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Back to the Land Cover

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Back to the Land

The Enduring Dream of Self-Sufficiency in Modern America

Dona Brown

For many, “going back to the land” brings to mind the 1960s and 1970s—hippie communes and the Summer of Love, The Whole Earth Catalog and Mother Earth News. More recently, the movement has reemerged in a new enthusiasm for locally produced food and more sustainable energy paths. But these latest back-to-the-landers are part of a much larger story. Americans have been dreaming of returning to the land ever since they started to leave it. In Back to the Land, Dona Brown explores the history of this recurring impulse.

            Back-to-the-landers have often been viewed as nostalgic escapists or romantic nature-lovers. But their own words reveal a more complex story. In such projects as Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Farms, Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Broadacre City,” and Helen and Scott Nearing’s quest for “the good life,” Brown finds that the return to the farm has meant less a going-backwards than a going-forwards, a way to meet the challenges of the modern era. Progressive reformers pushed for homesteading to help impoverished workers get out of unhealthy urban slums. Depression-era back-to-the-landers, wary of the centralizing power of the New Deal, embraced a new “third way” politics of decentralism and regionalism. Later still, the movement merged with environmentalism. To understand Americans’ response to these back-to-the-land ideas, Brown turns to the fan letters of ordinary readers—retired teachers and overworked clerks, recent immigrants and single women. In seeking their rural roots, Brown argues, Americans have striven above all for the independence and self-sufficiency they associate with the agrarian ideal.

Balsam Fir Cover

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Balsam Fir

A Monographic Review

E.V. Bakuzis and H.L. Hansen

Balsam Fir was first published in 1965. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Professors Bakuzis and Hansen, with the assistance of a number of co-authors of individual chapters, present an exhaustive survey of the literature on the balsam fir, providing a coherent picture of the species and its place in nature and forestry practice. The balsam fir is used extensively in the pulp and paper industry, and it is known to millions as a traditional Christmas tree. In North America it is a major tree species in Canada, in the northeastern United States, and in the Great Lakes region.

In the search of the literature, over 2000 sources were consulted and considerably more than half of them are cited in the book. The references, organized in an ecological framework, cover the period from the seventeenth century to the present. The authors have reviewed and integrated these data in a unified, but multipurposed, book. In the integration of the source material the authors also made contributions of their own. The book contains the following chapters: Botanical Foundations, Geography and Synecology, Ecological Factors, Microbiology, Entomology, Reproduction, Stand Development, Growth and Yield, and Utilization. Appendixes list fungi and myxomycetes and insects associated with balsam fir. There are 30 illustrations, including a frontispiece drawing by the noted nature artist Francis Lee Jaques.

The book will appeal to a wide range of readers specifically concerned with forestry, including research workers, educators, entomologists, pathologists, and managing foresters, as well as conservationists and wildlife biologist in general.

Bamboo Fly Rod Suite Cover

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Bamboo Fly Rod Suite

Reflections on Fishing and the Geography of Grace

Frank Soos

After he was handed an old broken-down bamboo fly rod, Frank Soos waited several years before he cautiously undertook its restoration. That painstaking enterprise becomes the central metaphor and the unifying theme for the captivating personal essays presented here.

With sly wit and disarming candor, Soos recounts fly-fishing adventures that become points of departure for wide-ranging ruminations on the larger questions that haunt him. Coming to terms with his new rod in “On Wanting Everything,” Soos casts a skeptical eye on the engines of consumerism and muses on the paradox of how a fishing rod that becomes too valuable ceases to be useful. “The Age of Imperfection” begins as a rueful account of his botched repair work but soon changes into an insightful reflection on the seductiveness of perfection and finishes as an homage to the creative power that comes from mistakes. In “Useful Tools” Soos takes a decidedly pessimistic look at the age-old quest to combine the good with the beautiful and concludes with an eloquent appreciation of a good tool put to an unintended use. “On His Slowness” offers fresh new perceptions about the human costs of the ever-accelerating pace of contemporary life and the increasingly hard work of resisting it. More than a meditation on suicide, “Obituary with Bamboo Fly Rod” engages the issue of individual human responsibility and the ultimate question of “How to be” with equal parts humility and wonder.

This elegant volume is handsomely illustrated with the full-color paintings of Alaskan artist Kesler Woodward. Rich in wisdom and physical appeal, Bamboo Fly Rod Suite is a distinctive and rewarding book with wide-ranging appeal.

The Banana Cover

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The Banana

Empires, Trade Wars, and Globalization

James Wiley

The banana is the world’s most important fresh fruit commodity. Little more than a century old, the global banana industry began in the late 1880s as a result of technological advances such as refrigerated shipping, which facilitated the transportation of this highly perishable good to distant markets. Since its inception the banana industry has been fraught with controversy, exhibiting many of the issues underlying the basic global economic relations that first emerged in the era of European colonialism. Perhaps more than any other agricultural product, the banana reflects the evolution of the world economy. At each stage changes in the global economy manifested themselves in the economic geography of banana production and trade. This remains true today as neoliberal imperatives drive the globalization process and mandate freer trade, influencing the patterns of the transatlantic banana trade.
The Banana demystifies the banana trade and its path toward globalization. It reviews interregional relationships in the industry and the changing institutional framework governing global trade and assesses the roles of such major players as the European Union and the World Trade Organization. It also analyzes the forces driving today’s economy, such as the competitiveness imperative, diversification processes, and niche market strategies. Its final chapter suggests how the outcome of the recent banana war will affect bananas and trade in other commodities sectors as well.
The Banana belies the common perception of globalization as a monolithic and irresistible force and reveals instead various efforts to resist or modify the process at local and national levels. Nevertheless, the banana does represent another step toward a globalized and industrialized agricultural economy.

Basic and Applied Aspects of Vestibular Function Cover

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Basic and Applied Aspects of Vestibular Function

J.C. Hwang, V.J. Wilson

This volume is the compilation of the series of original articles presentes at the International Symposium on Basic and Applied Aspects of Vestibular Function held in Hong Kong, September 13-16, 1987, in conjunction with the centenary celebration of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Hong Kong.

A Bat Man in the Tropics Cover

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A Bat Man in the Tropics

Chasing El Duende

Theodore Fleming

The euphoria of discovery is the only motivation many scientists need for studying nature and its secrets. Yet euphoria is rarely expressed in scientific publications. This book, a personal account of more than thirty years of fieldwork by one of the world’s leading bat biologists, wonderfully conveys the thrill of scientific discovery. Theodore Fleming’s work to document the lives and ecological importance of plant-visiting bats has taken him to the tropical forests of Panama, Costa Rica, and Australia, and to the lush Sonoran Desert of northwest Mexico and Arizona. This book tells the story of his fascinating career and recounts his many adventures in the field.

Fleming weaves autobiographical reflections together with information on the natural history and ecology of bats and describes many other animals and plants he has encountered. His book details the stresses and rewards of life in scientific field camps, gives portraits of prominent biologists such as Dan Janzen and Peter Raven, and traces the development of modern tropical biology. A witness to the destruction and development of many of the forests he has visited throughout his career, Fleming makes a passionate plea for the conservation of these wild places.

Bataille’s Peak Cover

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Bataille’s Peak

Energy, Religion, and Postsustainability

Allan Stoekl

As the price of oil climbs toward $100 a barrel, our impending post-fossil fuel future appears to offer two alternatives: a bleak existence defined by scarcity and sacrifice or one in which humanity places its faith in technological solutions with unforeseen consequences. Are there other ways to imagine life in an era that will be characterized by resource depletion?


The French intellectual Georges Bataille saw energy as the basis of all human activity—the essence of the human—and he envisioned a society that, instead of renouncing profligate spending, would embrace a more radical type of energy expenditure: la dépense, or “spending without return.” In Bataille’s Peak, Allan Stoekl demonstrates how a close reading of Bataille—in the wake of Giordano Bruno and the Marquis de Sade— can help us rethink not only energy and consumption, but also such related topics as the city, the body, eroticism, and religion. Through these cases, Stoekl identifies the differences between waste, which Bataille condemned, and expenditure, which he celebrated.


The challenge of living in the twenty-first century, Stoekl argues, will be to comprehend—without recourse to austerity and self-denial—the inevitable and necessary shift from a civilization founded on waste to one based on Bataillean expenditure.


Allan Stoekl is professor of French and comparative literature at Penn State University. He is the author of Agonies of the Intellectual: Commitment, Subjectivity, and the Performative in the Twentieth-Century French Tradition and translator of Bataille’s Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927–1939 (Minnesota, 1985).

Bats in Forests Cover

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Bats in Forests

Conservation and Management

edited by Michael J. Lacki, John P. Hayes, and Allen Kurta foreword by Merlin D. Tuttle

Although bats are often thought of as cave dwellers, many species depend on forests for all or part of the year. Of the 45 species of bats in North America, more than half depend on forests, using the bark of trees, tree cavities, or canopy foliage as roosting sites. Over the past two decades it has become increasingly clear that bat conservation and management are strongly linked to the health of forests within their range. Initially driven by concern for endangered species—the Indiana bat, for example—forest ecologists, timber managers, government agencies, and conservation organizations have been altering management plans and silvicultural practices to better accommodate bat species. Bats in Forests presents the work of a variety of experts who address many aspects of the ecology and conservation of bats. The chapter authors describe bat behavior, including the selection of roosts, foraging patterns, and seasonal migration as they relate to forests. They also discuss forest management and its influence on bat habitat. Both public lands and privately owned forests are considered, as well as techniques for monitoring bat populations and activity. The important role bats play in the ecology of forests—from control of insects to nutrient recycling—is revealed by a number of authors. Bat ecologists, bat conservationists, forest ecologists, and forest managers will find in this book an indispensable synthesis of the topics that concern them.

Bats of Texas Cover

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Bats of Texas

Loren K. Ammerman, Christine L. Hice, and David J. Schmidly; Illustrations by Carson Brown; Photographs by J. Scott Altenbach

With all new illustrations, color photographs, revised species accounts, updated maps, and a sturdy flexible binding, this new edition of the authoritative guide to bats in Texas will serve as the field guide and all-around reference of choice for amateur naturalists as well as mammalogists, wildlife biologists, and professional conservationists. Texas is home to all four families of bats that occur in the United States, including thirty-three species of these important yet increasingly threatened mammals. Although five species, each represented by a single specimen, may be regarded as vagrants, no other state has a bat fauna more diverse, from the state’s most common species, the Brazilian free-tailed bat, to the rare hairy-legged vampire. The introductory chapter of this new edition of Bats of Texas surveys bats in general—their appearance, distribution, classification, evolution, biology, and life history—and discusses public health and bat conservation. An updated account for each species follows, with pictures by an outstanding nature photographer, distribution maps, and a thorough bibliography. Bats of Texas also features revised and illustrated dichotomous keys accompanied by gracefully detailed line drawings to aid in identification. A list of specimens examined is located at batsoftexas.com.

Bats of the United States and Canada Cover

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Bats of the United States and Canada

Michael J. Harvey, J. Scott Altenbach, and Troy L. Best

Bats of the United States and Canada is the only complete and accessible guide to all forty-seven species of bats found in the region. Bats are among the world’s most fascinating creatures. The only mammals capable of true flight, these animals are marvels of evolution. A wide variety of species lives in the United States and Canada, ranging from the California leaf-nosed bat to the Florida bonneted bat, from the eastern small-footed bat to the northern long-eared Bat. Fact-filled and easy to use, this guide includes accurate range maps, detailed biological information, and useful identification tips. J. Scott Altenbach's stunning photographs accompany each species account, capturing the amazing diversity of these winged mammals. This guide also includes helpful information on the natural history of bats from across the globe. Bats today face ever-increasing danger from destruction of habitat, new technologies such as wind turbines, chemical toxicants, and devastating diseases like white-nose syndrome, which is killing millions of cave bats in the United States and Canada. The authors discuss these threats and others as well as the latest conservation efforts to protect bats around the world. Written by three of the world’s leading bat experts, this volume is the most comprehensive guide to the bat species of the United States and Canada available.

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