- 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
- Average Customer Review: 173 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,645 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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Top customer reviews
If you are curious how the world works, if you're a budding inventor, or if you want that "dad" knowledge, definitely buy this book.
On the bright side, it has a good and expansive bibliography, but in some ways it's too big unless you have access to a major research library. A shorter list of recommended continued reading would have been nice.
Fortunately for us, Lewis Darnell has thought the problem through. This is not a book that is narrowly directed to those anticipating the eminent end of our civilization, though it would be a useful thing to have in that situation. Rather, it is an educational work which shows us how dependent we are on the accumulated knowledge passed on to us from countless generations of our ancestors for meeting our daily needs.
This is not light reading, but the careful reader will find rich rewards in wading through the vast technical knowledge of this author.
What I learned from this book is to never doubt the resilience of humans in the face of whatever adversity we encounter. At the same time, you will be surprised to find out how deeply dependent all of us are on things about which we know little or nothing.
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 !).