World Made by Hand is a dystopian novel by American author James Howard Kunstler, . Print/export. Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version. James Howard Kunstler's most recent social commentaries have pointed to mayhem — ranging from bad surburban planning to how the loss of. The World Jones Made PHILIP K. DICK ACE BOOKS, INC. Avenue of the Americas New York, N.Y. DESTINY WAS IN H.
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World Made by Hand book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. For the townspeople of Union Grove, New York, the future is not. The critically acclaimed World Made by Hand, is an astonishing work of speculative fiction that brings to life what America might be, a few decades hence . World Made by Hand: A Novel. ID.: GA Category: USmix/Data/US Rating.: /5 From Reviews. James Howard Kunstler. *Download PDF.
There are a number of things in this book that seem impossible to explain. But for the most part Kunstler does not describe the rifles, pistols, the amount of ammunition, etc. Streed, The Capitol Times Madison. 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. What has changed in Union Grove that makes Robert and Loren willing to go after Wayne Karp and his boys for burgling houses during the levee? Subtract another star for some absolutely ridiculous copy editing.
Alan Cheuse. James Howard Kunstler's most recent social commentaries have pointed to mayhem — ranging from bad surburban planning to how the loss of cheap oil might unravel the way we live. But his latest work — a return to fiction — offers a bit of reassurance. James Howard Kunstler began writing fiction decades ago, but then turned to social criticism, writing about energy crises and urban collapse. We begin in Union Grove, New York, and a few decades along into the new century.
Terrorist bombs have destroyed a number of big cities, and the oil supply has run out. But Robert Earle, protagonist of the book, doesn't feel it does any good to look back at all that's been lost. Earle is a software executive turned carpenter, and he's somehow come to terms with the loss of his family to the disaster that America has become.
He even manages to enjoy a world without electricity and gasoline, given the fact that Union Grove has running water drawn by gravity from the nearby Hudson River. He's got a mistress, too, in the wife of the local minister. And he ekes out a comfortable living as a fisherman and a handyman. The tranquility was pleasing, he tells us at the outset of his story, despite what it signified about what had happened to our society. Of course, things don't remain tranquil for long.
Earle soon finds himself a witness to a murder that the Union Grove inhabitants are almost wholly incapable of dealing with. He then takes a dangerous trip on horseback to search for some men who've gone missing in Albany, which Earle describes as having reverted to a frontier town. The stakes rise ever higher when Earle's Union Grove friends elect him mayor, placing him in a world of pain. No major suspensions of disbelief, until the end, where Kunstler seems to be hinting at the encroaching of supernatural elements.
As Brother Job says, "Science don't rule the roost no more. Well, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't terribly exciting, and I'm not inclined to sign up for the rest of the series to learn just how religious the author decides to get. Yes, our modern consumer lifestyle probably is unsustainable and many things are lost when everything is commercial and transient.
On the other hand, as the events in World Made By Hand show, it's not a great improvement to let the world be run by whoever has the most charisma and guns, and I have no faith in the nice folks of the New Faith Church not turning into witch-burning science-hating zealots given a generation or so to cement their power. So, while I feel a certain sympathy for the idea that the world would actually be a better place without Walmarts and reality TV, I'm not willing to throw out electricity, antibiotics, and indoor plumbing to get it.
View 2 comments. Jun 30, Moxie rated it it was ok. This book barely got that second star up there. I found this story sincerely disappointing because it was a concept that I was interested in the whole what happens when modern life as we know it comes to an end and it was done badly.
I found most, if not all, of the characters two-dimensional and often felt like the author was pushing me to care about them and what was happening to them without giving me any real reason to do so.
It also felt to me that the plot meandered as though the author g This book barely got that second star up there.
It also felt to me that the plot meandered as though the author got halfway through writing the book before he settled on what he ultimately wanted to happen to the characters. But, my biggest gripe of all with this particular novel was how much of it I found insulting. Clearly, the author's concept is that when modern life as we know it fails, the world reverts back to an almost 19th Century existence.
Apparently, included in that vision, is an anticipation that women's roles in society will also revert back to a 19th Century existence. I find that neither plausible, nor acceptable. All the female characters in this book seem to be there merely to serve the male character's lustful needs or to make them dinner.
There is nothing wrong with men lusting after women in books or for women to make their man dinner, but when that is their only function in a post-apocalyptic world, what is the point of having them in a story at all? I didn't necessarily want or expect this book to have a strong female character.
It just irritated me that the female characters that were there were so pathetic. While I have no desire to read any other books by this author as a result of this experience, I did go ahead and give it two stars. In part that was because I found the author's descriptions both of the landscape and the society's efforts at rebuilding interesting enough to keep plodding along even while disliking the actual story. So, while that doesn't say much for the book, it is an indication that I didn't dislike it enough to toss it aside entirely.
Bottom line: Interesting concept, very badly done. Mar 12, Jim rated it liked it Shelves: I have an ARC copy but I'm assuming it is fairly close to the published version. It was a pretty good book. I didn't think much of some of his premises for the end of our civilization, but it worked well enough for the situation he painted. He certainly made that point well.
I found most of it very realistic from I have an ARC copy but I'm assuming it is fairly close to the published version. I found most of it very realistic from the people to the buildings. I took away one star for the fantastic elements he introduced. I don't like spoilers, but anyone who has read the book will know what they are. I'm looking forward to reading the 'Long Emergency' by him.
Possibly I should have read it first. It aint sic fine literature, its a page-turner. Small chapters and an easy story make this book fly by. What makes it interesting to read, however, is the idea of having to start all over again Everything is a bit anachronistic, post-pre-modern I guess you could call it. You can see the roots of our modern conveniences, how the layers built up over years, improvements taking us one step further away from the basic knowledge o It aint sic fine literature, its a page-turner.
You can see the roots of our modern conveniences, how the layers built up over years, improvements taking us one step further away from the basic knowledge of how to survive off the land where we live.
It is energy that is the catalyst for the modern world, and in this story, the lack of energy that is our conveyance into a second Dark Age. The redistribution of labor, the lack of law and order, the weedy roots of religion sprouting up everywhere that fear lives or aught to, and the lack or scarcity of essential goods and foods all make this book a foreboding prophecy we should take to heart.
Wake up people! We can do this the easy way, or the hard way: View 1 comment.
Gritty storyline and some pukable action, however it was engrossing. Oct 11, Jason Pettus rated it really liked it. Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally. And just how self-righteously utopian does Kunstler get? Well, there are no drug addicts in his post-apocalyptic world, for example, despite marijuana and poppies now growing wild on the sides of the abandoned highways; and that's because in the universe of World Made by Hand , only the strong and noble have the will to survive, while those who are apathetic enough about life to do drugs in the first place have all died off long ago.
Sheesh, and you thought I was bitter! It's these details, then, that lead to the most notoriously eye-rolling elements of the book, the stuff its haters are always mentioning -- like how everyone for some unknown reason start dressing like the Amish after these post-apocalyptic events, how all the men for some reason all decide to grow big bushy hippie beards and start wearing bolo ties, how for some reason everyone in the s suddenly starts speaking in the most corpone, faux-country dialect this side of a Little House on the Prairie episode.
Although to be fair, even Kunstler admits in the book that this is simply a look at one random town where everything just happened to go right; although they receive little news of the outside world in this novel, it's heavily insinuated that the rest of the US hasn't survived the apocalypse in nearly as good a shape as the idyllic rural town that is our focus, with it being implied that slavery has been reinstated in the Deep South, and that a state of Mad-Max anarchy exists pretty much everywhere west of Denver.
It can get silly for sure, but at least the fundamentals of character, plot and style are all rock-solid, making World Made by Hand an imminently readable and even thought-provoking reflection of its Bushist times. For those with a high tolerance for occasional cheesiness, it comes strongly recommended.
Out of And that's why, by the time of Obama's re-election in , I predict that large sections of the American Midwest will be forced to eat their own babies for mere survival. May 03, Sarah rated it it was ok Recommends it for: What is it about the end of the world as we know it that reverts women back into homemakers, capable of little more than washing, cooking, handicrafts and child-rearing - and in need of a big, strong man to protect them?
Is it because a return to a more primitive form of society brings with it a return to more primitive gender roles? Or is it because most post-apocalyptic stories are written by men? As the narrator of James Howard Kunstler's "A World Made By Hand" says, "as the world changed, we What is it about the end of the world as we know it that reverts women back into homemakers, capable of little more than washing, cooking, handicrafts and child-rearing - and in need of a big, strong man to protect them?
As the narrator of James Howard Kunstler's "A World Made By Hand" says, "as the world changed, we reverted to social divisions that we'd thought were obsolete. The egalitarian pretenses of the high-octane decades had dissolved and nobody even debated it anymore, including the women of our town. When times are tough, and all hands are needed on deck, would we really have the luxury of caring whether that cart was built by a man or a woman?
Despite a little lecturing on environmental issues that may strike some as irritating, or as stating the obvious - and despite some bizarre, out-of-place supernatural twists near the end, not to mention an ending that felt totally slapped together at the last minute as if the author had gotten bored and needed to quickly wrap this thing up - it's not bad.
Kuntsler went for broke - apparently a nuclear attack on Washington, D. I kind of like that - go big, or go home, right? He paints a vivid picture of what life might be like after all that - a return to subsistence farming, bartering, simple pleasures, and hardship.
Better-written than "Alas, Babylon," - but not on the same level as, say, "The Road. Jun 17, Jeb rated it really liked it. A post-apocalypse story that's not too heavy on the gloom. The government has disintegrated and the lights have flickered out.
Kunstler only alludes to the cause, which seems to be an amalgam of climate change and global battles over resources mainly oil. World Made by Hand explores the tension between these two elements.
The plot moves quickly A post-apocalypse story that's not too heavy on the gloom. The plot moves quickly and the characters are well drawn.
Kunstler does a good job of describing the details of life that have changed since the economy and food supply became completely local. The writing is so-so, and occasionally a very contemporary and ham-fisted political ideology creeps through. Even though I sympathize with his left-of-center viewpoint and I hate Walmart too it seemed unnecessary and came across as slightly pedantic in the book.
I recommend World Made by Hand. It was fascinating to consider what daily life would be like if our current world went "offline. It wouldn't be a communal utopia, but it wouldn't be a Hobbesian hell either.
Life would be physically grueling, stressful, and painful when visiting the dentist who would lack anesthesia , but it would also offer the possibility of tighter communities and greater engagement with the natural world. Jul 23, Dawn rated it really liked it. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers.
To view it, click here. Not-quite-apocalyptic, but pretty close. Life in the USA after LA and DC are bombed, there may be a president, and he may be in Minneapolis but no one really knows , and the Mexican flu wipes out half the population.
Still reading Wait a minute! I just finished reading this and the author must have 1 gotten tired or 2 decided on a sequel.
What's with the "mother" character? What about the beehive rooms in the school? I live in upstate New York. I'm not very familiar with Washington County, the primary setting of this book, but I am familiar with downtown Albany and the surrounding suburbs. I was pleasantly surprised by the accuracy in his geography of the area and references to state government until he spelled Duanesburg wrong he spelled it Duanesberg , which really upset me because that's my hometown.
I know that this may sound trivial, but if a local author is going to use his home region as the setting I live in upstate New York.
I know that this may sound trivial, but if a local author is going to use his home region as the setting for a post apocalyptic saga, you'd think he'd spell the names of towns correctly. As for the book itself - not a fan. The catastrophic events that led to this post apocalyptic world are shady at best. All I could gather was no one wanted to trade with the U. The idea that society could deteriorate so quickly didn't seem plausible to me.
Shadiness tends to be a theme with James Howard Kunstler - for example - this New Faith tribe that buys the high school and turns it into a self sustaining home. How did they find Union Grove? How did they manage to buy the high school without no one in town finding out? In a small town made even smaller by this strange Mexican flu epidemic, you'd think they notice a band of strangers looking at real estate.
What about their "queen bee" who does nothing buy lounge in a bed eating corn bread and telling the future? And what Minor and Wayne Karp's identical wounds, except Karp's body shows no evidence of a bullet? Am I really supposed to believe that Jesus killed a man by mimicking gun shot wounds the man inflicted on another man?
James Howard Kunstler also does a great job of showing how women are virtually useless in a post apocalyptic society except for cooking, cleaning, and having sex with the available men. Women played no part in making town decisions or in solving town problems.
Kunstler goes as far as to say, in regard to the town's board of trustees, "All the trustees are men; no women and no plain laborers. As the world changed, we reverted to social divisions that we'd thought were obsolete. As a woman, Mr. Kunstler, let me tell you one thing - I highly doubt that women would forgo all of the rights and freedoms we've fought so long and hard for over the last years just because there is no oil and bombs decimated cities.
If it's do or die time, you can be damn sure that I'll be out there doing instead of sitting at home waiting to die. Nov 17, Jess rated it liked it Shelves: It's not very often that a book grabs me on page one and won't let me put it down until I've devoured the whole thing. This one did that. This world is incredibly vivid and all-too-possible these days, and the smallest details like the guy who has an almanac and will come around and set your mechanical clock for you, or the electricity coming on just long enough to provide a burst of radio preaching from who knows where are often the most arresting.
The narrator is a complex character whose vo It's not very often that a book grabs me on page one and won't let me put it down until I've devoured the whole thing. The narrator is a complex character whose voice resonates beautifully, and the struggle to survive while still maintaining shreds of civilization pushes the plot forward with incredible power. But come ON, Kunstler, where the hell are your strong women? Maybe five women in this book have actual lines, none of them talk to each other, and mostly what they do is make food for, then seduce, the men.
There's one desexualized oracle figure whose one-page cameo is never explained. Pretty much every other woman in the story is a wife or a whore. None of them are central to the plot.
I could possibly buy that 19th-century patriarchal values moved right in alongside the 19th-century technology, but that doesn't mean the women have to be mere objects. If your society is devolving into pioneer times, you have to make your women accordingly strong.
Pioneer women were fighters. They didn't just hang back and putter around the kitchen until it was time to open their legs and indulge the menfolk. I know there are more stories set in this universe, and hopefully yet more to come. Put a strong female character into the action next time and I'll be a fan for life.
I feel like I should probably add a coda to this review. A few weeks after I read it, I emailed the author to ask him politely, of course whether he'd considered that his female characters could be adding so much more to the story.
His incredibly condescending response came a day or so later. In it, he suggested that I didn't like the book because I didn't understand it, and that I never would unless I "move[d] beyond the gender programming of [my] generation. Wow, there are certainly some odd reviews of this book. I, on the other hand, loved this book: In short, it's the story of a man dealing with the natural change within a post-apocalyptic community once the worst of it ends and some semblance of society tries to get going again.
It's richly and realistically set, and addresses the real challenges and probable situations these people would find themselves in, and finds realistic solutions. It's perhaps the most 'optimistic' view of dystopia you'll Wow, there are certainly some odd reviews of this book. It's perhaps the most 'optimistic' view of dystopia you'll encounter, but afterwards you might well think as I did that perhaps Kunstler's view of a post-apocalypse America is MORE realistic than other writers visions precisely because it takes into account man's effort to rebuild and adapt to a new world.
Now, there ARE some things that I'm leaving out, and readers might enjoy or be thrown by them, but I don't think they can be discussed without spoiling the story at least a little. Kunstler does a great job of not only bringing his credentials as a writer on peak oil and apocalypse though, and the book is lushly written and he does a great job of evoking the landscape of his characters and their new relationship with the earth.
Some have complained that the book seems to imply society has simply rolled back to an 's world, complete with gender roles and language. I can see where they would complain about that, but it's not something I share as I feel the book presents a realistic idea of small community. Afterall, you speak intimately and directly to people thanks to either the supposed anonymity of the internet, or because you have an absolute confidence in the rule of law So I highly recommend this book, espially for those already reading dystopian fiction.
You might find this your favorite of the bunch! Apr 23, Cameron rated it it was amazing Shelves: One of the best post-apocalypse stories I've read, and it doesn't even have plague zombies or giant radioactive roaches. It does have a remarkably detailed and frighteningly plausible setting coupled with well-rounded, believable characters and a plot engine that is one of my favorites in PAW novels - the effort of people to create law and sanctions in a lawless world.
Of course, there are about a dozen other plot lines going on in this story - the loss of electricity and realization that it will One of the best post-apocalypse stories I've read, and it doesn't even have plague zombies or giant radioactive roaches. Of course, there are about a dozen other plot lines going on in this story - the loss of electricity and realization that it will probably never be seen again for generations, the struggle to maintain access to water, the quick education on farming, hunting, and gathering, the change in personal relationships, the rise of leaders, followers, bandit kings and religious zealots, the use of faith in politics, war, and survival.
If you like post-apocalypse novels just go out, buy this one and clear a spot for it on your shelf. Everyone else should pick this one up from the library at the least. The only way I could have enjoyed this book more is if it was about three times longer.
I was elated to discover that he has a sequel scheduled for release this fall, titled The Witch of Hebron. Apr 10, Anne rated it liked it. This book surprised me. At first, I was pleasantly surprised by the pastoral setting in this post-peak oil world. It's a unique treatment of the dystopian concept that was pretty engaging for the first half of the book--and fully believable.
That they seem to have reverted back to the language patterns of the frontier time This book surprised me. That they seem to have reverted back to the language patterns of the frontier times annoyed me, but I wrote it off to the fact that they're in rural upstate New York. However, the second half of the book kind of falls apart--the characters' lack of depth really begins to show, and Kunstler introduces some unnecessarily strange twists that do nothing to further the plot.
Frustratingly, the female characters have absolutely no dimension and very little role in the operation of society--except cooking. In the hands of a better writer this story could have had so much more power. That said, I'm still interested to read The Long Emergency, and now feel quite motivated to stock my home library with books that will help us live off the land, just in case.
Apr 08, Erica rated it really liked it. If you're reading these reviews you've heard all about the setting of this book so I won't repeat it but I will say that it really is the setting that makes this book. The author's vision of the future is interesting, thought provoking and unfortunately easy to imagine. I do wish he had gone further into telling us more about the lives of the survivors and the way they've come to live as it is very interesting.
The downside of this book is in the story. The plot is somewhat flimsy and trite- enj If you're reading these reviews you've heard all about the setting of this book so I won't repeat it but I will say that it really is the setting that makes this book. The plot is somewhat flimsy and trite- enjoyable to read but not exactly surprising or novel- and some of the characters lean towards being charicatures for example a certain leader who is an enemy at the end of the book.
Overall a good, quick, fun read. Mar 24, Ginny rated it liked it.
I like the idea of this book maybe a bit more than the book itself. I feel as if the author could have thought much more deeply on the implications of a fuel-free economy in terms of every day life. I also disagree that the outcome would be as gloom and doom as this book. Overall, pretty average writi I like the idea of this book maybe a bit more than the book itself. Overall, pretty average writing, but I liked it alright.
Jul 01, Mary rated it it was amazing. I gave this book five stars not because it was well written- it wasn't - nor because the story was cohesive - it wasn't - but because the amount of thinking and discussion it generated was astonishing.
It takes place in the near future, after enough awful events in the world have resulted in the collapse of government, community infrastructure, and widespread communication. There's only intermittent electricity, no cars because no gas, and no manufacturing of any kind , no wheat due to a fungus, I gave this book five stars not because it was well written- it wasn't - nor because the story was cohesive - it wasn't - but because the amount of thinking and discussion it generated was astonishing.
There's only intermittent electricity, no cars because no gas, and no manufacturing of any kind , no wheat due to a fungus, and many people have died from epidemics. The main character, a software executive turned carpenter, lives in a small town in upstate New York. The storyline has some big flaws including a sci-fi turn at the end that I found ridiculous. However, I couldn't stop thinking about how it would be if we found ourselves in this situation.
My husband and I took a two-week road trip during which we talked at length about what would happen. Who would come live with us on our land? Or would we move to town, as happened with most people in the book because lack of transportation made living apart from a community practically impossible? What are the ramifications of having no roads and no methods of transportation beyond foot?
Some people have horses, but they are scarce and you have to have the means to feed them. The book lays out a very believable and fascinating world that I can easily imagine coming to pass. I want everyone to read this so we can talk about it. Oct 04, Kati rated it really liked it. This book is awesome.
Set in up-state New York and the near future, after terrorist attacks have destroyed Washington D. Rule of law has all but collapsed. People are having to grow all their own food. Paper money is practically worthless. Electricity is sporadic at best and there is no news of the "outside world.
Really, I recommend it highly. Having said that, the author makes some assumptions about what people would "revert" to which I find dubious. Which is just to say that in the post-apocalyptic world depicted women and men live out traditional gender roles from the 's or so. People are also fairly violent in a way that reminds me of stories from King Arthur's day. Read the book anyway, though, by all means, read the book. Dec 01, Jim rated it it was amazing Shelves: Seldom do I finish a book and immediately hope that there will be or is a sequel, but that was the case with this book.
This is one of the best post-apocalyptic stories I have read, and I attempt a lot of them. It didn't try to overwhelm with gory detail or pile on gruesome encounters, or present fantastical means of overcoming a world unraveled, but delivers characters, communities, and conditions that are truly believable.
Even some that might raise eyebrows. The description and dialogue is Seldom do I finish a book and immediately hope that there will be or is a sequel, but that was the case with this book. The description and dialogue is about as perfect as I can remember for this genre. There is action and tough times, and evil adversaries, but they are not overwrought or overblown caricatures. The hero is down-to-earth and likable, as he takes on greater responsibility to improve and strengthen his community.
And much to my surprise and joy, there are sequels. Mar 15, Christina Ughrin rated it really liked it. I couldn't put it down. Kunstler's own biases and assumptions are clear including his disdain for suburbia. June Modern book - Kunstler 1 6 Jun 03, June Modern book - Kunstler 1 5 Jun 03, February