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Publisher's Summary

The radical search for the simple life in today's America.

On a frigid April night, a classically trained opera singer, five months pregnant, and her husband, a former marine biologist, disembark an Amtrak train in La Plata, Missouri, assemble two bikes, and pedal off into the night, bound for a homestead they've purchased sight unseen. Meanwhile, a horticulturist, heir to the Great Migration that brought masses of African Americans to Detroit, and her husband, a product of the white flight from it, have turned to urban farming to revitalize the blighted city they both love. And near Missoula, Montana, a couple who have been at the forefront of organic farming for decades navigate what it means to live and raise a family ethically.

A work of immersive journalism steeped in a distinctively American social history and sparked by a personal quest, The Unsettlers traces the search for the simple life through the stories of these new pioneers and what inspired each of them to look for - or create - a better existence. Captivating and clear-eyed, it dares us to imagine what a sustainable, ethical, authentic future might actually look like.

©2017 Mark Sundeen (P)2017 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Well researched, immediately engaging, immensely readable, and ultimately inspiring. This is the perfect read for DIY-types with dreams of saving the world, or at least their own backyards." (Booklist)
"Engaging, honest, and deeply personal...[Sundeen's] superb reporting produces revealing portraits of modern hippies...inspiring.... Provocative reading for anyone who has ever yearned for a life of radical simplicity." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Sundeen...ask[s] important questions about technology, the economy, and the moral implications of being both critic and participant in our society." (Publisher's Weekly)

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Story

A seriously wonderful book

I very much enjoy this work. At a few points I was confused by stories inside stories, but quickly caught on. This might be the closest thing to a overview of homesteading and counter cultural with an eye to the world context. It was also a beautiful book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Excellent. Researched. Relevant.

In depth, personal, well -researched, Sundeen's is a book for our times. He stretches back to the Founding Fathers, through slavery and the Great Depression, and into Reganomics and the death of the family farm. But he does it through three personal, compelling stories. The three couples in the book are what make it a great story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Excellent reporting and reflections!

Backstories were personal and meaningful. Would have been more interesting to use either more narrators or various intonations by one reader.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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5 stars for the info, ideas, people & stories

I was glad I stuck it out. the narration was not its high point. the stories and people in the book were what I loved and the ideas.. things that made me challenge my own thinking.. made me want to do better, think deeper, try harder.. I have been wanting to start a small scale urban farm plot on my 1 acre in the suburban town and I have dreamed of moving off to an intentional community somewhere so this was a book that really interested me. I don't eat meat, I try to grow what I can, question where things come from, consume less... the no car views were something that made me think WOW there is another step I could take.. but WOW how hard that would really be.. lots of good info and great stories of some very amazing people living lives that truly make a difference.. if only more people did half what these folks did

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So tired of all the f-words? When did swearing become good literature?

The use of the f-word is so offensive. I would think that good writers would have a better vocabulary than that. Disgusting and disappointing.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A tale of white dude guilt

I had a hard time finishing this book. It mostly depicted white dudes and their guilt about life. The black experience is so foreign to this guy that he devotes a lot of time to "how black folks ended up in Detroit," when no other character gets the same kind of treatment. I believe the author is a journalist, and he does paint a decent portrait, but I couldn't finish it. White dude existentialist ennui in a environmentalist setting just isn't that interesting.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful