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Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs: The Thrivalist's Guide to Life Without Oil Paperback – April 5, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

In the latter half of the twentieth century, the percentage of the total American population living in suburbs grew to nearly 50 percent. Fossil fuels were cheap and plentiful, and car-dependent, energy-intensive lifestyles came hand-in-hand with this demographic transition. In the age of Peak Oil,environmental catastrophe and a failing economy it is imperative that we transform the suburbs into sustainable communities.

Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs envisions a suburban evolution-from isolated cookie-cutter houses with manicured lawns and 2-car garages to small, closely packed, productive, interdependent homesteads. Thisguide to simplifying suburbia and adopting a lower energy lifestyle breaks down all our basic needs and describes how they might be met after the loss of the modern conveniences we currently take for granted. From small-space gardening techniques and a guide to small livestock, to tips on cooking, heating, and sanitation options and much more, this is a complete guide to becoming more self-sufficient wherever you live.

Required reading for anyone interested in increased self-reliance and a lower carbon footprint, Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs will help you look past the white picket fence to a new world of possibilities.

About the Author

Wendy Brown is a suburban homesteader growing roots (both literally and figuratively) in Southern Maine. Until 2005 her family was living the American Dream, complete with credit card debt, car payments and two mortgages. Concerns about the environment, Peak Oil, and the economy combined with a growing desire to live a more self-sufficient life caused her and her family to reevaluate their lives. The result has been a transition from a completely dependent, consumerist lifestyle to one of living debt-free in a comfortable, more energy efficient home in a desirable location with a bountiful garden.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865716811
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865716810
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,137,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Overall, I found this book to be a bit silly, but in the interest of full disclosure I must acknowledge that I live a nearly self-sufficient rural lifestyle and have spent the past twenty years incorporating much of what the author recommends; also, and more importantly, I am not a Luddite. So the parts I found silly were such anecdotes as the author's husband deciding to spend a year hand-splitting wood little by little rather than cooperating with others to rent a splitter to get the task done in a weekend, thus freeing up time for all the remaining chores. The assumption, I think, is that we will forget how to split wood and/or get out of shape if we do not. The bigger, underlying assumption is that the know-how and fuel to keep labor-saving tools in the mix simply won't be available. If and when things get that bad, we will have much bigger problems to worry about--civil unrest with an over-armed population springs to mind immediately. If and when there is no fuel whatsoever to drive small tools, there probably won't be grain coming to feed stores to keep backyard live stock alive through the winter. In the meantime, it makes a lot more sense to invest in even a small solar panel that could be used to charge a small splitter, keep a well-pump going, etc. Solar panel technology has greatly improved and become much more affordable in the past decade. This book is replete with such examples that I would put in the work harder not smarter category. It's interesting that it was published at the same time as a memoir by Melissa Coleman entitled This Life Is In Your Hands, which chronicles the hardship and heartbreak of living an overly-principled subsistence lifestyle.Read more ›
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Do not let the title deter you. No need to have strong survival instincts to truly enjoy this book. Full of knowledge, this author did all the research for you. She practices what she preaches and writes her story without inflicting you with guilt. She shares her experiences with generosity and without pretension. Just like a gift.

Her experience with life is meaningful , touching, and funny too. If I were a minimalist, it would be the book to keep! You can learn how to grow potatoes, make soap, raise bees and much more in less than 300 pages.

I grew up in the seventies in a small French Canadian town. This book brought back fond memories of simple life - a life that my mom and my grandmother lived in a time when shopping was not a hobby and kneading bread was an art that everyone mastered. Reading this book made me think about all I have (too much of "it" actually) and most of all, what I have lost, what I do not have, and I am not talking about more "stuff".

Although I am not ready to get rid of all my belongings making friends with a survivalist seems a good idea all of a sudden .... because after all we have messed up our planet ;).

Caroline
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When ordering this book, I had high hopes. However, this is not the authoritative guide I expected. The premise of the book is a supposed list of priorities to be addressed in anticipation of the worst. However, the author frequently wonders without much direction or knowledge. Anticipating lack of electricity, she ponders ways to power her laptop without seeming to realize that there probably will be no internet without electricity. She offers suggestions for entertainment such as collecting used books now. Her suggestions for heating and cooking amounts to wood, not seeming to understand that getting wood for fuel in most places requires some form of energy for transporting it over some distance. In all honesty, I could have written the same book over a winter's hibernation without much better to do, and I wouldn't buy my book either, if I were you!
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Great suggestions, made me reconsider the tons of books I was thinking of selling / giving away. What happens if "civilization as we know it" ends ? I wouldn't starve because it's very easy to live a simple life and grow my own vegetables (I already do), and I'd definitely step-up my indoor sprout "garden" plus my mushroom garden, and that will take care of my physical body, but what about my mind ? This book has helped me realize that I need to have some awesome books to read on a daily basis. These would include vegan cookbooks (you can always learn new recipes), books on learning new skills; for example, I love to sew and would really like to learn to sew new and different things, and there are some cool books out there that teach you that, plus books on gardening, frugal living (which hopefully most people in that situation would already be practicing), financial and real estate books - would be fun to keep up with those. So yes, definitely an interesting read. Mind you, the author didn't address all the above, but the book got me thinking about those things.
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When I was Thirteen years old I saw the movie "Panic In the Year Zero." That was in 1968 when we all thought nuclear war was just around the corner. Ever since then I've been aware of the frailty of our suburban petroleum based consumer life style. I've read many books about surviving a catastrophic future but they always seem to involve building a compound in Idaho and stockpiling ammunition or surviving in the wilderness with a knife. All of them were good reads with good information but not very practical for my reality where I get up at five in the morning and drive to work so I can pay my mortgage and electric bill. "Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs" is the first book that I've come across that made me feel like, "Hey I can do this."
The scenario of a future where we all have to get by on less due to peak oil or financial collapse is a very plausible one as is the idea that with a little preparation we can actually thrive in such a world. If in the future "Mad Max" or "The Road" is paradigm then nothing matters anyway. If on the other hand the more realistic idea that we can go back to a simpler way of living and get along without all the consumer paraphernalia that we've become accustomed to is more the case, then the author has provided a very upbeat manual for thriving in such an environment. As for me, I've come to the conclusion that even if the modern consumerist orgy of endless instant gratification continues indefinably, it's an hollow endless cycle of searching for something that can never be found at Walmart and I will be happier getting off the merry go 'round and living a simpler more sustainable lifestyle. This book is actually one of a very few that has actually motivated me to do something to improve my life, and that's a good thing.
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