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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Mark Sundeen Narrator: Mark Sundeen Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.


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Quotes & Awards

  • “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 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 


  • A fascinating, timely, and deeply personal examination of what it means to be a non-conformist in the modern age. Outside
  • “A well-crafted, intimate portrait. San Francisco Chronicle
  • Context is everything in this carefully and affectionate­ly reported account of idealists working not to leave the real world behind, but to make it better. BookPage

    “One of the more refreshing reads to hit shelves in 2017.
  • “Homesteading loses its reality TV show sheen in the hands of Sundeen…From dirt roads in rural Missouri to Detroit’s foreclosed streets, Sundeen reports how people throughout the United States have chosen to live simple but never simply…these pages will leave any reader with a penchant for sustainability to question their own carbon footprint. Library Journal
  • 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
  • Context is everything in this carefully and affectionate­ly reported account of idealists working not to leave the real world behind, but to make it better. BookPage
  • 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
  • “Homesteading loses its reality TV show sheen in the hands of Sundeen…From dirt roads in rural Missouri to Detroit’s foreclosed streets, Sundeen reports how people throughout the United States have chosen to live simple but never simply…these pages will leave any reader with a penchant for sustainability to question their own carbon footprint. Library Journal
  • 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
  • Context is everything in this carefully and affectionate­ly reported account of idealists working not to leave the real world behind, but to make it better. BookPage
  • Context is everything in this carefully and affectionate­ly reported account of idealists working not to leave the real world behind, but to make it better. BookPage
  • 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
  • “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
  • 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
  • “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
  • “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
  • “There is a fullness and complexity to each of these tales that is impressive and illustrates a feat of cerebral strength on the part of Sundeen. Albuquerque’s Weekly Alibi
  • “One of the more refreshing reads to hit shelves in 2017. Signature Reads
  • "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 


  • Captivating . . . Sundeen brings his subject vividly to life [and] makes a case for Suelo’s relevance to our time. The Seattle Times
  • Sundeen deftly portrays [Suelo] as a likeable, oddly sage guy . . . who finds happiness in radical simplicity [and] personifies a critique that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt remorse on the treadmill of getting and spending. Outside
  • Exquisitely timed . . . a slim, quick read that belies the weightiness underneath. Missoula Independent
  • A fascinating subject . . . both resonant as a character study and infinitely thought-provoking in its challenge to all our preconceptions about modern life—and about the small and large hypocrisies people of all philosophies and religious paths assume they need to accept. Salt Lake City Weekly
  • Compelling...[and] important. Outside
  • 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
  • If talk of politics makes you pine for a life away from Twitter and cable news and the rest, Mark Sundeen's The Unsettlers offers a few tips for how to build a sustainable future. The New York Times Book Review
  • [Sundeen] relays the homesteaders’ stories with fierce curiosity and empathy...an enlightening read... [and] exceptional reporting on a topic that we’d all be wise to familiarize ourselves with, especially in the shadow of an indefatigably evil administration. Paris Review
  • “A well-crafted, intimate portrait. San Francisco Chronicle
  • “[A] deftly written study. Nature
  • “[A] deftly written study. Nature
  • "A seriously fascinating and inspiring read. It's a book for anyone who has ever wondered how to live more sustainably, more consciously, and also a bit more crazily (in a wow-how-can-they-live-without-the-internet? kind of way). Mark is a terrific writer and I was absorbed by every page of this deep, insightful examination of the lives of a handful of Americans who choose to live differently. Cheryl Strayed, from her Instagram
  • “By framing the book as a search for answers, not arguments, Sundeen fills [The Unsettlers] with empathy and curiosity. Each section is distinguished by strong reporting, and Sundeen’s admiration for his subjects is clear...[But] the most important aspect of the book is not about homesteading. Instead, it’s this: every choice is, in some way, political. What one buys at the store and how one gets around are all expressions of one’s values, conscious or not. We should all do more thinking on that subject. The Rumpus
  • “By framing the book as a search for answers, not arguments, Sundeen fills [The Unsettlers] with empathy and curiosity. Each section is distinguished by strong reporting, and Sundeen’s admiration for his subjects is clear. The Rumpus
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for January 2017
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