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World Made by Hand is the latest from James Howard Kunstler, author of "the Long Emergency" (about life after the end of easy access to oil) and "The Geography of Nowhere" about how bland and soulless strip mall and development centric America is. Anyway, I've been a bit fascinated by this whole petro-collapse theory lately and wanted to check this one out.

WMBH is a fictional account of life in one town in New York during the "Long Emergency." The residents of Union Grove have mostly adjusted to life with oil or electricity, and some of the book focuses on the mundane nature of everday life in this new world. A couple of plot lines develop: A murder, a missing trader boat, a new religious sect moving into town, and others.


Overall I was impressed. Kunstler can be a bit preachy but he's not a bad writer. There are few things about his writing style I didn't like - namely, that everyone seems to have reverted to speaking as if they were living in the mid-late 1800's - that might be the technology level of life in the long emergency, but it just seems an awkward regression in the way people talk. He also spends a lot of time talking about food...growing, preparing, storing it...it would have been nice to see him flesh out a little more of other aspects of this world.

I would have also liked to see a little more of the history of how the end comes...as society transitions from what it is today to Kunstler's world...he makes a few references to trouble in the cities, pandemic flu, nukes going off in DC and LA...but there are many questions to fill in. Of course, by not doing so he leaves himself room for both prequels and sequels.
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