Book Review

The Way Home: Tales from a Life Without Technology

The Way Home by Mark Boyle

The Way Home: Tales from a Life Without Technology

Mark Boyle is an Irish thinker and writer who made the choice in his thirties to disengage from the industrial civilization of England and move to a small abandoned holding in the west of Ireland.He built and rebuilt the tumbledown structures there doing without fossil energy tools like tractors and saws and electricity, electric lights and running water and by extension no television, radio, telephone,internet or any digital toys. Some years previously he had spent three years trying out a life entirely devoid of using money. He wrote a book on that subject called the Moneyless Man but this move to living a life without all the so called modern conveniences of a technological civilization was an attempt to recreate his life around life’s basic necessities as experienced by the rural Irish of the late 19th early 20th century. He wanted to experience an existence close to and within nature growing and foraging for his food, hauling his own water from a spring and cooking his food over a rocket stove and a wood range using firewood he hauled and split himself by hand in a modest home hewed also by hand.
The book has great value in his detailed telling of the tasks of his daily existence living far from the madding crowd by the sweat of his brow. Mark is very literate and well read and his book is sprinkled with quotations from the likes of Also Leopold, Edward Abbey, Wendel Berry and Walt Whitman . He lives or lived with Kirsty, fine spirited and sociable young woman to whom the book is dedicated, a woman who loved to dance, often with her eyes shut.
A significant part of the book relates the experiences of a community who lived for almost two hundred years on the Blasket Islands, just off the southwest Irish coast who until 1953 lived a life of basic self sufficiency which Boyle clearly admires and emulates. Their community of 175 people eventually dissolved under the onslaught of industrial scale commercial fishing and the lure of urbanization especially to the young.
I waffled on whether to give the book a 4 or 5 star rating. His writing style is 3 or 4 star but the content and story he tells has 5 star value beyond a doubt because this book is a preview of what many of us will be living sometime as early as this century. There is certainly a long term future for living as Mark Boyle does, close to nature not utilizing the energy from a fossil fuel powered civilization which will never be replaced by the chimera of so called renewable energy once the coal pits close and the finite oil and gas reservoirs deplete as they will someday.
Mark Boyle feels very strongly about what he does and why he does it and to some readers this may be interpreted as dogmatic and ideological but he shows the how and why of the tasks involved of living with the basics of human existence. Most people who live a safe dopamine besotted technological urban existence of quiet desperation would flee from the hard physical lifestyle of Mark Boyle. Little do they know how fragile and precarious their own lifestyle really is.


Published by Rendezvous Mountain Farm

I was born in Cascade county Montana and raised in a dozen Air Force SAC bases. I attended Holy Cross,West Point and UNC in Chapel Hill(MD"71). Army doc in the last years of the Viet Nam fiasco. My wife and I live in a log cabin I built from standing dead lodgepole trees we cut from Shadow Mountain and regional local timber in 1976 . I've done a dozen different jobs including construction, boat building,magazine writing and commercial fishing and retired from the Emergency and Operating Room in 2004. We manage a small diversified organic farm including leased land which totals about 40 acres in the Jackson Hole valley. We raise a variety of livestock which includes some heritage breeds of animals and poultry. We grow most of our food and forage. Our land is irrigated from Granite Creek and the Snake River and we raise and bale our own organic hay. We supplement with food collected from Jackson Hole Food rescue which is mostly dairy, bread and past date vegetables and food from the grocery stores and restaurants.

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