The Same Ax, Twice: Reviews

UPNE, ISBN: 1584651172


“The Same Ax, Twice is filled with insight and eloquence… a memorable, readable, brilliant book on an important subject. It is a book filled with quotable wisdom.”
The New York Times Book Review

“The Same Ax, Twice is one of those quiet books that foments revolution… Howard Mansfield has just the right combination of erudition and humor to challenge conventionally held ideas about historic preservation. Like In the Memory House, his wise 1993 exploration of the New Englander’s defining relationship with the past, The Same Ax, Twice ought to be on your bookshelf along with Wendell Berry and Noel Perrin.”
—William Morgan, ArchitectureBoston

“While our madcap economy urges us all to be consumers, Howard Mansfield urges us to be conservers—of buildings, inventions, folkways and spirit. He’s drawn to the sort of people he calls ‘Noahs,’ who work to preserve from extinction whatever is useful, beautiful or well-made, and he is such a man himself. If you’re weary of the trash and trivia that pass for culture in our day, if you suspect there’s much to be learned from the past, if you long to join in mending the broken world, then here’s a book that should delight you.”
—Scott Russell Sanders, author of Hunting for Hope and Staying Put.

“I know I will never think about any part of the past—including my own—in quite the same way ever again. Mansfield just blew me away with this truly remarkable, engaging and yes, inspirational piece of work.”
—Judson D. Hale, Sr., Editor, Yankee Magazine and The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

“Mansfield’s book teems with people chasing their deepest passions, with terrific stories and history seen from unlikely angles. His inquiry into the recreation and the often-doomed search for authenticity is ingenious and often profound. Skeptical, keen-eyed, and filled with wonder, he engages us from page one, and keeps us wholly attentive to his odd brand of believers.”
—Rosellen Brown, author of Before and After.

“In this examination of our past, the specific and local become universal. Howard Mansfield is an essayist who is equally adept at turning a phrase and telling a story.”
—Sue Hubbell, author of A Country Year and Waiting for Aphrodite.

“This study of continuity through renovation is both a lively museum of things remade and restored as well as a psychology of caring and keeping. Howard Mansfield holds our attention with radiant particulars and telling facts. Rarely has a writer made it so clear that technology is the surest strategy of the spirit.”
—Guy Davenport, author of The Geography of the Imagination.

“The Jewish concept of tikkun olam, or mending a broken world, weaves through New Hampshire preservationist Howard Mansfield’s latest literary effort. But this is not your average how-to or must-do exhortation. Mansfield presents a unique perspective on the meaning of preservation—This is a book about forgetting, about memory, about the craft of renewal and the renewal of craft and of care, time, silence and purpose in an age when what is old is too easily left behind. It is a book that, every so subtly, elevates small practices of preservation and remembrance, like collecting buttons, to the nobility of mending the world.”
New Age magazine.

“This beautiful, haunting work about people laboring to keep history’s spring flowing is highly recommended…”
Library Journal

“A cross between Tony Horwitz’s Confederates in the Attic and James M. Lindgren’s Preserving Historic New England, this volume delightfully investigates Americans’ penchant for fixing up old stuff… Our fixation with restoration, [Mansfield] concludes, has meaning beyond the idle fascination of rich folks with nothing better to do than fix up old trunks and sleigh beds. Rather, as his subtitle suggests, we find renewal in our reclaiming of objects from the past. ‘The best restorations,’ writes Mansfield, ‘are truly restorative.’ Reading this book is equally so.”
Publishers Weekly

“Howard Mansfield celebrates those who prefer to repair and restore things rather than destroy them or throw them away… [There are] gems of perception and wisdom… His deadly accurate parody of the 6 o’clock TV news, for example, is a brilliant portrait of the shallow, sensationalistic mentality that coarsens the sensibilities of viewers… Mansfield champions restoration as a way to help repair a troubled world. Recalling the teachings of 16th century Jewish Kabbalist Isaac Luria, Mansfield likens restorations, rightly done and done for the right reasons, to what Luria called Tikkun: mending the broken world by rituals, prayers, and moral actions. Mansfield suggests that we can also apply this spiritual principle to the material world of nature and objects.”
The Christian Science Monitor

“A lyrical and lively examination of the human instinct to preserve what’s best in life—a favorite old tool, a cherished building, our sense of community—told mostly through stories of fascinating Americans who have integrated pieces of the past into the present and future.”
Utne Reader