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World Made by Hand: A Novel
     

World Made by Hand: A Novel

4.0 64
by James Howard Kunstler
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Kunstler's name is mostly associated with nonfiction works like The Long Emergency, a bleak prediction of what will happen when oil production no longer meets demand, and the antisuburbia polemic The Geography of Nowhere. In this novel, his 10th, he visits a future posited on his signature idea: when the oil wells start to run dry, the world economy will collapse and society as we know it will cease. Robert Earle has lost his job (he was a software executive) and family in the chaos following the breakdown. Elected mayor of Union Grove, N.Y., in the wake of a town crisis, Earle must rebuild civil society out of squabbling factions, including a cultish community of newcomers, an established group of Congregationalists and a plantation kept by the wealthy Stephen Bullock. Re-establishing basic infrastructure is a big enough challenge, but major tension comes from a crew of neighboring rednecks led by warlord Wayne Karp. Kunstler is most engaged when discussing the fate of the status quo and in divulging the particulars of daily life. Kunstler's world is convincing if didactic: Union Grove exists solely to illustrate Kunstler's doomsday vision. Readers willing to go for the ride will see a frightening and bleak future. (Mar.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

This vision of life in upstate New York after the fall of civilization is poignant and personal compared with the main themes in other recent postapocalyptic novels-e.g., bare-knuckles survival in Cormac McCarthy's The Road, charismatic leadership in David Lozell Martin's Our American King, desperate migration in Jim Crace's The Pesthouse. Kunstler instead presents a detailed, granular perspective on the consequences that the breakdown of the government and the economy would have on everyday domestic living. He offers a real look at how people and communities would actually survive without the modern economic infrastructure upon which we rely. This novel does illustrate the violence of a lawless future, but it does so in a way that seems plausible, while maintaining some sense of hope. There is also a little mystery thrown in to sweeten the pot. This future is not completely dire, but it's grim enough to make us seriously consider how we would get by in a world made by hand. Highly recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ11/15/07.]
—Henry Bankhead

Kirkus Reviews
Kunstler's latest novel fictionalizes some of the material covered in his nonfiction work The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century (2005), which examined how a decline in oil production could have cataclysmic repercussions on modern industrial culture. After a bomb exploded in Los Angeles (attributed to an "act of Jihad"), narrator Robert Earle and his family moved to Union Grove, N.Y., but the economy has since collapsed and the citizens have found themselves atavistically involved in long-lost pursuits such as subsistence farming. The devastation has brought with it other effects, most notably the Mexican flu. Premature death, in fact, has claimed a substantial part of the populace, including Robert's daughter and his wife, who fell victim to an outbreak of encephalitis. So few single men now exist that women (even Jane Ann, wife of the Congregational minister) are shared between friends. In addition, civil authority has largely broken down (no one even knows whether Washington, D.C., still exists). Consequently, the locals are called upon to govern themselves. Into this anarchic breach step Brother Jobe and the members of the New Faith Church, a quasi-Amish band determined to reassert the rule of law. Pockets of lawlessness are rife, both in the personal corruption of local officials and in the sadistic, unholy gang of Wayne Karp, a character who leaves one begging for civilization. After a dull adventure to free a boat crew being held hostage by a local warlord on the Hudson, Robert and company return to Union City to clean up the mess. It's hard to imagine that a post-apocalyptic world could be this tedious. Agent: Adam Chromy/Artists &Artisans, Inc.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781555848378
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
01/19/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
90,582
File size:
334 KB

Meet the Author

James Howard Kunstler is the author of eight novels. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and an editor for Rolling Stone, and is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Sunday Magazine. He lives in upstate New York.

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World Made by Hand 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 64 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Halfway through reading this, I found out that Kunstler's previous works consisted mostly of historical works. This came to no surprise to me, as he seems to have a strong grasp on the human experience through important parts of history. Though Kunstler had many opportunities throughout the novel to preach about what current parts of the modern lifestyle lead to the end of the information age, he instead restrains himself and creates a seemingly unbiased account of people living and adjusting to the new world they find themselves in. His outlook is almost uplifting as the human spirit remains positive throughout the novel, and our narrator is typically optimistic in his reactions to whatever may come. I found this to be an absorbing read with characters I could easily relate to and care about. I suggest this highly to just about anyone.
bostntranslation More than 1 year ago
This book was a delight. They say it's a more emotional, less dreary 'The Road.' Which is true. This book makes you appreciate what we have, but more importantly, it makes you appreciate those in your life and the fragility of life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not what I thought it was going to be but still a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have enjoyed Kuntslers blog for quite a while and read another book or two of his. This one is a good fiction, a story about a guy in post oil America. Kuntsler stitches together a great tail, highlighting numerous issues that will befall us all once the oil is gone and we don't have cars, electricity and so forth to comfort our everyday lives. Lots of good stuff here for people who enjoy a good story, and also for communicating many of the issues of the future that's in store for us all.
Drewano More than 1 year ago
“A World Made By Hand” paints a vivid picture of what life could be like when all of the modern world’s conveniences are gone through lack of oil. If you’re looking for an action packed post apocalypse thriller this probably isn’t for you, but what it lacks in action it more than makes up for in storytelling. Everything from what has happened to make the world this way to the everyday actions of the characters are painted so vividly that you could practically be there. The characters are liable well thought out and the story is so interesting compared to other post-apocalyptic novels. While other novels are almost exclusively small groups or individuals trying to stay alive this book focuses on a whole community. I can’t wait to get into the other books in the series.
lauracorgi More than 1 year ago
I thought it was half done. It had a very inconclusive ending, like part of the book went missing. The story hinted at all sorts of developments but then dropped them all. There are some things that I didn't agree with at all. First, women just let men take over, although it seems that most survivors were past child bearing years. It seems that this book just added fuel to the fire that older women are undesirable and men are always seeking out mates the age of their daughters. Also, coyotes don't mate with wolves, coyotes don't run in packs. Wolves kill coyotes.
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BookWorm1932 More than 1 year ago
I read this novel being new to post-apocalyptic fiction, and I found it somewhat tedious to read. It had bad grammar, very flat character development, vapid dialogue and certain sections in the book stretched credibility. Its detour into the supernatural near the end was annoying and unnecessary. I found very little connection and had difficulty understanding the motivations of the characters in the novel, since they were so thinly drawn. For me this book raised interesting questions and gives a pretty good picture of what a world after oil would look like. But that is about the best it offered. I have no plans to read the sequel.
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Musadutoe More than 1 year ago
I have read many post disaster / alternative history novels and stories over the years and this is by far one of the best that I have ever read. As with most stories of this genre there is doom and gloom, but the author has a way a still providing a sense of humanity despite all that has transpired. From the first page the dialogue draws you in and you do not want to put the book down. If the author can maintain the same quality of writing, I would read 20+ novels in this series. I want to know more about these people and despite the slight oddity of Brother Jobe and his crew for the moment they work well with the story line.
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