Buying the Farm: Peace and War on a Sixties Commune

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9781558499706: Buying the Farm: Peace and War on a Sixties Commune
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This book tells the story of Montague Farm, an early back-to-the land communal experiment in western Massachusetts, from its beginning in 1968 through the following thirty-five years of its surprisingly long life. Drawing on his own experience as a resident of the farm from 1969 to 1973 and decades of contact with the farm s extended family, Tom Fels provides an insightful account of the history of this iconic alternative community. He follows its trajectory from its heady early days as a pioneering outpost of the counterculture through many years of change, including a period of renewed political activism and, later, increasing episodes of conflict between opposing factions to determine what the farm represented and who would control its destiny.

With deft individual portraits, Fels reveals the social dynamics of the group and explores the ongoing difficulties faced by a commune that was founded in idealism and sought to operate on the model of a leaderless democracy. He draws on a large body of farm family and 1960s-related writing and the notes of community members to present a variety of points of view. The result is an absorbing narrative that chronicles the positive aspects of Montague Farm while documenting the many challenges and disruptions that marked its history.

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About the Author:

Tom Fels, a museum curator and writer, has for many years researched, written, and lectured on the history of the 1960s. His Farm Friends: From the Late Sixties to the West Seventies and Beyond (2008) received honorable mention for the Eric Hoffer Book Award in independent publishing.

Daniel Aaron, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of English and American Literature Emeritus at Harvard University, is the author of Writers on the Left and numerous other works on American history and culture.

Review:

Born in conflict, Montague Farm continued through decades of tortuous discordance, but left its mark in books, films, and music directly derived from it. . . . The scholarship in Buying the Farm could not be more sound and up to date. Tom Fels is well known for his meticulous care with such research, and this book makes a significant contribution to the study of this counterculture and its people. --Ray Mungo, author of Famous Long Ago: My Life and Hard Times with Liberation News Service

For today s young, the economic future is far more bleak, and global warming an unprecedented threat. Out of necessity, many will be searching for meaningful forms of communal self-sufficiency, healthful food, and renewable energy. Tom Fels captivating and profound reflection on one earlier commune, Montague Farm, founded in the 1960s, offers hard-learned reflections, some practical, some eternal, from a time when communes were the chosen path of many. Elegantly written. An informative and worthwhile read. --Tom Hayden, author of The Long Sixties

This insightful book is the thought-provoking, sobering history of Montague Farm, a small farm in western Massachusetts that survived from the communal movement of the Sixties into the twenty-first century. Using his insider s knowledge Tom Fels has skillfully painted a fascinating picture of how a group of activists brought their own individual idealism and idiosyncrasies from the city to experiment with anti-materialism in the country. For nearly four decades they tried to make their own lives more meaningful while acting as good stewards of the land. The experiment went awry, as many social experiments of that generation did, mainly through a collision of self-interests. Just as personality and human nature played a role in the birth of the commune, they also played a role in its dissolution. Although their back to the land project succeeded on an individual basis, it failed to discover a new way in which a larger society could work together in harmony. Did our generation of the Sixties come to realize that communal living and the rights of the individual could not coexist for long? The land itself remained the living witness to their struggles and the dreams of their youth. Fels has captured that paradox perfectly. --Bill Morgan, author of I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg and The Typewriter is Holy: The Complete, Uncensored History of the Beat Generation

His newly released book 'Buying the Farm' is an absorbing reflection on communal living. --iBerkshires.com

This insightful book is the thought-provoking, sobering history of Montague Farm, a small farm in western Massachusetts that survived from the communal movement of the Sixties into the twenty-first century. Using his insider s knowledge Tom Fels has skillfully painted a fascinating picture of how a group of activists brought their own individual idealism and idiosyncrasies from the city to experiment with anti-materialism in the country. For nearly four decades they tried to make their own lives more meaningful while acting as good stewards of the land. The experiment went awry, as many social experiments of that generation did, mainly through a collision of self-interests. Just as personality and human nature played a role in the birth of the commune, they also played a role in its dissolution. Although their back to the land project succeeded on an individual basis, it failed to discover a new way in which a larger society could work together in harmony. Did our generation of the Sixties come to realize that communal living and the rights of the individual could not coexist for long? The land itself remained the living witness to their struggles and the dreams of their youth. Fels has captured that paradox perfectly. --Bill Morgan, author of I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg and The Typewriter is Holy: The Complete, Uncensored History of the Beat Generation

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9781558499713: Buying the Farm: Peace and War on a Sixties Commune

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ISBN 10:  1558499717 ISBN 13:  9781558499713
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press, 2012
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