Book Review: World Made by Hand

December 2, 2011

Book Reviews

A collapse back to the horse and buggy days

A couple of days ago, I finished another “doomer” novel that I really enjoyed.  It’s by James Howard Kunstler and is titled World Made by Hand.  It takes place in New York state at some time in the near future.

The exact cause or causes for the 1900’s style of living the people maintain is not specifically stated.  We know early on that there was a flu pandemic that claimed a lot of lives, but it sounds like it was in the time since the change.

Allusions are made to how the older generation is to blame for how corrupt the world became and for its obsession with oil to the neglect of other power sources.  For most characters in the story, there is no more electricity or gasoline powered vehicles.  Equine horsepower is envied.

The characters are interesting.  The main one had been a corporate executive in the computer field.  His closest friend remains the town pastor.  As the story unfolds, the alliances that people formed to cope with the new challenges they face become evident.  I think the author’s ideas about this are intriguing and very probable.

For added interest, a religious sect buys property in the small town and immediately makes its presence felt.  As I read the book, I kept wondering what kind of statement the author was trying to make with his portrayal of the various “Christians” in the story.  I’m still not certain.

This book got me to thinking once again about the general assumption that living out in the country in a relatively isolated area is the best plan.  What about community?  Security?  Distance to work or trade with others without the convenience of motorized travel?

I thought this was a very good book and enjoyed reading it.  There is a sequel that I may read also, though the storyline of the first book takes an odd turn right at the end, I think to set up for the next one.  The title of the sequel, The Witch of Hebron, hints to me that it may be headed somewhere I may not want to go.  I’ll read the Amazon reviews and think about it.

If you’ve read either World Made by Hand or the sequel, I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

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14 Comments on “Book Review: World Made by Hand”

  1. Brenda J. Elliott Says:

    Kuntsler is a so-called “peak oil” propagandist and everything he writes is based on that premise.

    I documented Kunstler and his brethren several years ago on a wiki now called SourceWatch.


    • Laura Says:

      That is interesting. I’ll have to admit that I don’t research the authors of books I read as a matter of course. But no matter what your beliefs about Peak Oil are, I think most readers of this blog would enjoy the book.

      Thanks for your comment.


  2. Carolyn McBride Says:

    I’ve read both “World Made By Hand”, and it’s sequel, “Witch of Hebron”. They were both entertaining and thought-provoking. I think the religious sect in WMBH was there to provide a foil for the townspeople to play off of, as well as add potential conflict and opportunities to achieve more as a community. But, I say that as a writer. From a prepper’s perspective, this was an interesting read because it gave one hope, and pointed out that a community can be maintained without power. As well as encouraging one to think about alternate forms of infrastructure.
    The sequel had just as much drama, but it was at once both similar and yet fresh. A few of the same characters, with just enough new ones thrown in there for interest.
    While I don’t agree with JHK on everything, he has written a couple of really good books.
    Definitely worth the time it might take to get them.


  3. Meagan Says:

    I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait for the sequel to arrive from the library! It was nice to read something so well written because unfortunately the types of fiction that I enjoy (survival, apocalyptic) generally pale in comparison. The story was interesting and I couldn’t put it down. I will definitely be searching out other books by this author. Thanks for the tip!


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