Synopses & Reviews
In his previous book, celebrated social commentator James Howard Kunstler explored how the age of globalization and mankind's explosive progress over the last two hundred years was based on the availability of cheap fossil fuels. He observed that the terminal decline of oil production, combined with the perils of climate change, had the potential to put industrial civilization out of business.
Offering a shocking vision for the coming trauma of our post-oil future, The Long Emergency was a tremendous success and a best seller, selling over 100,000 copies. With World Made by Hand, an astonishing work of speculative fiction, Kunstler makes an imaginative leap into the future, a few decades hence, and shows us what life may be like following the long emergency. For the townspeople of Union Grove, New York, the future is not what they thought it would be. After the catastrophes converged the end of oil, climate change, global pandemics, and resource wars they are doing whatever they can to get by. 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. As the heat of summer intensifies our narrator, Robert Earle, former marketing executive turned carpenter, and his fellow residents of Union Grove struggle with the new way of life. Their challenges play out in a dazzling, fully realized world of abandoned highways and empty houses, horses working the fields and rivers replenished with fish.
Driven by realistic conflicts and peopled with relatable, engaging characters, World Made by Hand is a novel full of love and loss, violence and power, sex and drugs, depression and desperation, but also plenty of hope. This is an extraordinary book, sure to appeal to Kunstler's legion of fans as well as new readers attracted by the accomplished storytelling of an experienced writer.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"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." Library Journal
"Readers may be left uneasy not so much by Kunstler's just censure of the 'generation that screwed up the world' as his delight in reeducating the fallen." Los Angeles Times
"[M]ost readers will admit that Earle's world, the world made by hand, after all the terror bombs and bad actors and missing luxuries are dealt with, sounds at least as unpredictably pleasing as our own." Chicago Tribune
In the best-seller The Long Emergency, James Howard Kunstler explored how the terminal decline of oil production had the potential to put industrial civilization out of business. With World Made By Hand Kunstler makes an imaginative leap into the future, a few decades hence, and shows us what life may be like after these coming catastrophesthe end of oil, climate change, global pandemics, and resource warsconverge. For the townspeople of Union Grove, New York, the future is not what 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 arent sure. As the heat of summer intensifies, the residents struggle with the new way of life in a world of abandoned highways and empty houses, horses working the fields and rivers replenished with fish. A captivating, utterly realistic novel, World Made by Hand takes speculative fiction beyond the apocalypse and shows what happens when life gets extremely local.