Customer Review

530 of 573 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good information, but unfocused (details), October 24, 2008
This review is from: Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills, Third Edition (Hardcover)
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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Comments

Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 23 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 14, 2008 1:30:33 PM PST
I checked out both this book and the book you recommended: Reader's Digest Back to the Basics. I'm glad I got them from the library and didn't buy them both because they are the SAME book. This book is just a newer edition without the Reader's Digest name on the cover. They have the same chapters and same topics as far as I can tell -- including Fly Fishing in both. Even the page numbers seem to line up. Could you please tell me what is different between this newer edition and the older edition other than the cover color and perhaps minor updates?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2008 10:28:40 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 15, 2008 10:31:00 AM PST
The one that I own (out on loan right now) is a Reader's Digest first edition (I'm thinking that I bought it through a book club but I'm not certain now) -- it lacked a lot of the sports-oriented information now found in the new book. I suspect that if you could find a Reader's Digest first edition that you could get it a lot cheaper than this new one. I'm sorry that I cannot provide the date of it (late 70s?) but the person who has it does not live nearby and if I call them on the phone I'm afraid that they'll take it as a noxious hint that I want it back right away... lol! *.*

If you can't find it on Amazon, you might try "bookfinder" which always yields up hard-to-find books for me:

http://www.bookfinder.com/

best regards and thanx for your informative feedback!

pat

Posted on Jan 23, 2009 8:58:24 PM PST
well....I just looked through my dog-chewed 1981 Readers Digest version.....and "Winter Sports," "Kayaking and Rafting," "Foraging for Flour and Emergency Rations," are indeed tacked onto the end of it as well....what I would really like to know is if the book has truly been updated to include new information about things like hay-bale building of homes, newer solar technology, etc. The old book is quite good- but it had just an introduction on everything as well. Oddly, we have lived in the country 18+ years and my husband HAS taken up Kayaking!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 26, 2009 3:41:48 PM PST
OMG!!!

heh... heh...

In your Reader's Digest one, were those sports in one section or did they each have their own section?

p.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2010 7:56:58 PM PST
J. Hunt says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 15, 2010 12:01:33 PM PST
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 31, 2010 9:14:33 AM PST
Julia Greer says:
Thank you for a great review, Patrick. I too have the original Reader's Digest version (copyright 1981, when I was 10... I remember asking my parents for this book for a long time and they finally bought it for me when I was 11 or 12). Looking through my well-loved 30-year-old book, I see that Billy Goat Ranch is right; the original does include all of that (in fact it too is 456 pages exactly). I had thought of buying this new version but thanks to the reviews and comments here, I see that's unnecessary! I do wonder if they updated the photos... I have to say, one thing I love about the original is the illustrative photos of very 70's-looking characters and clothing (I seem to recall a woman wearing an ankle-length patchwork-quilt skirt)... love that! Guess I will keep my original edition as the treasure it is!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 31, 2010 12:08:55 PM PST
"I have to say, one thing I love about the original is the illustrative photos of very 70's-looking characters and clothing (I seem to recall a woman wearing an ankle-length patchwork-quilt skirt)... love that!"

Ha! Good one, Julia!

Thank you for your kind feedback.

Best regards,

pat

Posted on Jun 16, 2010 7:37:07 AM PDT
This review was very helpful to me, because while I didn't recognize the cover, it sounded familiar. When I clicked on the link in the review, it brought me up to a picture of the book that I already own! Glad to hear he thought this older one was superior, and thankful that I didn't then buy a book that I essentially already have...

Posted on Aug 18, 2010 6:31:50 PM PDT
What's funny is that this comment appears on both Back to Basics book by Skyhorse AND Readers Digest.
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Location: Lucasville, OH USA

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