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Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

One of Time magazine’s top ten nonfiction books of 2010.

In Brilliant, Jane Brox traces the fascinating history of human light from the stone lamps of the Pleistocene to the LEDs embedded in fabrics of the future—and reveals that the story of light is also the story of our evolving selves. As Brox uncovers the social and environmental implications of the human desire for more and more light, she captures with extraordinary intensity the feel of historical eras: the grit and difficulty of daily life during the long centuries of meager illumination when crude lamps and tallow candles constricted waking hours; and the driven, almost crazed pursuit of whale oil and coveted spermaceti across the world’s oceans. Read more
Clearing Land: Legacies of the American Farm
North Point Press/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A Best Book of the Year: Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Jane Brox twines two narratives, personal and historic, to explore the place of the family farm as it has evolved from the Pilgrims' brutal progress at Plymouth to the modern world, where much of our food is produced by industrial agriculture while the family farm is both marginalized and romanticized. In considering the place of the farm Brox traces the transformation of the idea of wilderness – and its intricate connection to cultivation – which changed as our ties to the land loosened. Exploring these strands with neither judgment or sentimentality, Brox arrives at something beyond a biography of the farm: a vivid depiction of the half-life it carries on in our collective imagination. Read more
Five Thousand Days Like This One: An American Family History
Beacon Press

1999 National Book Critics Circle Award finalist in nonfiction

When her father dies and leaves her to decide the fate of the family farm, Jane Brox wonders how family identity—language, food, a grandfather's wish for "five thousand days like this one"—can endure when so few traces of former lives are left. With a poet's eye and a historian's hunger, she is driven to search out her family's past in the fascinating and quintessentially American history of the Merrimack Valley, its farmers, and the immigrant workers caught up in the industrial textile age. Read more
Here and Nowhere Else: Late Seasons of a Farm and Its Family
North Point Press/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Winner of the 1996 L. L. Winship / PEN New England Award

After years of living away Jane Brox made the decision to return to the family farm of her birth, where her aging father still tended the crops. In this striking memoir of her reintroduction to the land and its habits, Brox captures the cadences of farm life and those who sustain it, at a time when the viability of both are waning. Read more