I didn't have time to actually read this, so this is not really a review, let alone a fair review. TIME: the early American republic, extending into the 1840s. PLACE: mostly Virginia, synechdochal for that republic. PLAYERS: the systematic farmers, and their silent interrogatory, the soil. THE ACTION: to use science to make farming a stouter support for the young nation.
Which, obviously, it did, although we also already know that it identified some problems and left them for later.
Consider the Georgic as an alternative to the Pastoral ideal. The Georgic, like the man with the stercorary himself, dreams of earning a comfortable life by hard, moral, sensible labor. (Is there a name for the urban idyll?) Still useful, still contested.
I did not finish this because I am having a field season of my own, so I was pleased to skim past this, in a discussion of the first complete map of Virginia:
Fatigue, privation, and roadless miseries are classic problems of field scientists. But to establish a viable survey system one had to acquire information from the field and incorporate it into a presentable report at the home base, a process that gave no attention to the work of the assistants, or their travails...
Find in a Library: Notes from the Ground