The Planter of Modern Life: Louis Bromfield and the Seeds of a Food Revolution


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The Planter of Modern Life: Louis Bromfield and the Seeds of a Food Revolution Author: Format: Hardback First Published: Published By: WW Norton & Co
string(3) "352"
Pages: 352 Illustrations and other contents: 20 illustrations Language: English ISBN: 9781324001898 Categories: , , ,

In interwar France, Louis Bromfield was equally famous as a writer and as a gardener. He pruned dahlias with Edith Wharton, weeded Gertrude Stein’s vegetable patch, and fed the starving artists who flocked to his farmhouse outside Paris. His best-selling novels earned him a Pulitzer-and the jealousy of friends like Ernest Hemingway. But his radical approach to the soil has aged better than his books, inspiring a wave of farmers, foodies, and chefs to rethink how they should grow and consume their food. In 1938, Bromfield returned to his native Ohio, an expat novelist now reinvented as the squire of 1,000-acre Malabar Farm. Transplanting ideas from India and Europe, he created a mecca for forward- thinking agriculturalists and a rural retreat for celebrities like Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall (who were married there in 1945). Bromfield’s untold story is a fascinating history of people and places-and of deep-rooted concerns about the environment and its ability to sustain our most basic needs and pleasures.

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"Heyman applies keen narrative skills to tell the story of Bromfield’s celebrity-studded life—two lives, really—as an author and farmer. The result is a rattling good yarn." -- Barry Estabrook - The Wall Street Journal "Inspirational...Bromfield’s original insight was seeing the crucial importance of soil health before science really understood why this matters, or how to build it." -- David R. Montgomery - Nature "The Planter of Modern Life is an inspiriting read in its entirety — the kind that restores your faith in the humans that make humanity." -- Maria Popova - The Marginalian "Mesmerizing. Abounding in wit, insight, elegance, and narrative talent, The Planter of Modern Life is at once terribly entertaining and subtly illuminating—rather like Bromfield himself, a man at ease in the most rarified Parisian gatherings and bumping along on a tractor on his Ohio farm. This original, ardent visionary of the American environmental future still has much to teach us." -- Victoria Johnson, author of American Eden "This is more than a sparkling biography; it’s a botanical adventure story of a full, plant-based bohemian life, following the journey of a modern Johnny Appleseed from Ohio to World War I France to Hollywood to our dinner plates." -- Michael W. Twitty, author of The Cooking Gene "The astounding tale of Louis Bromfield, a rare and accomplished figure who has vanished from collective memory, despite his importance to issues ranging from organic food to the ephemeral nature of fame. An engaging and fascinating book on many levels." -- Mark Kurlansky, author of Cod and Salt "If Stephen Heyman had written Louis Bromfield’s life as a novel, readers would have found the tale too tall to believe." -- Deirdre Bair, author of Parisian Lives "A brilliant, engaging read about the life of a literary icon and, until now, unrecognized founder of the organic movement." -- Dan Barber, chef of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, author of The Third Plate "I couldn’t put this book down. In this wonderful biography, Stephen Heyman pulls the curtain back so those of us who practically idolized this bigger-than-life soil spokesman can finally understand the complicated man behind the legend." -- Joel Salatin, founder of Polyface Farm, author of Folks, This Ain’t Normal "Heyman turns the story of this novelist, screenwriter, nonfiction author, and pioneering farmer into an utterly engrossing account of both his life and his times…[The Planter of Modern Life] is a biography of dual landscapes—literary and pastoral—as much as a chronicle of a man…An outstanding debut." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "In this delightful and exhilarating page-turner…Heyman does an impressive job of combining all of Bromfield’s interests into a cohesive narrative that captivates as both intriguing history and a significant look at early environmentalism." -- Booklist (starred review)