cover image Fields Without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea

Fields Without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea

Victor Davis Hanson. Free Press, $22.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-684-82299-0

We are in the penultimate stage of the death of agrarianism, says the author, a fifth-generation vine and fruit grower. Hanson (The Other Greeks) has written an eloquent and bitter elegy for the American family farm. For more than a century, his family has grown grapes (for raisins) and plums in California's San Joaquin Valley. In 1983, the raisin market crashed, marking the start of an ongoing agricultural depression. Hanson relates here the grim story of his and his neighbors' experiences. He is deeply concerned about the cultural and historical ramifications of eliminating the family farm, reminding us that the origins of Western civilization and democracy arose from a vibrant agrarianism. He charges that the American people no longer care how they get their food, as long as it is fresh, firm and cheap. To stem the decline of the family farm, the author calls for regulation of commodity brokerages, property and irrigation taxes based on size and presence of owners and elimination of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (Apr.)