In this review article, Robert Netting's book, Smallholders, Householders. Farm Families and the Ecology of Intensive Sustainable Agriculture - the product of a lifetime of study and fieldwork by an American anthropologist, schooled in cultural ecology - is considered. The book, which is essentially about adaptations to population increase in different ecological contexts, is dedicated to the defence of smallholders against both Right and Left. It is seen as having some several excellent qualities, not least the relevance of its central stress on ecology: But it is criticised, inter alia, for its attempt to explain land tenure by land use rather than social struggle. The absence of any awareness of Narodnik ecological thought on the peasantry is noted. © 1995, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. All rights reserved.