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Extended Audio Sample The Unsettlers: In Search of the Good Life in Todays America, by Mark Sundeen Click for printable size audiobook cover
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.

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, in Detroit, a horticulturist, daughter of the city and descendant of Mississippi sharecroppers, and her husband, a disillusioned public school teacher, 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • 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
  • “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
  • 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
  • "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 


  • “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
  • "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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for January 2017
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