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The Knowledge: How To Rebuild Our World After An Apocalypse Paperback – March 5, 2015
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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"A wake-up call, encouraging us to leave our comfort zone and learn the basics of caring for ourselves in a disaster and it's aftermath." ---Mixed Media Reviews --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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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.
I'm filled with awe at the brilliant people who have built our modern civilization.
I heartily recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand how the things we take for granted actually work, or who wish to appreciate what amazing ingenuity went into developing our present civilization.
I bought a copy and sent it to my brother, who also reported enjoying it.
The ‘apocalypse’ itself described in book was very clinical but this book is not meant to be a blow-by-blow instruction manual. I couldn’t see survivors sitting around it deciding what to do on Day 24. However, it does contain a lot of high level technological insight that a post-apocalyptic Edison or Pasteur might find useful and could spend years of their lives trying to leverage.
The book is apolitical. Its focus is the technology. If you need advice on how to hang on to your post-apocalyptic fiefdom, consult Machiavelli, Sun Tzu and other experts in such matters. Oh, the book doesn’t cover killing zombies either.
Some readers might find the advanced chemistry section a bit of a drudge, but I can’t see how Dartnell could avoid that, given leaving it out would undermine the book’s purpose. On the flip side, it provides useful context for any fledgling chemistry students.
The footnotes throughout the book are consistently very interesting. I think any writer interested in world building would find the book very useful.
One thing to note is that the book is shorter than it appears. About the last 20% is filled with references, including a useful list of relevant fiction.
One final word of advice. If you want to tuck this away for the apocalypse, so you can amaze the other survivors with your scientific knowhow, remember to buy the paperback, not the ebook. Unless you’re really sure you can get those generators up and running.