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World Made by Hand: A Novel by James Howard…
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World Made by Hand: A Novel (original 2008; edition 2008)

by James Howard Kunstler

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8265016,649 (3.5)39
Member:KarenBlakeman
Title:World Made by Hand: A Novel
Authors:James Howard Kunstler
Info:Atlantic Monthly Press (2008), Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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World Made By Hand by James Howard Kunstler (2008)

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Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
Very different from what I expected, well written and absorbing. I thought it wandered a little at the end, but it was good enough that I ordered the next book in the series. ( )
  unclebob53703 | Feb 7, 2019 |
Life in a rural NY village about 9 years after bombs have "taken out" LA & DC followed a few years later by a decimating flu epidemic. The world's economic/trade structure has fallen apart as has (at least in the US) government. There is no mention of a nuclear winter so we'll assume those were some other kind of bomb.
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it is well written, the story flows smoothly, and I don't have any quibbles about any of the daily life details. Robert is our protagonist: an apparently laid-back carpenter whose family is all gone. It can be read as a tale of people taking care of each other, struggling to keep in place some survival skills. We're told one of the defining characters of humans is we just don't give up.
On the other hand, the bucolic feel is jarred by the arrival of a religious group which contains a number of ex-military men, and a disruption on relations with nearby communities. Robert is shaken out of his depression and starts taking an active role in thinking of how to keep things from falling apart in his community. I regret that the only solution involves killing, as does he, but we are given hope that with a few "bad apples" out of the way a more equitable future will come about. This theme seems to be the importance of strong leaders--good or bad--in setting the direction of any group.
Actually I do have one quibble: the new arrivals talk about leaving the Philadelphia area because of racial strife. At first it's not clear what race they are, but later they talk about the oppressed races rising up. Well, those troubles are distant from rural NY, but at some point these groups will have to develop trust. That's beyond the end of this book.
The story does get wrapped up fairly quickly, & leaves me wondering whether the current state of "normality" will last. ( )
  juniperSun | Apr 29, 2017 |
Post-apocalyptic, back-to-the-land sort of book. Romantic in a homesteaddy sort of way. ( )
  willszal | Jan 3, 2016 |
The first book of 2016 and a good pick it was.

World Made by Hand is a story of post apocalypse small town USA, namely Union Grove, NY. There's no mad max-esque petrol guzzling convoys with endless shoot outs but rather the slow methodical lurch of a small town of folks trying to get by after the modern conveniences vanish.

People will either love its rural realism or hate the lack of break neck action, I for one enjoy a good post apocalypse novel based more in reality than fanciful fiction, the tone brings back memories of Alas, Babylon.

Off to buy book #2, would recommend. ( )
  HenriMoreaux | Jan 2, 2016 |
I would rather give this book 3.5 stars. I liked it for the ideas it presented - how we survive if everything we have taken for granted is gone - but I guess I did not like some of the ways that people behave. But who really knows what a "post-apocalyptic" society would be like? What role would religion play? An interesting tidbit from the book - not really a spoiler - one of the most financially lucrative jobs in this society is mining. The mined product is not a metal or gems or even coal, but the mining of 20th century landfills to reuse everything that was thrown away. Interesting! ( )
  TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
No one can predict the future, and I doubt our future will be much like the one depicted here, but I think its possible that Kunstler has come closer to showing us what's in store than anyone else.
 
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Epigraph
Whom will you cry, to heart? More and more lonely,
your path struggles on through incomprehensible
mankind. All the more futile perhaps
for keeping its own direction,
keeping on toward the future,
toward what has been lost.


-- Rilke
I am a pilgrim and a stranger
Traveling through this wearisome land
I've got a home in that yonder city
And it's not (good Lord it's not) not made by hand.


-- American gospel song
Dedication
To Sally Eckhoff
Fabulous transcender of the mundane
With love
First words
Loren and I walked the railroad tracks along the river coming back from fishing the big pool under the old iron bridge, and I couldn't remember a lovelier evening before or after our world had changed.
Quotations
"We're building our own New Jerusalem up the river. It's a world made by hand, now, one stone at a time, one board at a time, one soul at a time." (Brother Jobe)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802144012, Paperback)

In The Long Emergency celebrated social commentator James Howard Kunstler explored how the terminal decline of oil production, combined with climate change, had the potential to put industrial civilization out of business. In World Made by Hand, an astonishing work of speculative fiction, Kunstler brings to life what America might be, a few decades hence, after these catastrophes converge. For the townspeople of Union Grove, New York, the future is nothing like they thought it would be. Transportation is slow and dangerous, so food is grown locally at great expense of time and energy, and the outside world is largely unknown. There may be a president, and he may be in Minneapolis now, but people aren’t sure. Their challenges play out in a dazzling, fully realized world of abandoned highways and empty houses, horses working the fields and rivers, no longer polluted, and replenished with fish. With the cost of oil skyrocketing—and with it the price of food—Kunstler’s extraordinary book, full of love and loss, violence and power, sex and drugs, depression and desperation, but also plenty of hope, is more relevant than ever.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:57 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In the wake of global catastrophes that have destroyed industrial civilization, the inhabitants of Union Grove, a small New York town, do anything they can to get by, as they struggle to deal with a new way of life over the course of an eventful summer.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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