"From a crop of orphaned garlic plants in Detroit to a tipi birth in Montana, Mark Sundeen’s The Unsettlers is rigorously reported and utterly enthralling. With candor, wit, and live-voltage curiosity, Sundeen profiles pioneers who have developed better ways to live in our overdeveloped world. The Unsettlers isn’t in the business of guilt or shame mongering, but it will certainly—if you have a pulse and a laptop, or even an electrical socket—make you question how you live in the world as well."
--Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams
“You say you want a revolution? These stories of “unsettlers” striving to lead more simple lives are an inspiration as well as a dose of reality on how difficult that can be. This is an important book.”
–Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia
The radical search for the simple life in today’s America.
In the dead of winter, a former marine biologist and his pregnant wife, a classically trained opera singer, 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.
More than ever, we seem to be yearning for “the simple life.” We want to reconnect with the land and the environment in a deeper way that can assuage modern ills. We seek a livelihood that exercises body and mind without taking a toll on the planet. We long to nurture spirit and community instead of distracting and isolating ourselves with electronics. We even dream utopian dreams of discovering ways of life that model for others answers to the question of how we can live more sustainably, peacefully, authentically. 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 not only through the stories of those three very different couples, but through the visionaries, ascetics, and artists that inspired each of them to walk away from the life they knew in order to find (or create) a better existence. Captivating and clear-eyed, it dares us to imagine what a sustainable, ethical, authentic future might actually look like.
“The Unsettlers portrait of six true-hearted heroes of husbandry pitted against the Corporate Person would put the fear of God in that monster if it had a pulse. Sundeen’s opus combines fierce reasoning, romance, impeccable research, the narrative pull of a thriller, and the subliminal magic of some wondrous old myth as he takes the measure of America’s betrayed yearning for a living, thriving earth.”—David James Duncan, author of The River Why and The Brothers K
“With his chronicles of modern-day American visionaries and iconoclasts who have opted out of the mainstream culture, I’ve come to think of Mark Sundeen as our poet laureate of a new era of alternative lifestyles.”
--Bob Shacochis, author of The Woman Who Lost Her Soul