Book Review: The Last of the Husbandmen – Gene Logsdon

Reviews of
The Last of the Husbandmen
By Gene Logsdon

[From TIM BATES, Philo Apple Farm: Join Dan and Tim this Monday Nov. 22nd at 1:00 KZYX for another fun, lively, and sobering discussion with Gene Logsdon–ye old Contrary Farmer himself. Still raging against the machineries that keep rural people from realizing their potential as vital parts of American society. Gene now hosts a blog site  — The Contrary Farmer — with well over a hundred postings carrying forward the conversation. Gene’s books include All Flesh is Grass, Good Spirits, The Pond Lovers, and most recently a novel, The Last of the Husbandmen — which will be a focal point of the show. All topics are fair game and nothing is sacred.]

“In The Last of the Husbandmen—as in everything Gene Logsdon writes — wit is the nurse crop to wisdom. With a conclusion as comical as it is hopeful, this latest book is equal parts entertainment and enlightenment—just what we’ve come to expect from Mr. Logsdon.”

Michael Perry — author of Truck: A Love Story

“Gene Logsdon remains as true–to–form in his fiction as he does in his non–fiction.… this book was maybe as valuable a read as any of his books, not for the instruction, but for scope and perspective on a life lived ‘tied down’ to a place.”

The Englewood Review of Books

“One finds humor, hijinx aplenty, and even romance, but it would be a mistake to overlook the serious implications of The Last of the Husbandmen. Aptly subtitled A Novel of Farming Life, the novel at times reads like a narrative of American agriculture in the decades following World War II.”

Rich Tomsu, Rich Gardens Organic Farm

“The Last of the Husbandmen proves quite entertaining, especially for anyone who has ever spent much time on a farm.… (Logsdon) covers many of the issues so important to Ohio farmers during that period, including the consolidation of rural school districts, the competition for shrinking agricultural land, inheritance taxes, overproduction, and even organic agriculture, while never losing the human element in the story.”

Mansfield News Journal

“Logsdon writes about contemporary farming issues with quaint elegance, good humor and rich detail in this novel set in the rustic village of Gowler, Ohio.… A few lively subplots … help to propel Logsdon’s narrative about a disappearing way of life.”

Publishers Weekly

“The Last of the Husbandmen reads like a parable. Emmet is the grasshopper, fiddling with crazy schemes that lead to disaster. Ben is the ant, steady and industrious, storing away the fruit of his labors to keep him happy and warm all winter.… This uplifting book had a few surprises.… Logsdon pulls out all the stops for a drunken funeral that would do Lake Wobegon proud.”

Dayton Daily News

“The characters in Gene Logsdon’s The Last of the Husbandmen hear a song the modern ear cannot hear. Yes, this fascinating story suggests, you must listen closely, but maybe, just maybe, the music will play on.”

Steve Zender, publisher — The Progressor Times

“Nan turned to see Ben’s face turn as hard and white as a sauerkraut crock. When he did not respond, Nan figured that he was just going to back off as he usually did, the shy and retiring husbandman. She did not know her history. She did not know that shy and retiring husbandmen have been known to revolt against oppression with pitchforks drawn.”
— The Last of the Husbandmen

In The Last of the Husbandmen, Gene Logsdon looks to his own roots in Ohio farming life to depict the personal triumphs and tragedies, clashes and compromises, and abiding human character of American farming families and communities. From the Great Depression, when farmers tilled the fields with plow horses, to the corporate farms and government subsidy programs of the present, this novel presents the complex transformation of a livelihood and of a way of life.

Two friends, one rich by local standards, and the other of more modest means, grow to manhood in a lifelong contest of will and character. In response to many of the same circumstances—war, love, moonshining, the Klan, weather, the economy—their different approaches and solutions to dealing with their situations put them at odds with each other, but we are left with a deeper understanding of the world that they have inherited and have chosen.

Part morality play and part personal recollection, The Last of the Husbandmen is both a lighthearted look at the past and a profound statement about the present state of farming life. It is also a novel that captures the spirit of those who have chosen to work the land they love.