The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch – Book Review

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This post is by Bernie Carr,


I had an opportunity to review The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch by Lewis Dartnell.

If you happen to survive “the end of the world as we know it” (TEOTWAWKI) with civilization is in shambles and most of the population killed off, how would you go about rebuilding?  What type of information would you need?

Dr. Lewis Dartnell, the author, explores the complex technologies comprising modern life today:  clean water, food, clothing, agriculture, hygiene, medicine, fuel, building materials, transportation, etc.  He tells the story of innovation and how things developed over many years, sometimes by luck or happenstance.  Dr. Dartnell is a UK Space Agency research fellow at the University of Leicester, specializing in astrobiology.  He knows all about “how things work” and I like that he explains everything in layperson’s terms.

The Knowledge covers a broad range of subjects and knowledge needed to give civilization a reboot.  This is assuming of course that roving bands of violent pillagers are not out to kill off the residents of your fledgling town.  I think one of the issues I had with the book was it has an idealized set of circumstances on which civilization would be jump-started.

On the other hand, I enjoyed reading through the chemistry and processes behind such things as fermentation, soap, electricity, what keeps vehicles running, etc.  For preppers, there are also multiple interesting nuggets of information throughout every part of the book.  For example, the water and food sections cover good sources of water, good containers to scavenge, what foods would be likely to keep after the apocalypse, and more..  This is not a “how to” manual, but it does give the average reader a broad understanding of what it would take to get civilization back on track.

Reading The Knowledge gave me pause and allowed me to stop and think about all the technology we rely on every day of our lives, yet take for granted.   Although it might be difficult, should TEOTWAWKI happen, it is doable, with the right set of circumstances, to rebuild and regain what is lost.

© Apartment Prepper 2015


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    1. Hi Karen, The Knowledge is indeed interesting, but is completely different from One Second After. The Knowledge is like a text book that explores various fields of knowledge that would be needed to give civilization a restart based on what we have now; it is broad overview, while One Second After was a fiction story that showed how survivors in one town fared after the collapse. Thanks for the comment!

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