- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Press; First Edition edition (April 17, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 159420523X
- ISBN-13: 978-1594205231
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 178 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch First Edition Edition
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Dartnell, a UK Space Agency research fellow and award-winning science writer, specializes in the field of astrobiology, including how microorganisms could survive on Mars. It’s no wonder, then, that this renowned young scientist is fascinated by survival tactics, the underlying theme of this ambitious inquiry into how people might be able to rebuild the world as we know it if an apocalypse came to pass. As much as any writer could cover the history of technology in 300 pages, Dartnell presents a good case. His account quickly progresses from raising crops to making soap, shearing and spinning wool, mining coal, generating electricity, and building radios. Of course, since this is all speculation, it’s hard to predict what people would be able to scavenge and what will be left intact or who might be on earth besides yourself. Dartnell doesn’t address questions of governing this survivors’ society or how people would collaborate on rebuilding or how hopeless some will feel without Google and smartphones. Still, Dartnell’s vision is a great start in understanding what it took to build our world. --Laurie Borman
The Wall Street Journal:
“The Knowledge is a fascinating look at the basic principles of the most important technologies undergirding modern society… a fun read full of optimism about human ingenuity. And if I ever see mushroom clouds on the far horizon, this might be a good book to reach for.”
“[Dartnell’s] plans may anticipate the destruction of our world, but embedded in them is the hope that there might be a better way to live in the pre-apocalyptic world we inhabit right now.”
New York Post:
“A stimulating read, a grand thought experiment on re-engineering the food, housing, clothing, heat, clean water and every other building block of civilization.”
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A series of 'this is how to build a fire', 'this is how to identify iron-bearing rocks', 'this is how to smelt iron', 'this is how to build a steam engine, etc.
The book instead is a series of chapters describing problems that one facing the rebuilding of civilization would face with no solutions. For example it describes how post-1800s farming requires industrial nitrogen fixing and how not having that is an issue, without providing a solution.
This book is a good starting point for research, but is not what I was hoping for.
The book really showed me how much I didn't know about the tech I use and love daily and opened my eyes to how interconnected and dependent we are as a species.
It makes you think on the fragility of our world as we know it, coming from the last couple of centuries of high energy availability at low price, and how we depend on this for our life.
We are proposed a scenario where this is not anymore available, with clues on how to recover, and pointers to where to find information to gather. Not for eager preppers, but for general public to understand the situation as it is.
Does not cover in my opinion the danger from the removal of rational thinking, and how to grant the same level of freedom of thought we have today: remember Clarke's three laws <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarke%27s_three_laws> and what religion has done in the past to undermine development.
Project a couple of generation in this post apocalypse and you will see the danger for recovering "scientists" to be burned on pyres (again !).
2015/10/03 Addendum: Dr. Dartnell also sponsors a forum for readers of his book: discuss.the-knowledge.org