Until I checked this book out of the library, I had rarely given a thought to getting "back to basics," that is learning how to be more self-sufficient. After I read the book, I soon bought it, because it opened my eyes to the many ways that I am almost entirely dependent upon others for my basic needs. "Back to Basics" is a helpful guide for those who want to get away from it all and live totally independently on a farm, and even those like myself that live in town, but that want to become more self-sufficient, and less dependent on expensive fossil fuels and foods that someone else has raised or grown.
"Back to Basics" is a colorful, easy-to-understand encyclopedia of basic skills. There are hundreds of color photos, and most lessons are laid out step-by-step, making the concepts very easy to learn. The book is divided into six basic parts:
I. Land: Buying It - Building on it (how to choose land, build a home, develop a water supply, create a sauna, etc)
II. Energy from Wood, Water, Wind, and Sun (making your home more efficient, how to use wind energy, setting up a solar-powered house, etc)
III. Raising Your Own Vegetables, Fruit, and Livestock (how to properly grow all sorts of fruits, vegetables, and grains, how to farm fish, beekeeping, butchering an animal, etc)
IV. Enjoying Your Harvest Year Round (canning, preserving all kinds of foods, making cheese and wine, etc)
V. Skills and Crafts for House and Homestead (making natural dyes, weaving, woodworking, stenciling, soapmaking, making homemade perfumes, etc)
VI. Recreation at Home and in the Wild (camping, canoeing, kayaking, celebrating holidays, etc)
This book definitely has the potential to help all of us live more self-sufficiently, learning to do the things that our grandparents probably learned growing up. However, one possible drawback is that becoming self-sufficient takes a lot of work, and in the case of switching your home over to some type of alternative energy, a lot of money as well. Most readers are probably not going to have the land, time, and money to make some of the more significant changes suggested. However, the book still offers a lot for the rest of us, and at the least, educates us as to what it takes to live in a self-sufficient manner. Another possible drawback is that the book tries to squeeze a lot of information into 456 pages. This means that while you are getting a very concise, and surprisingly detailed, overview, you may need to consult more detailed sources if you need more help than what the book offers.
Overall, this is an interesting and useful book that offers practical ways to become more self-sufficient, something that is highly relevant in these times of rising energy and food prices. My family has already used some of the ideas, starting our first garden this year.