to “Get big or get out” in the early 1970s. Although much of this history has been told before, Genoways’s account is unique for his dogged research and for his mastery in showing how these events have impacted farmers, their families, and the land. As the narrative moves to present day, the Hammonds’ fate collides with climate change, the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer, the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and the diplomancy of the Bush and Obama adminstrations. By following a single family through time, the book captures the complex reality of farmers in America today both in terms of the future of the industry and of their everyday lives. It is an unvarnished portrait striking for both its depth and humanity. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/10/2017
Release date: 09/19/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-393-29258-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-68168-801-5
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