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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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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.
-- From The Knowledge by Lewis Dartnell
Anyone who thinks civilization is indestructible doesn't get out much.
The past is heaped in ruin. The future harbors the chance of natural and/or man-made cataclysm. Our present appears more than a little shaky.
Like our bodies, it's quite possible that something vital will one day give 'way. The system-as-a-whole clutches its collective chest and expires, gasping. Is crushed by falling rock. Or brought low by hurled, nuclear-tipped spear.
The Knowledge by Lewis Dartnell goes a long way toward answering that question. He provides an over-view of means by which that our world might re-boot itself from little more than scratch. A tool-kit of core, synergetic technologies with which industrial society has been achieved. Yet it is not prescriptive; this Knowledge empowers the future but leaves it to find its own way.
Along the way, Dartnell provides a fascinating tour through the 'engine-room' of our industrial world. He illuminates its essential functions, interdependencies and history. Cataclysm or no, his book will have you looking with new eyes at the ubiquitous, taken-for-granted substances and artifacts permeating our lives. Should cataclysm befall us... well... it's a magnificently conceived gift to the future.
The Knowledge is a tour de force which should appeal, not just to Doomers such as myself, but to any who yet feel the Renaissance passion for the Knowledge of our own times. That lauded and once valued Jack-or-Jill-of-all trades-kind of Knowledge that deepens our appreciation for our world, and extends our reach within it.
Wonderful book, and I mean full of wonders! I return to its pages time and again, as seeds it has sown bloom within me.
The Knowledge initiates a magnificent and, I believe, vital project.
To my mind, it succeeds where many have failed to strike that narrow balance between too much and too little. It accepts its limitations and goes a long way toward persuading those who may be so moved, that a 'stitch in time' is a worthy goal.
Where it is, perhaps, improvable has more to do with presentation than content; the not trivial task of speaking effectively to persons not yet born, and who inhabit a world homo sapiens has never seen. For them, the great torch of technology – from fire to the Clovis point to the germ theory – handed from generation to generation may well have been dropped.
Lewis Dartnell has taken up the part of Prometheus, offering fire to the future.
As with technology, The Knowledge is but the tip of an iceberg. Visit The-Knowledge.org to participate in re-booting the future.
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.