• The making of an agricultural classic: farmers of forty centuries or permanent agriculture in China, Korea and Japan, 1911-2011

    John Paull (see profile)
    Sustainability, Environmental conditions, Asia, History, China, Korea, Japan
    Item Type:
    ecological anthropology, agricultural history, Books, farming, Environmental history, Asian history
    Permanent URL:
    Few agriculture books achieve the status of 'classic'. F. H. King's book Farmers of Forty Centuries or Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea and Japan was privately published in Wisconsin, USA, in 1911. The book had an in-auspicious start, and the longevity and acclaim that this book has since achieved must have been, then, barely conceivable. The author was dead, the book was incomplete, and there was no commercial publisher. Yet through a com-bination of perhaps luck and circumstance the book was 'resurrected' in 1927 by a London publisher, Jonathan Cape, who then kept it in print for more than two decades. The London issue of King's book was favorably cited in the 1930s and 1940s by leading agriculture and or-ganic agriculture writers including: Lord Northbourne, Eve Balfour, Viscount Lymington, Al-bert and Louise Howard in Britain; Ehrenfried Pfeiffer in Switzerland; Jerome Rodale in the USA; and Stanton Hicks in Australia. These endorsements served to entrench King's book as a 'classic'. Jerome Rodale reintroduced the book to a US audience with an edition published by his Organic Gardening Press, c.1949. King's book arose out of his discontent with the views promulgated by the US Department of Agricul-ture (USDA), he differentiated the Asian agri-culture he encountered as 'permanent agricul-ture', he provided a detailed account of the an-cien régime organic agriculture of China, Korea and Japan, he called for a "world movement" for agricultural reform, and his book was been taken as a validation of the principles of organic agriculture. At least twenty six impressions of Farmers of Forty Centuries have been published in the past century; ten of these appeared dur-ing the first nine decades, while 16 have ap-peared in the past decade.
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    3 years ago


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