Notes from the Ground

Science, Soil, & Society in the American Countryside

Benjamin R. Cohen

View Inside Price: $35.00


September 6, 2011
288 pages, 5 7/8 x 9
29 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300177701
Paper

Also Available in:
Cloth

Notes from the Ground examines the cultural conditions that brought agriculture and science together in nineteenth-century America. Integrating the history of science, environmental history, and science studies, the book shows how and why agrarian Americans—yeoman farmers, gentleman planters, politicians, and policy makers alike—accepted, resisted, and shaped scientific ways of knowing the land. By detailing the changing perceptions of soil treatment, Benjamin Cohen shows that the credibility of new soil practices grew not from the arrival of professional chemists, but out of an existing ideology of work, knowledge, and citizenship.

Benjamin R. Cohen is assistant professor at Lafayette College.

"Notes from the Ground is the product of deep thought and careful research. It is written with concise and clever prose and contains lovely pictures and refreshing insights. It will surely be welcomed by scholars."—The Journal of American History

"Cohen contributes to the study of Virginia's agricultural development by documenting the increasingly specific knowledge that the gentlemen farmers of Washington, Jefferson, and Madison's times tried to foster. Using diaries, published writings, and private correspondence, Cohen recreates a geographical view of their efforts to come to grips with the changing agricultural panorama of the eastern United States."—Margaret W. Rossiter, American Historical Review

Notes from the Ground, by explaining how new technologies were evaluated and accepted in practice, transforms our understanding of antebellum Southern agriculture.”—David E. Nye, author of America as Second Creation

“Cohen takes readers back to the Early Republic to explore how people thought about land and production, ingeniously demonstrating how day-to-day labor in fields and barns led farmers to adopt and create their own scientific approaches. This crisp and clever book is closest in tenor and content to Steven Stoll’s Larding the Lean Earth, and expands upon it in important ways.”—Deborah Fitzgerald, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"Notes from the Ground encompasses the entire subject of science and the environment during the nineteenth century. Cohen writes with grace, clarity, and insight about the 'georgic science' of American farmers—a philosophy that resonates in the present, meant to 'reveal rather than conceal our connections to the land.'"—Steven Stoll, author of Larding the Lean Earth: Soil and Society in Nineteenth-Century America

"Cohen has uncovered a remarkable and little-known record of scientific activity."—Chemical Heritage

“Well organized, persuasively argued, and tightly documented…Impressive.”—Virginia Magazine

“A tightly argued, engaging, and important analysis.”—Technology and Culture

“A stimulating new interpretation of a well-chronicled moment in American agricultural history.”—Paul Sutter, Agricultural History

“A welcome addition to the debate on work and environments...[It] reflects Cohen’s valuable roots as a historian of science [and] treads ground familiar to environmental historians, making intriguing connections between nature as agent and the effects of georgic science in the nineteenth century.”—Hayley Goodchild, Environmental History

“Reading Notes from the Ground…is great fun – precisely because the book is challenging, thoughtful, and difficult.”—Journal of Southern History
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