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August 18, 1996|CHARLES SOLOMON

MAPPING THE FARM: The Chronicle of a Family by John Hildenbrand (Vintage: $13, 252 pp., illustrated). Hildenbrand traces the shifting fortunes of his in-laws' farm in Minnesota and, with them, the rise and fall of the small farm in America. Since the end of WWII, a combination of higher costs, rising land values, falling prices and the growth of agribusiness has squeezed many family farms out of existence.

Hildenbrand's descriptions of their efforts to keep the land in production, despite bids from developers, puts a human face on the ongoing farm crisis: "Land itself can never be lost, only transformed; what is slipping away, day by day, is the meaning that connects us to it."

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