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Long Descent: A User's Guide to the End of the Industrial Age [Paperback]

John Michael Greer
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
Price: 12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

9 Jan 2008 The Internet writings of John Michael Greer - beyond any doubt the greatest peak oil historian in the English language - have finally made their way into print. Greer fans will recognize many of the book's passages from previous essays, but will be delighted to see them fleshed out here with additional examples and analysis.The Long Descent is one of the most highly anticipated peak oil books of the year, and it lives up to every ounce of hype. Greer is a captivating, brilliantly inventive writer with a deep knowledge of history, an impressive amount of mechanical savvy, a flair for storytelling and a gift for drawing art analogies. His new book presents an astonishing view of our society's past, present and future trajectory--one that is unmatched in its breadth and depth. Reviewed by Frank Kaminski The Long Descent is a welcome antidote to the armageddonism that often accompanies peak oil discussions. "The decline of a civilization is rarely anything like so sudden for those who live through it" writes Greer, encouragingly; it's "a much slower and more complex transformation than the sudden catastrophes imagined by many soical critics today." The changes that will follow the decline of world petroleum production are likely to be sweeping and global, Greer concludes, but from the perspective of those who live through them these changes are much more likely to take gradual and local forms. Reviewed by Bruce Sterling Americans are expressing deep concern about US dependence on petroleum, rising energy prices, and the threat of climate change. Unlike the energy crisis of the 1970s, however, there is a lurking fear that now the times are different and the crisis may not easily be resolved. The Long Descent examines the basis of such fear through three core themes: * Industrial society is following the same well-worn path that has led other civilizations into decline, a path involving a much slower and more complex transformation than the sudden catastrophes imagined by so many social critics today. * The roots of the crisis lie in the cultural stories that shape the way we understand the world. Since problems cannot be solved with the same thinking that created them, these ways of thinking need to be replaced with others better suited to the needs of our time. * It is too late for massive programs for top-down change; the change must come from individuals. Hope exists in actions that range from taking up a handicraft or adopting an "obsolete" technology, through planting an organic vegetable garden, taking charge of your own health care or spirituality, and building community. Focusing eloquently on constructive adaptation to massive change, this book will have wide appeal. John Michael Greer is a certified Master Conserver, organic gardener, and scholar of ecological history. The current Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA), his widely-cited blog, The Archdruid Report ( deals with peak oil, among other issues. He lives in Ashland, Oregon.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers (9 Jan 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865716099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865716094
  • Product Dimensions: 22.1 x 15.2 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 302,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

John Michael Greer is a certified Master Conserver, organic gardener and scholar of ecological history. His widely-cited blog, The Archdruid Report, deals with peak oil. He is the author of The Long Descent and lives in Ashland, Oregon.

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The long view 9 April 2010
Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase
John Michael Greer's the Long Descent is a very valuable addition to the Peak Oil literature. He brings a unique deep historical perspective, combined with an ecological perspective on human societies. He really does present the long view, thinking ahead not just decades but centuries into the future. He analyses the role two powerful narratives have on our view of what is facing us - the myth of progress and the myth of the acopalyse - and makes it clear how both of these are blocking us as individuals and as a society from facing up to the likely future of gradual decline into a post fossil fuel society. The book was published in 2008, before oil hit $147 a barrel and before the financial crash, but is remarkably prescient in predicting both of these as likely occurences. He paints a broad canvas but also gives some useful ideas on how we as individuals can adapt to a post-peak world, including rethinking our current work and if it will be viable in the coming years.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A real eye opener that gives the reader a completly new perspective about the future of our civilization. If you think that things can only get better this book is a real wake-up call. A must read for anyone interested in the factors that contribute to the rise and fall of Empires especially the one we are currently living in.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it! 2 Sep 2010
Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase
Brilliant - a very well written description of just how unsustainable our society is, and what we can expect to happen to it. But it isn't all doom and gloom, so despite drawing on the same evidence as other studies of our planet's ecological limits, the conclusion is positive. I found I raced through this book eagerly, and now want to re-read it but need to prise it away form other family members first.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catabolic collapse 22 Dec 2012
As a recovering cornucopian, I consider "The Long Descent" to be one of the best books I've ever read. The author, John Michael Greer, is quite a character and has also penned books on ritual magic, UFOs and monsters. He is currently heading a Neo-Druid group and apparently lives in the Appalachians.

"The Long Descent" is a book about our present ecological crisis. It's one of those rare books that really speak for themselves. It includes chapters on our present predicament, the future decline and fall of modern civilization, what we can do to adapt, and various philosophical issues.


Greer says surprisingly little about climate change, perhaps because he believes that our situation is dire enough even if we assume that climate change is less dramatic than most scientists predict. The main problem is that modern civilization is unsustainable, being almost entirely dependent on cheap oil, gas, coal and uranium. These non-renewable resources are running out, oil in particular. Greer believes that "peak oil" was reached already around 2005.

During the 1970's, Western civilization did take important steps towards sustainability. These gains were eradicated almost overnight when new oil fields were discovered in Alaska and the North Sea around 1980. By deliberately flooding the markets with new oil, British and American interests made the oil prices crash, effectively forcing all "Green" initiatives into bankruptcy (ironically, nuclear energy was also badly hit by the oil bonanza). After 30 lost years of uncontrolled oil-dependency, peak oil has finally arrived, finding our society more or less unprepared for the consequences.

Greer doesn't believe that oil can be replaced. Coal, gas and uranium are being exploited at a breakneck speed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More balanced than most 2 July 2011
Having read several books on both peak oil and global warming I bought this on Amazon UK An was somewhat surprised when the author announced early in the book that he is a Druid. However, that is about the only mention Druidism gets, The book is a very good tour round the need to start preparations for a world less like the past 50 years and more like the past 500. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who thinks western "civilization" will continue and growth is the answer to all our ills. Sadly I do not really expect any politicians to take a blind bit of notice, but readers with children may want to think about the skills and education they pass on to them.
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35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'peak' into the future 26 Dec 2009
I was wary of Greer because of his connection with Druidry - memories of The Wicker Man don't recommend paganism of any hue, however 'enlightened'! Putting aside my reservations, I ploughed in and found page after page which needed to be annotated and stored for later pondering and discussion. His delineation between predicaments and problems was outstanding, prompting me to devise a post peak Jane Austen novel in reverse called Problems and Predicaments where a wealthy British woman has to sell all her goods in order to join a commune of permaculture farmers... The book looks at the spiritual problems of trying to wake people up to the coming decline, namely their thraldom to the myths of progress and science. I have tried to wake up my high school students to peak oil, but all they wanted to do was watch Matilda instead! Greer outlines a very different future to the technological one I grew up with in the early 60s - moon bases, space holidays, underwater cities. Where Greer differs from my own favourite curmudgeon, Jim Kunstler, is his explanation that societies take 250 years to decline and collapse, rather than the 'Road Warrior' vision where the oil runs out and the world turns into a nightmare of looting and Darwinistic struggles for survival. Greer uses the phrase 'catabolic' to describe where we are going - a study of how a society slowly eats itself up in the same way that a long distance runner will actually start to consume his own muscles without replacement nutrients. This catabolic process will be speeded up as we go past the peak of oil production - this may have already happened. What we face is a process of drawn out contraction and decline, where the chronically sick, the elderly, those with special needs, the lazy, the incompetent will be gradually weeded out from the gene pool. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars best commentator i know on where things are going
I don't review often, perhaps less than would be fair, but i will with this as i think Greer's message if more widely heard might, just might, help us all deal with what's coming. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Team Guido
4.0 out of 5 stars Peak-oil predictions
This book effectively describes the future after peak-oil. It doesn't include the additional effects of increased populations and higher aspirations for living standards in the... Read more
Published 15 months ago by BP Worrall
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read
We should all read and consider this idea, it seems the most likely outcome of our current situation I have ever come across!
Published 15 months ago by Daryl Newsome
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy read, interesting ideas.
A very refreshing middle ground between the apocalyptical "Preppers" and the head-in-the-sand ostriches. Read more
Published on 27 Mar 2012 by snowzz
5.0 out of 5 stars Gems on almost every page
Wow, what a book.

I don't personally go as far in the "back to basics" approach that Mr Greer sees as the outcome of the crises, but his analysis of the past, and the... Read more
Published on 13 Feb 2012 by A. Kauppi
4.0 out of 5 stars Eyopening, if a little academic
An eye opening book, and a pleasant change to all the apocalyptic survivalist stuff out there addressing peak oil. Read more
Published on 18 Oct 2010 by C. McAlister
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gem
This book presented thoughtful, alternative, well-reasoned and provocative agruments around 'peak oil' and its consequences. Read more
Published on 12 Jun 2010 by B. Gilligan
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