Chelsea Green Publishing

Scott Nearing

Scott Nearing was one of the great social critics and humanitarians of the 20th century. Known throughout the world as the progenitors of the "back to the land" movement, the Nearings combined pragmatism and vision to create a blend now being celebrated by new generations of readers.
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Scott Nearing

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  1. The Making of a Radical

    By Scott Nearing

    Scott Nearing lived one hundred years, from 1883 to 1983--a life spanning most of the twentieth century. In his early years, Nearing made his name as a formidable opponent of child labor and military imperialism. Having been fired from university jobs for his independence of mind, Nearing became a freelance lecturer and writer, traveling widely through Depression-era and post-war America to speak with eager audiences. Five-time Socialist candidate for president Eugene V. Debs said, "Scott Nearing! He is the greatest teacher in the United States."

    Concluding that it would be better to be poor in the country than in New York City, Scott and Helen Nearing moved north to Vermont in 1932 and commenced the experiment in self-reliant living that would extend their fame far and wide. They began to grow most of their own food, and devised their famous scheme for allocating the day's hours: one third for "bread work" (livelihood), one third for "head work" (intellectual endeavors), and one third for "service to the world community." Scott (who'd grown up partly on his grandfather's Pennsylvania farm) taught Helen (who was raised in suburbia, groomed for a career as a classical violinist) the practical skills they would need: working with tools, cultivating a garden and managing a woodlot, and building stone and masonry walls.

    For the rest of their lives, the Nearings chronicled in detail their "good life," first in Vermont and ultimately on the coast of Maine, in a group of wonderful books--many of which are now being returned to print by Chelsea Green in cooperation with the Good Life Center, an educational trust established at the Nearings' Forest Farm in Harborside, Maine, to promote their ongoing legacy.

    With a new foreword by activist historian Staughton Lynd, The Making of a Radical is freshly republished-Scott Nearing's own story, told as only he could tell it.


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  2. The Maple Sugar Book

    By Helen Nearing and Scott Nearing

    A half-century ago, the world was trying to heal the wounds of global war. People were rushing to make up for lost time, grasping for material wealth. This was the era of "total electric living," a phrase beamed into living rooms by General Electric spokesman Ronald Reagan. Environmental awareness was barely a gleam in the eye of even Rachel Carson.

    And yet, Helen and Scott Nearing were on a totally different path, having left the city for the country, eschewing materialistic society in a quest for the self-sufficiency they deemed "the Good Life." Chelsea Green is pleased to honor their example by publishing a new edition of The Maple Sugar Book, complete with a new section of never-before-published photos of the Nearings working on the sugaring operation, and an essay by Greg Joly relating the story behind the book and placing the Nearings' work in the context of their neighborhood and today's maple industry.

    Maple sugaring was an important source of cash for the Nearings, as it continues to be for many New England farmers today. This book is filled with a history of sugaring from Native American to modern times, with practical tips on how to sap trees, process sap, and market syrup. In an age of microchips and software that are obsolete before you can install them, maple sugaring is a process that's stood the test of time. Fifty years after its original publication in 1950, The Maple Sugar Book is as relevant as ever to the homestead or small-scale commercial practitioner.


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