Customer Review

410 of 433 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fuel Drop + Climate Change + Disease + Water Drop = Great Depression., October 24, 2005
This review is from: The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century (Hardcover)
This is a brilliant piece of work, indeed so compelling that after glancing at it over morning coffee I set aside a work day and simply read the book. I take away one star because there is no index, no bibliography, and the author is very poor about crediting his sources. On page 163, for example, his observations about 300 Chinese cities being water-stressed, and about the Aral Sea disappearing, appear to have come directly from Marq de Villier's superb book on Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource but without attribution. This should have been footnoted.

Having said that, I consider the book itself, despite its run-on Op-Ed character, to be a tour de force that is very logically put forward. Indeed, although I have seen allusions elsewhere, this is the first place that I have seen such a thorough denunciation of how cheap oil underlies everything else including suburbia and Wal-Mart cf. Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. I am also quite impressed by the author's logical discourse on how communities have sacrificed their future coherence and sustainability for the sake of a few dollars savings on Wal-Mart products.

There is a great deal in the book that is covered more ably and in more detail by the other 600+ books I have reviewed at Amazon, and indeed, replicates much of what I write about in The New Craft of Intelligence: Personal, Public, & Political--Citizen's Action Handbook for Fighting Terrorism, Genocide, Disease, Toxic Bombs, & Corruption but, I have to say, with a different twist that I admire very much.

I find the author's exploration of how cheap fuel led to wasted water, helping create cities and mega-agricultural endeavors that reduced our water at the same time that we consumed centuries worth of unrenewable fossil fuel, quite alarming.

I sum the book up on page 180 by writing in the bottom margin: "Fuel Drop + Climate Change + Disease + Water Drop = Great Depression."

I disagree with those that consider the book excessively alarmist, and agree with those that find fault with the author's documentation. An index and an annotated bibliography would have doubled the value of this book. The author is clearly well read, logical, and articulate--an unkind person would say that he has also been lazy in not substantiating his arguments with what intelligence readers value most: an index and a good bibliography that respects the contributions of others to the argument.

The author in passing makes a good argument against our current educational system, and I for one believe that we need to get back to a system of life-long education accompanied by early apprenticeship and real-world employment and grounding for our young people. What passes for education today is actually child care, and the smartest young people, like my teen-ager, consider it to be nothing more than a prison.

On balance, a solid 4, a solid buy, and worth its weight in gold if you act on his advice and begin planning an exit strategy from those places likely to run out of water, fuel, and transport options in the next 20 years.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 21 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 23, 2006 4:12:47 PM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2007 3:18:52 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 27, 2007 3:19:20 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Feb 28, 2007 3:29:03 PM PST
Thank you for the able defense. Since I review so many books, I try to both summarize the key points, and relate them to all the other books. This was intended to be a very strong favorable review with a good balance of what might have been done better. Nothing in here about me at all--just all the other authors whose minds and points of view I admire. Thank you again. Cheap shots always hurt.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2007 4:16:05 PM PDT
So, Mr Steele, who is right: Kunstler or Kurzweil?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2007 6:28:32 AM PDT
Kunstler will be proven correct in the short run but Kurzweil points to where we as a species are headed ultimately, although not in this civilization cycle. Kurzweil's is actually a description of the likely path that all carbon based species follow. The challenge is getting past this particularly dangerous period in our evolution. Other species elsewhere in the universe have no doubt made the transition. All we have to do is figure out how they did it.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2007 9:06:03 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 9, 2010 6:38:38 PM PDT
I struggled with Economics. My grades improved when I finally learned to answer "both" to questions that seemed to demand a black or white answer. Mr. Hundley has a useful thoughtful response I could not have made.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2007 4:37:22 AM PDT
Thank you Mr. Steele for your kind note. You are one of the most insightful reviewers on Amazon and I value your reviews highly, so much so that I have even created a Word file for some of them. My thoughts on Kurzweil are expanded further in my review which you might find interesting. Also I invite you to review The Collapse of Complex Societies sometime. I would be very interested in your take on it. Thanks again for your contributions to an intelligent national dialogue on critically important issues.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2007 5:24:24 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 12, 2007 5:27:03 AM PDT
I really liked your recommendation of the book "The Collapse of Complex Societies" (1990) and I have ordered it for direct review, and also "After Collapse: The Regeneration of Complex Societies" (2006). Book prices are edging up, which concerns me, but at least these two are still under $65. Thanks for the recommendation. I see enormous potential in your contributions to Amazon, have added you to interesting people.

Posted on Nov 9, 2007 6:23:08 AM PST
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Posted on Jun 10, 2008 9:28:08 AM PDT
Pen Name says:
Robert Steele is a generous and enormously insightful contributor to Amazon's review system. I consider it a very positive indicator of my sometimes better taste in reading material when I encounter a review by him of a book I am interested in, and in the case of Kunstler's work his comments are focused, insightful and critically helpful. His comments about his own work and his daughter were relevant to the discussion and well placed, IMV. As a former career military Intelligence Officer with considerable experience around the D.C./No VA beltway, I understand some of Mr. Steele's other references as well and completely agree with them. Hang in there, Mr. Steele. ((Another mark of his taste and his intelligence is having chosen Oakton, VA as a place to reside.))
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Location: Oakton, VA United States

Top Reviewer Ranking: 495