The second book in the post economic collapse novel series World Made by Hand written by James Kunstler called The Witch of Hebron further delves into the story of survivors in a small upstate New York town after the total collapse of the United States. (Read About Book One Here) As the title implies, this post economic collapse novel crosses into some supernatural territory with the introduction of a witch (or is she a prostitute) that has some rather “unique” abilities. A comment made about our review of World Made by Hand seems even more relevant with this book: “I took a lot of the behavior to be more in keeping with the wish fulfillment of a libertine aging boomer author.” (Thanks Russell1200) This witch just happens to be the most beautiful and seductive woman alive! (paraphrasing the inner commentary of every man who sees her). While this reader has no problems with a writer embellishing their story to explore some fantasies, it could be annoying to some, especially to the female gender. But alas, surely most fans of apocalyptic fiction would not be terribly offended by some fairly descriptive scenes? Anyway, the book is more of a coming of age story following a boy that runs away from home and gets involved with a sociopath, villainous thief and wannabe cowboy who happens to be on a murderous rampage. If you liked World Made by Hand, you will probably enjoy The Witch of Hebron. It isn’t the best post shit hit the fan novel but it is entertaining.
World Made by Hand is a captivating post apocalyptic novel written by peak oil speculator James Howard Kunstler who is perhaps best known for his non-fiction work The Long Emergency. World Made by Hand provides some interesting speculation about life in a post-cheap-oil America where a series of terrorist attacks, subsequent wars and an uncontrolled pandemic brings the world economy to a grinding halt. The story follows Robert Earle through some of his post apocalyptic trials and tribulations in a small northeastern New York town. While Union Grove is not without serious problems it has fared well relative to other regions, perhaps due to its more remote location and its distance from the terrorist attacks. Actually, in some ways it is thriving. With the recent arrival of a resourceful and well-organized religious sect, the town is in the midst of a rebirth of sorts, only as the title implies, this world is made without the benefit of machines. In some ways World Made by Hand explores some topics that aren’t often considered in this type of fiction. For example, with the often brutally shortened lifespans, particularly among the male population, the protagonist Robert sees more than his fair share of “activity” with the ladies shall we say. Though there is a certain religious vein throughout the book, Robert, who is a basically good man, is not necessarily a subscriber to God and acts somewhere on the fringes of Christian morality. For the people left in this world, the abundance of “free love”, pot and alcohol offers them only a small reprieve from their violent and sometimes brutal existence. A certain ingenuity and pioneering spirit flows through the story that this reader found energizing and somehow inspiring. If people can accomplish so much with their bare hands through cooperation, surely we can do even more with all of the machinery and energy at our disposal. World Made by Hand is a good book that should be added to your “must read” post apocalyptic reading list!
V for Vendetta meets the American Patriot. Isn’t it interesting how the ideas of self-sufficiency and smaller government have indeed become revolutionary in modern times? Wouldn’t many of us be on a POI (person of interest) list In an era where taking responsibility for the well-being of yourself and your family is considered subversive by the powers that be. Glen Tate’s 299 Days series forces a person to question their ever-increasing dependence on a bloated, incompetent and corrupt government. In The Stronghold, the fourth book in the 299 Days series, the faltering economy has the government on the ropes, grasping to power through bribery, propaganda and downright thuggery. The economy has failed on a massive scale. Food, fuel and medical supplies are becoming scarce. The government is handing out electronic ration cards called “FCards” to feed the masses. These “FCards” are funded through the confiscation of funds in bank accounts and 401K’s which people can no longer access. Unfortunately, through desperation, many people, especially in larger urban areas, are happy to get help from the government and eagerly hand over the last of their civil liberties for these rations. In contrast, Pierce Point, while dealing with the same scarcity, is becoming a bastion for common sense cooperation. People are looking for a simpler, practical, common sense approach to community. Don’t misunderstand, Pierce Point isn’t some self-sufficient, Constitutional utopia but Grant Matson, his friends and neighbors are willing to work together in a fair and common sense way that might just make our grandparents proud. The Stronghold presents some compelling possibilities and is an insightful exploration into the all too real possibility of an economic collapse.
The third book of Glen Tate’s economic collapse series 299 Days called The Community is a fascinating exploration into the nature and function of both large and small groups of people and how they form a society. With the world coming apart at the seams in an inflationary depression, many of the functions of modern government have been returned to the community. This is especially true in the Pierce Point area where Grant, his family, friends and neighbors reclaim the burden of responsibility for maintaining their own well-being. Each level of the community, starting with the family unit, cooperates to address specific concerns like safety and security. Grant Matson, being a politically insightful person, uses both his “team” of civilian gunfighters and his ER Doctor wife as political capital to gain access to the Pierce Point’s inner circle. The Community is formed with the premise of providing safety and security for its residents. In contrast, we watch as the government of Washington State, operating from within a National Guard base, is actually using the collapse as an opportunity to increase their control by dissolving many of the remaining civil liberties. They seek to enhance their power by seizing private operations such as the transport and food production in order to provide basic necessities to a large portion of the population, namely the larger urban centers. Additionally, the government has taken over the savings and retirement accounts of millions of people in order to pay for its new safety net. It is really an interesting contrast, with Grant and his people rallying to become more self-sufficient and the government seeking to actually increase public dependence as a way to maintain control and to increase their power. The Community is a very well-considered and detailed account of how new communities may form and how the powers that be may react to a widespread economic collapse. On another level, The Community really is a common sense exploration into the very nature of human cooperation.
You’re probably asking yourself, “what do eggs have to do with the 299 Days series…has this guy lost his mind?…maybe he’s been reading too much of the doomer stuff?” Well, I’m glad you asked. Eggs are significant on a number of different levels but on a very basic level, leaving their genetic/reproductive aspects aside, they are simply a nice little package of nutrients and energy. These eggs just happen to be today’s harvest from our 12 hens that are starting to produce now on a regular basis. To me these eggs represent the beginning of a return to a more self-sufficient lifestyle similar to the one that Glen Tate envisions in his 299 Days series. This series presents some important and powerful ideas that I think would be beneficial to the lives of millions of people. Hopefully, through this giveaway for the first 4 books in the 299 Days series, which features a worldwide economic collapse, others will wake up to reality and start to fend for themselves rather than depending on help that may never arrive. Learn more about the 299 Days series @ http://299days.com and check out some of the podcast interviews listed below.
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Glen Tate Interviews:
In Survivors, James Wesley Rawles explores the same economic disaster that occurs in Patriots from a different perspective, mostly through a new cast of characters. While the story covers the first years of “The Crunch” in the southwestern United States, the most interesting and unique part of Survivors is the story of the newly discharged American Army Captain Andrew Laine and his journey back home to New Mexico from Afghanistan. With fuel shortages, violence and chaos reigning, Captain Laine is forced to find his own way back to the United States. He travels through post-shit hits the fan (shtf) Germany, France, England, crosses the atlantic ocean to Belize, then finally goes through Mexico and into the US. Much like he does in Patriots, Rawles provides copious details in his descriptions and, with the steady stream of bible passages, the book seems tailored with a fairly specific reader in mind. While the in-depth, detailed information is useful in terms of gaining knowledge, it makes the reading tedious at times. For example, when a character encounters a new gun, Rawles goes into considerable details on the history, mechanics, durability, range and effectiveness of the weapon, making the internal dialogue and narration slightly monotonous and unrealistic. The conversations in morse code are downright painful to get through. To give credit where credit is due, Rawles has packed a lot of useful prepping information into this book. He provides detailed information on a variety of topics including the possible uses of gold and silver as currency, using morse code via ham radio, weapons, food, fuel and even gives basic instructions on how to make molotov cocktails. If you are able to handle the sometimes “preachy” chapter introductions, a lot can be learned from Survivors. Rawles writes informative, “how-to” books in a fictional format. Unfortunately, the fictional aspect often takes a back seat to his strong religious message and “prepping” information. That being said, I would read Survivors again for its crisis preparation advice and its interesting speculation about world travel after an economic disaster.
For those of you that are interested in learning more about James Wesley Rawles and disaster preparation, visit his blog at http://www.survivalblog.com/ . In case you aren’t familiar with his site, it is actually one of the most popular blogs in the survival/prepping arena and will provide you with a practically endless amount of useful information.
In the second book of the 299 Days Series, The Collapse, we see the early stages of an economic collapse scenario. In The Collapse, Glen Tate captures some of the unpredictable nature of real life. Events seldom go as planned and they certainly don’t for Grant Matson, who has gone to great lengths to prepare for the safety of his family in the hard times ahead. With so many factors beyond his control, preparation for every situation just isn’t possible. People will make poor decisions, especially when they are blinded by their belief that everything will return to normal, otherwise known as the “normalcy bias”. This is when people just can’t accept that their situation has changed drastically. Often they will disregard or even ignore evidence from their environment that indicates that the new situation is different and indeed dangerous. Grant’s wife Lisa embodies the concept of normalcy bias perfectly. Living her entire life under the shelter of normal, civilized conditions, Lisa is unable to see that the rules have changed with the apparent lack of police and emergency response. It becomes clear after reading this book that normalcy bias is already a widespread phenomenon. How many people do you know that would ignore a collapse situation until it was no longer possible? Oh wait, that would include almost everybody, wouldn’t it?…Most people today carry on with “life as usual”, ignoring every indication that we are indeed on the precipice of some economic calamity. If such a collapse did occur, we are talking a major shift in thinking. …[start of rant…as small, personal example of how self-sufficiency goes so much against the grain, recently with the new addition of 12 hens to the family, I had someone ask me “…you ever hear of a grocery store?”, in a very sarcastic way. For a while, I actually considered this comment, even to the point where I doubted my own efforts. However, after some consideration, I realized that it was this other person that was indeed deluded…The idea that things just come from “somewhere else” with no thought of what this “somewhere else” is all about could just be part of the problem with the modern world. Collapse illustrates what happens when that “somewhere else” becomes “right here, right now”. “The buck stops here” or maybe it always did, except for the thin veil of modern society. Maybe our modern culture was constructed to keep this cold, hard reality at bay. Anyway, I digress. Rant complete]… Without going into too much detail to spoil the book, Lisa is in for a wakeup call. 299 Days: The Collapse does make some political commentary, but I think it goes beyond the traditional right/left political paradigms. I have yet to hear a good argument against the benefits of personal responsibility. So far I am very impressed with the 299 Days Series! The Collapse is a great story with an excellent message, useful information and realistic, likeable characters. I’m really looking forward to the release of the next books in the series!