The Planter of Modern Life

Stephen Heyman


Learn how a leading writer of the Lost Generation became America's most famous farmer and inspired the organic food movement!

Louis Bromfield was a World War I ambulance driver, a Paris expat, and a pulitzer Prize-winning novelist as famous in the 1920s as Hemingway or Fitzgerald. But he cashed in his literary success to finance a wild agrarian dream in his native Ohio. The ideas he planted at his utopian experimental farm, Malabar, would inspire America's first generation of organic farmers and popularize the tenets of environmentalism years before Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.

In 1938, Bromfield returned to Ohio to transform 600 badly eroded acres into a thriving cooperative farm, which became a mecca for agricultural pioneers and a country retreat for celebrities like Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall (who were married there in 1945). 

This sweeping biography unearths a lost icon of American culture. Through it all he fought for an agriculture that would enrich the soil and protect the planet. While Broomfield's name has faded into obscurity, his mission seems more critical today than ever before.

Copyright 2020. 352 pages. Hardcover. 

Praise for The Planter of Modern Life

"A brilliant, engaging read about the life of a literary icon and, until now, unrecognized founder of the organic movement."

– Dan Barber, chef of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, author of The Third Plate

"I couldn't put this book down. In this wonderful biography, Stephen Heyman pulls the curtain back so those of us who practically idolized this bigger-than-life soil spokesman can finally understand the complicated man behind the legend."

– Joel Salatin, founder of Polyface Farm, author of Folks, This Ain't Normal

About the Author

Stephen Heyman has written for the New York Times, Slate, Vogue, and many other publications. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Leon Levy Center for Biography and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He lives in Pittsburgh. 

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