“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.