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When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency, 2nd Edition Paperback – August 18, 2008


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When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency, 2nd Edition + When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival + How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 493 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing; 2nd edition (August 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933392452
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933392455
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (166 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Review From John Egan, proprietor of the website SurvivalistBooks.com-
Matthew Stein has written a clear, concise book on the subject of survival that, while educating, also does what few others have managed to do - entertain and engage the reader. Throughout the book you'll find personal stories accompanying the text to further illustrate or drive home a point. The use of these asides brings you into Matthew Stein's life, as he recounts personal stories of survival and tells the stories of others who have managed to overcome the odds to survive. Not just a survival book, Matthew also covers topics like alternative therapies; how to create a survival mindset; survival strategies; renewable energy; companion gardening; prophecies etc. as well as all the regular topics found in such books - edible plants; first aid; making a survival kit; growing, hunting and foraging; making tools; creating shelters; spinning/weaving/tanning etc. The book has some great illustrations that make plant identification and first aid that much easier to understand and each chapter finishes with a reference section listing books (along with a short review) and resources (with web addresses where available).




"This book is an indispensable basic manual for the real-life issues that await us in the decades to come. Those who read it, and pay attention to its treasure trove of practical wisdom, will enjoy a huge advantage as the cheap oil fiesta winds down and circumstances compel us to live differently."--James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency



"You don't need to be a survivalist to appreciate this book. If you are thoughtful. If you seek a simpler, more sustainable life or if you feel as though technology has already failed us in the ways that matter, this is a book you want in your personal library."--Kathy Harrison, author of Just In Case: How to Be Self-Sufficient When the Unexpected Happens




"We imagine that we live in the age of information, but this engrossing book reminds us of how comparatively little we know. Most human communities used to know how to provide water and food and energy for themselves, but most of the tips in this comprehensive account will come as news to most Americans. You may never need to put them into practice (or you may need them this winter when home heating prices soar) but at the very least they illuminate the state of our comparative ignorance."--Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy




"If you've been wondering about how to respond to the twin dangers of peak oil and global warming, one of your best choices would be to read this book."--Greg Pahl, author of The Citizen-Powered Energy Handbook: Community Solutions to a Global Crisis



"A fascinating collection of concepts and skills that will satisfy everyone from the casual do-it-yourself enthusiast to someone who wants to attempt self-reliance and the ultimate emergency preparedness."--Howard Backer, MD, author of Wilderness First Aid: Emergency Care for Wilderness Locations and past president of the Wilderness Medical Society




"I have no children because I read M. King Hubbert's analyses on the future of oil and other fossil fuels in 1969, and Limits to Growth shortly thereafter. It was clear to me then and in every year since that our whole economy, and all of our economic principles, were based on cheap oil that would not last. The reason that economists could get away with criticizing Hubbert and LTG as well promoting their basically absurd theories that often disregarded and even belittled natural resources was that, in fact, more oil could be pulled out of the ground to make ANY economic theory or policy work, no matter how stupid. Now that the oil spigot is sputtering the economists' theories and policies are increasingly shown to be failures. We need a whole new way to think about how we do our economies. In the spirit of the old Whole Earth Catalogues Matt Stein does a marvelous and diverse job of helping us to think about how we might go about generating an approach to our economies that can make sense. This is a great book to have on your bookshelf as we enter the post-peak second half of the age of oil."--Professor Charles A.S. Hall, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry




"When Technology Fails is the roadmap that you want and need to navigate whatever may lie ahead."--John L. Chunta, PeakOilResources.com



"We may all need a survival reference when technology fails. Matthew provides one--fact-filled, with useful tips on all aspects of survival, clothing, food, shelter, water, etc., including such vital subjects as grazing and the green pharmacy."--James A. Duke, economic botanist, USDA (ret.), and author of The Green Pharmacy



"A marvelous guidebook for helping us through the worst of times, and even improving on the best of times."--Thom Hartmann, syndicated radio host and author of The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight



"When the grid goes down, having this book with you could be the difference between life and death."--Matt Savinar, author of Life After the Oil Crash



"Stein's excellent guide to simplifying your life, reducing your environmental impact, and pulling yourself out of a jam is sure to gather no dust on your bookshelf... This book is a personal and planetary empowerment tool."--Richard Heede, Ph.D., author, Homemade Money: How to Save Energy and Dollars in Your Home




"I liked this book. It's carefully researched, comprehensive, well illustrated, and readable. It presents much needed alternate information, for, in my opinion, technology has already 'failed' ...So replacement of polluting 'high' technologies with non-polluting 'low' ones is urgent, and Matthew Stein's handbook systematically and accurately surveys a wide array of possible low-tech options. Much hard work, time, and talent went into the building of this basic reference survey of low-tech options."--Carla Emery, author, The Encyclopedia of Country Living: An Old-Fashioned Recipe Book




"When Technology Fails is a massive project done well. First the book gives a superb presentation of WHY one should be more aware and prepared--and then HOW one should go about this. The scope of this book... is thorough. Not only is the information presented well, but a solid bibliography can carry the student as far as he desires in any particular area of interest."--John McPherson, author, Primitive Wilderness Living and Survival Skills







"Matthew Stein has done us all a tremendous favor by searching far and wide for useful knowledge. In this era of specialization, personal and social viability depend on expansive thinking. When Technology Fails is itself a powerful expression of the technology of sustainable living. It teaches more skills than I thought possible in just one book and rightly combines the immediacy of an emergency escape plan with the urgency for long-term thinking."--Mathis Wackernagel, Executive Director of the Global Footprint Network



"When Technology Fails is a comprehensive guide and compendium of the tools society will require as it reaches the convergence of hyper-inflation, oil depletion, and environmental limitations; in other words, at the point where technology fails."--William Kemp, author of The Renewable Energy Handbook



"When Technology Fails. . . Like that's some sort of unlikely future possibility! Technology is always failing while people stand around befuddled about what to do. With Mat Stein's book, when push comes to shove, you can be your own veritable MacGyver. Not only does it provide us with the information we need to plan for, and deal with, potential emergencies and disasters, it also shows us how we can live more sustainably and self-reliantly in today's world of climate change and gas prices that are going through the ceiling. This is the sort of ingenuity for which Americans have been famous. When Technology Fails is to the mechanical world what Joy of Cooking is to the world of cooking. In other words, the encyclopedia every home should have on hand. Keep it right next to the emergency flashlight and your Swiss Army knife."--David Blume, permaculturist and author of Alcohol Can Be A Gas!



"Whether you are seeking self-reliance and a simpler life or fear the collapse of social services, this compendium of practical information for sustainable living belongs on your bookshelf..."--Fred C. Walters, editor, Acres U.S.A. magazine




"The depth of this book, covering everything from building materials to spiritual healing, is astounding. It is a one-stop source... to create a self-sufficient, earth-friendly lifestyle. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in preserving the health of themselves and the planet--and moving toward a sustainable, sane way of living."--Robyn Griggs Lawrence, editor-in-chief, Natural Home magazine




"Matthew Stein gives us a readable, updated wake-up call for sustainability practices in the best tradition of Paul Ehrlich, Lester Brown, and Jared Diamond."--Stephen Schneider, Ph.D., Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies at Stanford University and coordinating lead author in IPCC summary papers on climate change



"In this age of over-consumption, truth is lost in a myriad of commercialized details. Matthew Stein picks up and assembles these shattered shards, and by examining each in the meticulous manner of a crime scene investigator, offers valuable insight and practical tools to survive in a world at the brink of chaos. In doing so, he helps maintain sanity in a time of hardening denial about the state of the world--and helps throw open the door to Plato's Cave where so many of us remain uncomfortably shackled."--Peter Droege, author of The Renewable City and Urban Energy Transition

From the Publisher

Dear Editor:

We are pleased to submit WHEN TECHNOLOGY FAILS: A Manual for Self Reliance & Planetary Survival, by Matthew Stein, for your review.

No home is complete without this essential resource. M.I.T. graduate Matthew Stein spent 15 years compiling the information for When Technology Fails. This easy-to-use manual is designed for self-reliant living in today's changing world.

As we begin the 21st Century, the rapidly expanding world population is quickly depleting the available natural resources and fossil fuel supply while increasing the demand for basic human needs-food, shelter, clothing and energy. This combined with the current worldwide infrastructure dependent on instant global communication and next-day distribution grids means that any disruption of the norm due to technology breakdowns, weather patterns, solar spots, techno-terrorism or natural upheavals can create massive disruptions to daily life.

When Technology Fails is the first book to offer basic instructions and recommended resources for the wide range of skills and technologies necessary for self-reliant living, achieving mastery of all kinds of emergency conditions, and treading lighter on Mother Earth. When Technology Fails is a user-friendly manual for the 2lst Century in the tradition of the Whole Earth Catalog.

We hope you enjoy reading this important book and can recommend it to your readers.

Thank you

Harmon Houghton
Publisher --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


More About the Author

Author, engineer, designer, and green builder, Mat Stein was born and raised in Burlington Vermont. His parents started him walking on skis at age three, hiking at age 5, backpacking at age seven, hunting at age 10, rock climbing and extreme skiing at age 11. The Green mountains of Vermont, White mountains of New Hampshire, and the Adirondack's of upstate New York were his four-season childhood play grounds. After graduating from MIT in 1978, the lure of the "real mountains" of the west drew Mat across the country to California.

Always enjoying work with his hands, and being outside in the wilderness, Mat found it stifling to go to work as a design engineer in Silicon Valley, pushing pencils day after day. So, he took breaks from engineering off-and-on for several years to be a carpenter, climb the vertical walls of Yosemite, and teach skiing and High School math. In the mid eighties, after lots of stress and lost hair, he bailed from designing disc drives in Silicon Valley to a ten-acre homestead in the foothills of the Sierras. Mat has built hurricane and earthquake resistant, energy efficient, environmentally friendly homes. He has also designed, among other things, consumer water filtration devices, solar PV roofing panels, medical bacteriological filters, emergency chemical drench systems, computer disk drives, and portable fiberglass buildings.

A thirty year interest in alternative healing got its start while Mat was still a freshman at MIT, after he witnessed the miraculous remote healing of a crippled friend (big shake up to his scientific "Billiard Ball Theory of the Universe" way of thinking). Over the years, this interest expanded to the use of herbs, homeopathy, and other alternatives to heal medical conditions that weren't responding to western style medicine.

Eventually he and his wife Josie wandered farther into the mountains to Truckee, where have their current home in the High Sierra Mountains of California (Truckee is where the Donner Party had their infamous barbecue about 150 years ago). About a decade back, they took a three year break from the deep Sierra snows to build energy efficient and environmentally friendly homes on Maui. The engineer, carpenter, and backwoodsman sides of Mat found peace, harmony, and synergy through renewable energy, green building, and self-reliance. Today, Mat owns and operates Stein Design and Construction, providing product design services, engineering analysis, and green building.

It was a true epiphany that started Mat firmly on the path of self-reliance, emergency prep, and sustainability. Around Thanksgiving of 1997, during his morning session of prayer and meditation, in answer to a simple request for "guidance and inspiration", Mat received a fully developed "story board" type of pictorial outline that popped into his head instantaneously. It was the outline for a massive handbook to help people be more self-reliant, live more sustainably, and prepare to weather the coming storms as we pass through this age of uncertainty and change. After three years of work, this "cosmic download" crystallized into his first book, When Technology Fails.

Mat still enjoys playing around in the vertical world of rock walls, though since suffering (and recovering from) a serious injury in a 50 foot ground fall (gravity sucks!) he no longer "pushes the envelope" quite like he used to. Wintertime finds Mat volunteering as a guide and cross country ski instructor for the blind with the Sierra Regional Ski for Light program.

For more information, see www.whentechfails.com and www.matstein.com

Customer Reviews

This book is full of good information.
Nicklez
As things continue to go downhill in this economy, so that we need to become self-sufficient, this is one book I KNOW I will rely on!
betsy3b
On the plus side, the book is a very complete introduction to these topics, and it is well-written and easy to read.
M. Broderick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

345 of 358 people found the following review helpful By EmBee on February 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a great book about preparing for short-term societal or environmental crises - how to conserve water when the water's not running (after a hurricane, say), how to stay warm and safe when the ice-storm of the century wipes out your natural gas and electricity, or an earthquake shakes your house down around your ears in the middle of the night.
The true beauty of this book is the wealth of information for longer-term "doing without," or slow erosion of a situation of plenty we now take for granted. Here is information on dealing with medical problems when no doctor is forthcoming, growing food organically and with your own saved seed, how you might store food over the winter with no refrigerator.
If we lost the luxury of the machines that run our world, would we find ourselves back in the stone age, having lost the knowledge handed down for generations beyond count of how to shelter, clothe, feed and doctor ourselves? These skills are all touched on in this book, with voluminous resource lists so that the reader can learn more about any of these subjects.
Technology, too, is given its due - renewable energy sources like solar and wind are discussed and the best water filters on the market.
Change is coming. That's apparent. If you're worried, wary - this is a good book, a jumping-off place to learn skills you may some day be very thankful for, or at least gather a library of relevant information against the day when it is needed. Survivalist paranoia not required.
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130 of 139 people found the following review helpful By John on October 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
Matthew Stein has written a clear, concise book on the subject of survival that, while educating, also does what few others have managed to do - entertain and engage the reader.
Throughout the book you'll find personal stories accompanying the text to further illustrate or drive home a point. The use of these asides brings you into Matthew Stein's life, as he recounts personal stories of survival and tells the stories of others who have managed to overcome the odds to survive.
Not just a survival book, Matthew also covers topics like alternative therapies; how to create a survival mindset; survival strategies; renewable energy; companion gardening; prophecies etc. as well as all the regular topics found in such books - edible plants; first aid; making a survival kit; growing, hunting and foraging; making tools; creating shelters; spinning/weaving/tanning etc.
The book has some great illustrations that make plant identification and first aid that much easier to understand and each chapter finishes with a reference section listing books (along with a short review) and resources (with web addresses where available).
This book is supposed to have been 15 years in the making - and the time and effort taken by the author to research his topic really shows. When Technology Fails belongs in your survival library - as the publisher says, "it's a user-friendly manual for the 21st Century".
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537 of 605 people found the following review helpful By K. Rule VINE VOICE on April 18, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Most of this book is very good. It is a good survey of many issues related to self-sufficiency. It has great references that make it easier to find the materials needed for a more in-depth understanding of most of the topics.
However, I had the feeling while reading the book was that it was written by Abby (Dharma's mother from Dharma & Greg). Great, pragmatic information is tainted with pseudo-science nonsense and newage garbage. Most of which is harmless, but some of it may be downright dangerous.
For example, there is a half page editorial on the moral issues of hunting followed some pages later by a long discussion of tanning. There is a story of how blessing water turned undrinkable swill into sweet healing water. There's enough folk and eastern medical advice to make your head swim.
If you believe everything you read, this probably isn't the book for you. However, if you can discern the likely from the silly, you might find this book useful.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
The content of this book is diverse and well researched. One of the strengths of this books is the vast amount of information it covers in an easily accessible way. It is like a tour through many alternatives to our traditional technological solutions. It gives you a view into such topics as low-tech healing, alternative shelters, power, heating, effective methods for growing food, tool making, and much, much more. If you need to know more about any particular topic you will find an abundance of references at the end of chapter.
The title "When Technology Fails" does not seem to fit the content well. The book does have a few sections on emergency preparation, procedures, and first-aid, but that is clearly not the heart of this book. It is also not an anti-technology book. It is full of technological solutions, however they are low-tech and earth friendly technologies. This book is much more about our future and how we can live using much more earth friendly and sustainable practices. Chapter 2, "Present Trends, Possible Futures," is a MUST read for everyone. Stein shows the reader, very clearly, how we can all still live in relative comfort AND dramatically reduce our impact on the environment.
The book is very well written with many examples and illustrations to highlight his teachings. Its is also a fun read, which is unusual for a "how to" manual. There are many beautiful and powerful quotes and several ideas that will challenge your thinking. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.
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