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When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self Reliance & Planetary Survival Paperback – May, 2000

4.2 out of 5 stars 199 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Review From John Egan, proprietor of the website SurvivalistBooks.com-

Matthew Stein has written a clear, concise book on the subject of survival that, while educating, also does what few others have managed to do - entertain and engage the reader. Throughout the book you'll find personal stories accompanying the text to further illustrate or drive home a point. The use of these asides brings you into Matthew Stein's life, as he recounts personal stories of survival and tells the stories of others who have managed to overcome the odds to survive. Not just a survival book, Matthew also covers topics like alternative therapies; how to create a survival mindset; survival strategies; renewable energy; companion gardening; prophecies etc. as well as all the regular topics found in such books - edible plants; first aid; making a survival kit; growing, hunting and foraging; making tools; creating shelters; spinning/weaving/tanning etc. The book has some great illustrations that make plant identification and first aid that much easier to understand and each chapter finishes with a reference section listing books (along with a short review) and resources (with web addresses where available).







"This book is an indispensable basic manual for the real-life issues that await us in the decades to come. Those who read it, and pay attention to its treasure trove of practical wisdom, will enjoy a huge advantage as the cheap oil fiesta winds down and circumstances compel us to live differently."--James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency



"You don't need to be a survivalist to appreciate this book. If you are thoughtful. If you seek a simpler, more sustainable life or if you feel as though technology has already failed us in the ways that matter, this is a book you want in your personal library."--Kathy Harrison, author of Just In Case: How to Be Self-Sufficient When the Unexpected Happens




"We imagine that we live in the age of information, but this engrossing book reminds us of how comparatively little we know. Most human communities used to know how to provide water and food and energy for themselves, but most of the tips in this comprehensive account will come as news to most Americans. You may never need to put them into practice (or you may need them this winter when home heating prices soar) but at the very least they illuminate the state of our comparative ignorance."--Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy




"If you've been wondering about how to respond to the twin dangers of peak oil and global warming, one of your best choices would be to read this book."--Greg Pahl, author of The Citizen-Powered Energy Handbook: Community Solutions to a Global Crisis



"A fascinating collection of concepts and skills that will satisfy everyone from the casual do-it-yourself enthusiast to someone who wants to attempt self-reliance and the ultimate emergency preparedness."--Howard Backer, MD, author of Wilderness First Aid: Emergency Care for Wilderness Locations and past president of the Wilderness Medical Society




"I have no children because I read M. King Hubbert's analyses on the future of oil and other fossil fuels in 1969, and Limits to Growth shortly thereafter. It was clear to me then and in every year since that our whole economy, and all of our economic principles, were based on cheap oil that would not last. The reason that economists could get away with criticizing Hubbert and LTG as well promoting their basically absurd theories that often disregarded and even belittled natural resources was that, in fact, more oil could be pulled out of the ground to make ANY economic theory or policy work, no matter how stupid. Now that the oil spigot is sputtering the economists' theories and policies are increasingly shown to be failures. We need a whole new way to think about how we do our economies. In the spirit of the old Whole Earth Catalogues Matt Stein does a marvelous and diverse job of helping us to think about how we might go about generating an approach to our economies that can make sense. This is a great book to have on your bookshelf as we enter the post-peak second half of the age of oil."--Professor Charles A.S. Hall, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry




"When Technology Fails is the roadmap that you want and need to navigate whatever may lie ahead."--John L. Chunta, PeakOilResources.com



"We may all need a survival reference when technology fails. Matthew provides one--fact-filled, with useful tips on all aspects of survival, clothing, food, shelter, water, etc., including such vital subjects as grazing and the green pharmacy."--James A. Duke, economic botanist, USDA (ret.), and author of The Green Pharmacy



"A marvelous guidebook for helping us through the worst of times, and even improving on the best of times."--Thom Hartmann, syndicated radio host and author of The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight



"When the grid goes down, having this book with you could be the difference between life and death."--Matt Savinar, author of Life After the Oil Crash



"Stein's excellent guide to simplifying your life, reducing your environmental impact, and pulling yourself out of a jam is sure to gather no dust on your bookshelf... This book is a personal and planetary empowerment tool."--Richard Heede, Ph.D., author, Homemade Money: How to Save Energy and Dollars in Your Home




"I liked this book. It's carefully researched, comprehensive, well illustrated, and readable. It presents much needed alternate information, for, in my opinion, technology has already 'failed' ...So replacement of polluting 'high' technologies with non-polluting 'low' ones is urgent, and Matthew Stein's handbook systematically and accurately surveys a wide array of possible low-tech options. Much hard work, time, and talent went into the building of this basic reference survey of low-tech options."--Carla Emery, author, The Encyclopedia of Country Living: An Old-Fashioned Recipe Book




"When Technology Fails is a massive project done well. First the book gives a superb presentation of WHY one should be more aware and prepared--and then HOW one should go about this. The scope of this book... is thorough. Not only is the information presented well, but a solid bibliography can carry the student as far as he desires in any particular area of interest."--John McPherson, author, Primitive Wilderness Living and Survival Skills







"Matthew Stein has done us all a tremendous favor by searching far and wide for useful knowledge. In this era of specialization, personal and social viability depend on expansive thinking. When Technology Fails is itself a powerful expression of the technology of sustainable living. It teaches more skills than I thought possible in just one book and rightly combines the immediacy of an emergency escape plan with the urgency for long-term thinking."--Mathis Wackernagel, Executive Director of the Global Footprint Network



"When Technology Fails is a comprehensive guide and compendium of the tools society will require as it reaches the convergence of hyper-inflation, oil depletion, and environmental limitations; in other words, at the point where technology fails."--William Kemp, author of The Renewable Energy Handbook



"When Technology Fails. . . Like that's some sort of unlikely future possibility! Technology is always failing while people stand around befuddled about what to do. With Mat Stein's book, when push comes to shove, you can be your own veritable MacGyver. Not only does it provide us with the information we need to plan for, and deal with, potential emergencies and disasters, it also shows us how we can live more sustainably and self-reliantly in today's world of climate change and gas prices that are going through the ceiling. This is the sort of ingenuity for which Americans have been famous. When Technology Fails is to the mechanical world what Joy of Cooking is to the world of cooking. In other words, the encyclopedia every home should have on hand. Keep it right next to the emergency flashlight and your Swiss Army knife."--David Blume, permaculturist and author of Alcohol Can Be A Gas!



"Whether you are seeking self-reliance and a simpler life or fear the collapse of social services, this compendium of practical information for sustainable living belongs on your bookshelf..."--Fred C. Walters, editor, Acres U.S.A. magazine




"The depth of this book, covering everything from building materials to spiritual healing, is astounding. It is a one-stop source... to create a self-sufficient, earth-friendly lifestyle. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in preserving the health of themselves and the planet--and moving toward a sustainable, sane way of living."--Robyn Griggs Lawrence, editor-in-chief, Natural Home magazine




"Matthew Stein gives us a readable, updated wake-up call for sustainability practices in the best tradition of Paul Ehrlich, Lester Brown, and Jared Diamond."--Stephen Schneider, Ph.D., Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies at Stanford University and coordinating lead author in IPCC summary papers on climate change



"In this age of over-consumption, truth is lost in a myriad of commercialized details. Matthew Stein picks up and assembles these shattered shards, and by examining each in the meticulous manner of a crime scene investigator, offers valuable insight and practical tools to survive in a world at the brink of chaos. In doing so, he helps maintain sanity in a time of hardening denial about the state of the world--and helps throw open the door to Plato's Cave where so many of us remain uncomfortably shackled."--Peter Droege, author of The Renewable City and Urban Energy Transition

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

Dear Editor:

We are pleased to submit WHEN TECHNOLOGY FAILS: A Manual for Self Reliance & Planetary Survival, by Matthew Stein, for your review.

No home is complete without this essential resource. M.I.T. graduate Matthew Stein spent 15 years compiling the information for When Technology Fails. This easy-to-use manual is designed for self-reliant living in today's changing world.

As we begin the 21st Century, the rapidly expanding world population is quickly depleting the available natural resources and fossil fuel supply while increasing the demand for basic human needs-food, shelter, clothing and energy. This combined with the current worldwide infrastructure dependent on instant global communication and next-day distribution grids means that any disruption of the norm due to technology breakdowns, weather patterns, solar spots, techno-terrorism or natural upheavals can create massive disruptions to daily life.

When Technology Fails is the first book to offer basic instructions and recommended resources for the wide range of skills and technologies necessary for self-reliant living, achieving mastery of all kinds of emergency conditions, and treading lighter on Mother Earth. When Technology Fails is a user-friendly manual for the 2lst Century in the tradition of the Whole Earth Catalog.

We hope you enjoy reading this important book and can recommend it to your readers.

Thank you

Harmon Houghton
Publisher

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Clear Light Books; First Edition edition (May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1574160478
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574160475
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (199 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,164,865 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a great book about preparing for short-term societal or environmental crises - how to conserve water when the water's not running (after a hurricane, say), how to stay warm and safe when the ice-storm of the century wipes out your natural gas and electricity, or an earthquake shakes your house down around your ears in the middle of the night.
The true beauty of this book is the wealth of information for longer-term "doing without," or slow erosion of a situation of plenty we now take for granted. Here is information on dealing with medical problems when no doctor is forthcoming, growing food organically and with your own saved seed, how you might store food over the winter with no refrigerator.
If we lost the luxury of the machines that run our world, would we find ourselves back in the stone age, having lost the knowledge handed down for generations beyond count of how to shelter, clothe, feed and doctor ourselves? These skills are all touched on in this book, with voluminous resource lists so that the reader can learn more about any of these subjects.
Technology, too, is given its due - renewable energy sources like solar and wind are discussed and the best water filters on the market.
Change is coming. That's apparent. If you're worried, wary - this is a good book, a jumping-off place to learn skills you may some day be very thankful for, or at least gather a library of relevant information against the day when it is needed. Survivalist paranoia not required.
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Format: Paperback
Matthew Stein has written a clear, concise book on the subject of survival that, while educating, also does what few others have managed to do - entertain and engage the reader.
Throughout the book you'll find personal stories accompanying the text to further illustrate or drive home a point. The use of these asides brings you into Matthew Stein's life, as he recounts personal stories of survival and tells the stories of others who have managed to overcome the odds to survive.
Not just a survival book, Matthew also covers topics like alternative therapies; how to create a survival mindset; survival strategies; renewable energy; companion gardening; prophecies etc. as well as all the regular topics found in such books - edible plants; first aid; making a survival kit; growing, hunting and foraging; making tools; creating shelters; spinning/weaving/tanning etc.
The book has some great illustrations that make plant identification and first aid that much easier to understand and each chapter finishes with a reference section listing books (along with a short review) and resources (with web addresses where available).
This book is supposed to have been 15 years in the making - and the time and effort taken by the author to research his topic really shows. When Technology Fails belongs in your survival library - as the publisher says, "it's a user-friendly manual for the 21st Century".
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Most of this book is very good. It is a good survey of many issues related to self-sufficiency. It has great references that make it easier to find the materials needed for a more in-depth understanding of most of the topics.
However, I had the feeling while reading the book was that it was written by Abby (Dharma's mother from Dharma & Greg). Great, pragmatic information is tainted with pseudo-science nonsense and newage garbage. Most of which is harmless, but some of it may be downright dangerous.
For example, there is a half page editorial on the moral issues of hunting followed some pages later by a long discussion of tanning. There is a story of how blessing water turned undrinkable swill into sweet healing water. There's enough folk and eastern medical advice to make your head swim.
If you believe everything you read, this probably isn't the book for you. However, if you can discern the likely from the silly, you might find this book useful.
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"when technology fails" is misleading to the content of the book. It had a few good ideas but is was more about the author's philosophy. To give you a better idea of what I am speaking of before you decide to buy this book;
this is chapter 16 Making the shift to sustainability.
Plan B
1. change the tax structure - cap & trade
2. rebuild our cities
3. rebuild our railways, waterways, and mass transit systems
4. rebuild our homes, office buildings, and factories
5. rebuild our industries
6. fund and support renewable energy development
7. eliminate population growth (I had to write the whole caption under this one)
Reduce global population to the point where the population of our planet levels off, followed by a decline in world population. On a planet where the estimated long-term carrying capacity is on the order of 1 to 2 billion people, if we can't control our own population growth, nature will do it for us. Most people would agree that it is much more humane to provide family-planning eduction and birth control materials for all people on earth than for the population to find its natural level through starvation, plagues, and wars. "when technology fails" page 461.
8. share the wealth
9. reach out to developing countries
10. replace coal-burning power plants
11. global relocalization
12. make decisions based on sustainability
DO YOU NOW UNDERSTAND WHY IT WASN'T EXACTLY WHAT I EXPECTED FROM THE TITLE.
WHY DID I TYPE THIS? IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A SURVIVAL OR BACK TO NATURE BOOK FOR CAMPING, THIS IS NOT IT. EVEN THOUGH THE TITLE MAY PUT IT IN THE SAME LEAGUE AS "THE SAS HANDBOOK" OR "HOW TO SURVIVE THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT" YOU WILL BE DISAPPOINTED IN THIS BOOK.
IF YOU BELIEVE IN GLOBAL WARMING AND GOING GREEN ALL THE WAY, BY ALL MEANS BUY THIS BOOK. IT IS VERY WELL WRITTEN.
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