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Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America

by Nick Rosen

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The grid is everywhere, sending power to the light switch on the wall and water to the faucet in the kitchen. But is it essential? Should we depend on it and the giant corporate structure behind it? With energy prices soaring, the housing market in shambles, financial institutions collapsing, and unemployment hovering at devastating highs, up to a million Americans have already freed themselves from dependence on the utility companies. More are joining the movement every day.

In OFF THE GRID: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America (Penguin Original; On-Sale: August 2010; ISBN 978-0-14-311738-4; $15.00) award-winning documentary filmmaker and part-time off-gridder, Nick Rosen, takes readers on a fascinating and complex journey through a seemingly simple lifestyle. Nick traverses the US, encountering both luxury hideaways and harsh environs, to investigate the growing trend for off-the-grid living. His adventures take him from one overlooked part of the country to another, in rented cars that often double as hotels and on public transit when his subjects demand it. He spends time with all sorts of individuals and families striving to live the lives they want— bathing in hot springs, forgoing municipal power and amenities—in the ultimate search for freedom from government and its far-reaching grasp.

In the book, Nick is always asking why the individuals he meets have chosen this life, and comes up with a wide range of surprising and often comical answers.

The people featured in OFF THE GRID, as within the movement at-large, are not always the into-to-the-wild recluses that one might expect, although a few such are profiled, including the rustic character made popular through Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Last American Man and gun-toting novelist Carolyn Chute as well as cult author Alan Weisbecker. To the contrary, many of those living off-the-grid have built communities of like-minded people, often families with young children who are committed to helping one another. There are groups of devoted environmentalists who see this lifestyle as the only responsible way to counteract the massive energy consumption prevalent in ordinary American life. Others live this way rather unexpectedly, after finding urban and suburban lifestyles in conflict with their personal ethics, and still others were forced into their situations by economic factors beyond their control.

The colorful characters that populate OFF THE GRID are incredibly diverse. But what they do have in common is their understanding of how tenuous their unique situation is and the effort and determination required to maintain it. In the modern era, when Americans and the world in general are pushing towards greater connectivity and development, they are struggling to hold onto what they have—and often fighting back against the authority they wish to escape. Although the stories of these alternative lives are varied, all are truly incredible.


Nick Rosen is an award winning documentary maker, journalist, and broadcaster. Born and based in London, he has often lived and worked in the US. Over the past two decades he has been a Teaching Assistant at the Georgetown University Philosophy Department, a journalist in San Francisco and a documentary filmmaker in New York. Nick is an off-grid expert, editing the website, and since 1994 has been off the grid part-time.


By Nick Rosen

Penguin Paperback Original / August 2010

$15.00 / ISBN 978-0-143-11738-4

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