Thank the gods of agriculture for James Rebanks ... We experience that esoteric life through Rebanks’s evocative storytelling ... Rebanks is generous with his descriptions, and patient in explaining the choices farmers make every day that will decide the fate of rural communities and the planet itself ... Rebanks shows clearly that hope hinges on who exactly is willing to pay the real price of food and good farming.
Superbly written and deeply insightful, the book captivates the reader until the journey’s end ... Mr. Rebanks’s arguments are cogent and rational: He warms to each of his themes without boiling over and resorting to hot-headed stridency ... The book is at its most compelling when it revolves around the author and his 'journey' ... Lyrical flourishes routinely enrich Mr. Rebanks’s prose ... Pastoral Song is a lament for lost traditions, a celebration of a way of living and a reminder that nature is 'finite and breakable'. Mr. Rebanks hits all the right notes and deserves to be heard.
'Do we want a countryside that is entirely shaped by industrial-scale cheap food production with some little islands of wilderness dotted in amongst it, or do we, in at least some places, also value the traditional landscape as shaped by traditional family farms?' Pastoral Song...compels us to grapple with that question, and it is, if anything, even more urgent and eloquent than its predecessor ... a wide-ranging defense of traditional farming grounded in history and biology ... Rebanks is neither a philosopher nor a Jeffersonian agrarian idealist. A product of centuries of righteous peasant judgment, he speaks with blunt, unmatched authority. He is also a fine writer with descriptive power and a gift for characterization. Pastoral Song is full of memorable portraits of his children, parents, and grandparents ... Rebanks does not balk at confronting readers with the brutality of all farming, and, by extension, human existence[.]