An Italian Journey

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 June, 2012, 12:00am


An Italian Journey
by James Ernest Shaw
Amazon Digital Services

The organisation World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms will benefit from James Ernest Shaw's many references to it in this book, which is a combination of travel writing, memoir and hagiography. Shaw left his farm in Wisconsin to cycle around Tuscany looking for what he wanted to see: salt-of-the-earth Italians living off the land in the way their forebears have done for generations. He looked for, and found, the kind of Italians E.M. Forster loved: those 'more marvellous than the land'. Readers will learn much about olive cultivation (interesting) and hear Shaw's opinions on everything from petroleum farming to religion (boring, at least the way the subject is broached). Shaw also philosophises about modern-day excesses and the untenable manipulation of nature (evoking US marine biologust and conservationist Rachel Carson). Tuscany gave Shaw hope and underscored his belief that the food we grow influences the people we become. But An Italian Journey would have been a better read if he had not stepped up to the pulpit.