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201 of 206 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Skills Your Grandparents Had, But You Probably Don't
Until I checked this book out of the library, I had rarely given a thought to getting "back to basics," that is learning how to be more self-sufficient. After I read the book, I soon bought it, because it opened my eyes to the many ways that I am almost entirely dependent upon others for my basic needs. "Back to Basics" is a helpful guide for those who want to get away...
Published on July 27, 2008 by David Bennett

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517 of 561 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good information, but unfocused (details)
This illustrated book has been published chiefly for those who are new to country living, and/or who have an interest in self-sufficiency and in retrieving some of the "lost arts" which are appurtenant to traditional country life. The information is mostly introductory and rudimentary... a good start for most folks new to these areas of interest.

I have lived...
Published on October 24, 2008 by Patrick W. Crabtree


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201 of 206 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Skills Your Grandparents Had, But You Probably Don't, July 27, 2008
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Until I checked this book out of the library, I had rarely given a thought to getting "back to basics," that is learning how to be more self-sufficient. After I read the book, I soon bought it, because it opened my eyes to the many ways that I am almost entirely dependent upon others for my basic needs. "Back to Basics" is a helpful guide for those who want to get away from it all and live totally independently on a farm, and even those like myself that live in town, but that want to become more self-sufficient, and less dependent on expensive fossil fuels and foods that someone else has raised or grown.

"Back to Basics" is a colorful, easy-to-understand encyclopedia of basic skills. There are hundreds of color photos, and most lessons are laid out step-by-step, making the concepts very easy to learn. The book is divided into six basic parts:

I. Land: Buying It - Building on it (how to choose land, build a home, develop a water supply, create a sauna, etc)

II. Energy from Wood, Water, Wind, and Sun (making your home more efficient, how to use wind energy, setting up a solar-powered house, etc)

III. Raising Your Own Vegetables, Fruit, and Livestock (how to properly grow all sorts of fruits, vegetables, and grains, how to farm fish, beekeeping, butchering an animal, etc)

IV. Enjoying Your Harvest Year Round (canning, preserving all kinds of foods, making cheese and wine, etc)

V. Skills and Crafts for House and Homestead (making natural dyes, weaving, woodworking, stenciling, soapmaking, making homemade perfumes, etc)

VI. Recreation at Home and in the Wild (camping, canoeing, kayaking, celebrating holidays, etc)

This book definitely has the potential to help all of us live more self-sufficiently, learning to do the things that our grandparents probably learned growing up. However, one possible drawback is that becoming self-sufficient takes a lot of work, and in the case of switching your home over to some type of alternative energy, a lot of money as well. Most readers are probably not going to have the land, time, and money to make some of the more significant changes suggested. However, the book still offers a lot for the rest of us, and at the least, educates us as to what it takes to live in a self-sufficient manner. Another possible drawback is that the book tries to squeeze a lot of information into 456 pages. This means that while you are getting a very concise, and surprisingly detailed, overview, you may need to consult more detailed sources if you need more help than what the book offers.

Overall, this is an interesting and useful book that offers practical ways to become more self-sufficient, something that is highly relevant in these times of rising energy and food prices. My family has already used some of the ideas, starting our first garden this year.
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517 of 561 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good information, but unfocused (details), October 24, 2008
This illustrated book has been published chiefly for those who are new to country living, and/or who have an interest in self-sufficiency and in retrieving some of the "lost arts" which are appurtenant to traditional country life. The information is mostly introductory and rudimentary... a good start for most folks new to these areas of interest.

I have lived in the foothills of rural Appalachia for 55 years and have been involved in carrying out nearly all the construction, activities, arts, and crafts found within this text. Some of the text, (along with the accompanying drawings and photos), is quite good. The information is solid and one can get started along the right track; however, the work goes astray (the publishers sort of "threw in the kitchen sink"), into areas which are not particularly relevant to traditional country living. The editors simply went too far afield when they got into topics such as "Winter Sports," "Kayaking and Rafting," "Foraging for Flour and Emergency Rations," and so on. Most of these subjects are tagged on at the end, I felt just to make the book longer, (it's plenty long enough at 456 pages!)

Additionally, on topics such as "Emergency First Aid," "Fly Fishing" (and fish identification), and "Recipes," there are obligatory sections, none of which are all that useful since these are subjects, any one of which could fill volumes. Had these areas of specific interest been omitted, the more appropriate topics could have been somewhat expanded, such as "Barn Building" or "Preserving Meat and Fish".

While there is quite a great deal of quality information in this Skyhorse Publishing Third Edition (2008) for those seeking a new or improved life in the rural countryside, I still feel that the editors strayed off-base to the point that I cannot heartily recommend the work.
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85 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of Basics..., May 20, 2008
This is simply the best reference book for self sufficient country living ever, bar none. From building to growing to conserving to preserving to raising animals to cooking... recreation, knitting, herbs, knots, quilting, cider, canoeing, candle making, soaps, blacksmithing, not to mention beer and wine making; and everything in between and extending from both ends - this book has it all. The table of contents only touches on what's contained. If you can think of it, this book probably has it. It is *the* encyclopedia of living the "basics."

At the end of the movie adaptation of H.G.Wells classic "The Time Machine", the main character escapes to the future where humanity has forgotten all basic knowledge and skills. The friends that he leaves behind discover that he has taken only three books with him, and we're left to wonderingly consider which three - and which three we might bring. This book would be one of my three. After all, what culture could survive long without beer, smoked meats, cheese and wine?
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good overview, December 16, 2008
This book provides a great overview of a lot of things, but doesn't get too much into the weeds. As the daughter of a contractor, I'll tell you that the book leaves a LOT out of building your own home. But I'd like to build a stone cottage some day, so i appreciate the ideas it offers. I'm not all the way through, but I like how they offer other books to read if you are interested in one specific activity, allowing you to gain more knowledge than the general overview the book provides. Good overview, but if you want to do something on your own, you're going to have to purchase a lot of specialty books in each area.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Place to Start Toward Sustainable Living, June 30, 2011
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This review is from: Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills (Back to Basics Guides) (Kindle Edition)
I have lived in a log cabin in the wilds both in my adolescent years and now as an adult with adult children of my own. So, I bought this book back in the early 80's when it was initially published by Reader's Digest Books. Not much by way of information has changed in it over the years, except now it is also available on the Kindle. I still have my hardcover copy from all of those years ago however, having a eBook version on hand is useful, too.

The book is meant to be inspiring mainly to those who dream of someday getting back to the land, living on their own homestead and making their own life off of the grid. All of the advice is very good toward that end, but it lacks the detail needed for anyone to benefit from in an actual homesteading set up. They don't tell you how hard it can be to undertake such ambitions even as everyone goes toward mores sustainable living.

The section on medicinal herbs is not nearly large enough. Putting food up after harvest could use some expension, too. But the book does do what it is intended to do and that is point those who would go for the natural life toward exploring more in depth and the hands on approach. I can tell you, after having lived in a log cabin most of my life that the section on log cabin construction and livig is nowhere near exhaustive. Keep reading and talk to other owners of log homes and ask them about the unique challenges about them! This book doesn't really have that kind of information.

I would recommend this book as a great place to start, but by no means don't stop after you have read this one and truly want to get back to basics.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Book, July 29, 2009
Hats off to the editors and publisher of this awesome collection of more traditional skills, some of which are fast fading into memory! The book begins with locating and fashioning the home itself, detailing how to dig footers and a well, raise a log home, build a fireplace and moves on to gardening and pruning.

The reader is also instructed in obtaining and maintaining food sources, such as geese, ducks and rabbits, as well as canning, pickling, salting and smoking foods for the coming winter ahead. The intricacies of braided rugs and patchwork quilts are explained, as well as the art of making moccasins, baskets, simple furniture, brooms, candles, soap and natural cosmetics. Learn how to spin your own wool and dye the fleece with dozens of natural dyes.

Although practice will certainly improve the reader's skills, there is enough information contained in this book to launch an individual in the wilderness or on a rustic farm with a good measure of success. This is a must read for those who embrace a more traditional lifestyle and is a real asset to one's permanent library.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't Improve Upon It, June 14, 2008
This book was published twice by Reader's Digest when there wasn't much demand for it. Skyhorse Publishing took it over and made enough "significant changes" to establish their own copyright over it. But the changes are just different pictures and rearranged pages!

This book is just about to come into its own due to the demise of oil and the Dollar. These are skills the general population must relearn. But the pre-oil generations are all gone.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book!, December 2, 2010
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My husband and I love this book. I was surprised at all the information in it. I left it sitting on the table and my husband stole it and was engrosed in the metal working part of it. The only thing that bothered me was how big the projects were. Great ideas but with expenses, I'm more looking for some cheap or free ways to get back to basics. Some of the tips and how to sections have me wanting to try basket weaving and solor power and stuff, so it's really neat to learn all this new/old stuff that has been forgotten in our modern world.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything you ever wanted to know..., March 29, 2009
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My parents had the first of edition of this book when we were kids. I remember being bored to tears and finding neat things to do from this book, like steeping rosemary to make a wonderful hair rinse for darker hair that added lots of luster to the hair and smelled wonderful.

If nothing else, this book can serve as a survival guide. It even has a section devoted to survival. It is amazing how much information is in this book!

If you ever wanted to know how to do a little bit of everything, this is the book for you. It permanently resides on my coffee table.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the do-it-yourself person. This is the book for you., January 12, 2009
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My husband is a green person. He installed solar panels in our Melbourne Florida home. We seem to be the only ones at the moment. He feels sort of like Noah when no believed him about the floods. We have rain collectors to water our plants. This book gives him great ideas to get back to basics. I recommend this book to everyone.
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