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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802119611
  • ASIN: B005DI6JE0
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #364,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The post-oil America Kunstler envisioned in A World Made by Hand (2008) proved intriguing enough to inspire a sequel, which, in turn, portends a longer series. Having established the parameters of a society bereft of government services, automobiles, public utilities, consumer goods, and computers, Kunstler writes with more finesse in this portrayal of a community of survivors in Upstate New York, an old-fashioned yarn of character-building confrontations between humans and the wild, outlaws and decent folks. Kunstler decries our refusal to face facts about our oil habit, dramatizes how quickly “the great thrumming engine of modernity” can be halted, and celebrates the benefits of living intimately with nature. But his social concerns never overburden the suspenseful, darkly amusing story, with its touches of the fantastic in the mode of Washington Irving, or undermine his seductive characters: plucky young Jasper, the doctor’s son; ludicrous bandit and psychopath Billy Bones; a sexy and accomplished witch; and the gruff leader of the bizarre and prosperous New Faith commune who possesses his own supernatural powers. Future installments will be eagerly anticipated. --Donna Seaman

Review

“In many ways [The Witch of Hebron] reminded me of Larry McMurty’s Lonesome Dove, set in the dystopian world of The Road. . . . By the middle of the book you are immersed in a richly imagined ‘world made by hand,’ eagerly devouring every page. . . . [Kunstler] has woven his nightmares into a vision or America after a complete economic, political, and cultural collapse.”—New York Journal of Books

"[A] suspenseful, darkly amusing story with touches of the fantastic in the mode of Washington Irving."--Booklist

"Kunstler's post-apocalyptic world is neither a merciless nightmare nor a starry-eyed return to some pastoral faux utopia; it's a hard existence dotted with adventure, revenge, mysticism, and those same human emotions that existed before the power went out."--Publishers Weekly

“Vividly drawn . . . [The Witch of Hebron] plays to Kunstler’s strength, which is his understanding of municipal infrastructure, so he can analyze the importance of what has been taken from people, how they cope, and just what is necessary for them to survive.”—Steve Goddard’s History Wire (online)



More About the Author

James Howard Kunstler is probably best known as the author of "The Long Emergency" (The Atlantic Monthly Press 2005), and "The Geography of Nowhere" (Simon and Schuster, 1993). Two other non-fiction titles in that series are "Home From Nowhere" (Simon and Schuster, 1996), and "The City in Mind" (Simon and Schuster, 2002). He's also the author of many novels, including his tale of the post-oil American future, "World Made By Hand" (The Atlantic Monthly press, 2008). The sequel will be published in the fall of 2010. His shorter work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic Monthly, Metropolis, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and many other periodicals.

James Howard Kunstler was born in New York City in 1948. He attended New York's High School of Music and art and SUNY Brockport (BA, Theater, 1971). He was a reporter for the Boston Phoenix, the Albany Knickerbocker News, and later an editor with Rolling Stone Magazine. In 1975 he dropped out of corporate journalism to write books, and settled in Saratoga Spring, New York, where he has lived ever since.

Kunstler's popular blog, Clusterf**k Nation, is published every Monday morning at www.kunstler.com and his weekly podcast, The KunstlerCast, is refreshed every Thursday.

Kunstler is also a serious professional painter. His work may be seen at www.kunstler.com

Customer Reviews

The characters are well developed and engaging, as are the story lines.
Eric L
Ultimately that means that there just isn't enough meat of the bones of the story for any of the minor plots that weave the book to be satisfying.
Benjamin Z. Cahan
These works transcend what we call the genre of post-apocalyptic fiction.
J. Bartlett

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 69 people found the following review helpful By David Reese on August 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This long-awaited novel, the sequel to "World Made By Hand," is a riveting read. Mr. Kunstler has always been a fine writer, as manifest in his well-known nonfiction such as "The Geography of Nowhere" and "The Long Emergency." "The Witch of Hebron" is the culmination of Mr. Kunstler's craft as a writer and social critic. The text flows like sweet honey with a lyricism that is breathtaking.

As a physician, there is one scene that particularly resonated with me: a boy, presumably a teenager though I don't believe his age is ever stated, performs an appendectomy under primitive circumstances in a remote farmhouse. Readers may believe that Kunstler has gone over-the-top with this scenario, that it could never happen in real life. Actually, this scene is completely authentic, compelling, and anatomically accurate to the smallest detail.

Could it ever happen, could a child observe surgeries performed by a parent nowadays, and sufficiently often to perform those surgeries by himself? Yes, it can and is happening. I know that for a fact because one of my colleagues often has his son in the operating room with him while operating at a major university hospital. I suspect the child's presence violates hospital rules but that doesn't stop the son from watching his father operate. The son will someday become a surgeon himself, exactly as the boy (Jasper) in Kunstler's imagined world.

There may be more verisimilitude to this scene than even Kunstler imagined when he wrote it.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By van eden on September 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It seems novelists aren't writing about the present as much. Perhaps because it takes such a long time to write a novel. Who wants to spend years writing a novel that's irrelevant by the time it's published. In the nineteenth century (think Tolstoy) novelists wrote about the past, because the present was too uneventful. In the twenty-first century writers look to the future because the present is too eventful. For us the present is last week.

The Witch of Hebron imagines a near future following a nuclear attack on Washington D.C. and Los Angeles that plunges American society back into the nineteenth century, where people have do for themselves. Set in the future it is all about the past. In this upside down world computer programmers are civic leaders, car dealers are religious leaders, butchers are heroic hermits. Characters are seen stoically adapting to an agrarian lifestyle with no electricity, no gas for their SUV's, no groceries not produced locally, no TV or radio, no convenience. If you want to get somewhere you have to walk or borrow a horse or mule.

If you find this notion of the future totally ominous, you would be wrong. The story is not about Jasper and his adventures on the road. The main character in this story is our planet slowly healing itself from the excesses of the Industrial Age. It is redolent with sensual and mythic detail. Trout schooling in clear streams. Songbirds singing in the greenery of healthy trees. The air is clean and sweet. And it is quiet. No TV. No traffic. No telephones. Cuisines are simple, aromatic and healthy. There is a strong sense of both solitude and community. Gradually, except for a few gratuitous scenes of rough justice, a feeling grows in the reader that this is not such a bad way to live.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Richard E. Thornton on November 9, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a fan of James Kunstler. I find myself usually in agreement with his critiques of our society as expressed on his web site. I wanted to like The Witch of Hebron, just as I wanted to like its predecessor, World Made By Hand.

Unfortunately, my disbelief was not suspended long enough to permit unreserved enjoyment. Rather than bring his great knowledge of present technology and its possible consequences for the future to these novels, he has chosen to give us Little House on the Prairie. We are asked to believe that in less than a decade urbane citizens of the 21st century are suddenly transformed into people who name their babies Jasper, converse like Chester to Matt Dillon and are skilled and comfortable at the plow behind their mule.

The causes of this sudden transformation are given as a disastrous Middle Eastern war, the back side of Peak Oil, the ascendency of China and terrorist attacks against major U.S. cities, all of which have already happened or could easily occur again. Kunstler's easy answer is a return to the 19th century, complete with a shortage of horses. I would be more receptive to a future exhibiting a gradual backsliding of our society with responses and alternatives and accommodations being made all along the way until some equilibrium is achieved.

Some combination of 19th, 20th and 21st centuries would seem more plausible to me. For instance, Jim Kunstler, a confessed cyclist, never mentions the bicycle in his post-disaster world. Horses and mules are in, bicycles are out. I feel sure the bicycle, a product of the 1800s, would still be manufactured in one form or another. The millions of bikes now extant could be maintained long into the future.
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