Shop now Shop Now Shop now Shop Cyber Monday Deals Week in Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Amazon Fire TV Shop now DIYED Shop now Shop Fire Kids Edition Shop Kindle Voyage Listen in Prime Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars68
4.4 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 19 April 2014
I'd been looking forward to reading this book before its publication as it sounded like a great idea but also such a monumental undertaking; I wasn't sure how Dartnell was going to tackle the entirety of human science and engineering in ~350 pages. His approach made a lot of sense, and I have to commend him in sticking to a logical and 'first-principles' approach that kept me interested and engaged throughout. It wouldn't be possible (or make for a very interesting read) to do it any other way! After finishing it I felt I had a renewed respect and perspective on how far we've come, but also how quickly we could fall given how distantly removed many of us are from the ideas and processes that keep our advanced societies ticking over. I feel grateful to the many, mostly nameless, giants on whose shoulders we stand as they slowly chipped away at the rockface of progress to deliver us to the point at which I could read this book on a tiny handheld device weighing next-to-nothing whilst sitting on a plane! The Knowledge will help us pick up the pieces should we stumble, and should be required reading for everyone.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 9 April 2015
This is a very informative book with a lot of fascinating detail. It is basically a thought experiment. If most of humanity was wiped out in the morning and a handful of people remained, could they survive and rebuild modern technology? To determine this, Dartnell looks how these technologies were originally developed and any possible short cuts which the survivors could take.

The ‘apocalypse’ itself described in book was very clinical but this book is not meant to be a blow-by-blow instruction manual. I couldn’t see survivors sitting around it deciding what to do on Day 24. However, it does contain a lot of high level technological insight that a post-apocalyptic Edison or Pasteur might find useful and could spend years of their lives trying to leverage.

The book is apolitical. Its focus is the technology. If you need advice on how to hang on to your post-apocalyptic fiefdom, consult Machiavelli, Sun Tzu and other experts in such matters. Oh, the book doesn’t cover killing zombies either.

Some readers might find the advanced chemistry section a bit of a drudge, but I can’t see how Dartnell could avoid that, given leaving it out would undermine the book’s purpose. On the flip side, it provides useful context for any fledgling chemistry students.

The footnotes throughout the book are consistently very interesting. I think any writer interested in world building would find the book very useful.

One thing to note is that the book is shorter than it appears. About the last 20% is filled with references, including a useful list of relevant fiction.

One final word of advice. If you want to tuck this away for the apocalypse, so you can amaze the other survivors with your scientific knowhow, remember to buy the paperback, not the ebook. Unless you’re really sure you can get those generators up and running.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 4 June 2014
There are several ways you could look at this book;

A manual for restarting civilisation
A fascinating insight into what underpins our way of life
The stuff our grandparents knew and we forgot

Take your pick! It's a good read if you're interested in how things work. I hope they pop a few copies on the shelves along with the seed bank at Svalbard.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2014
Following a review in the Times, I thought I'd dip in.

This covers a lot of stuff and gives some basic ideas on how to do things. Hopefully I will never need to know any of these. What would be great is a series of 'projects' to achieve some of the things talked about - i.e. detailed information on making butter, smoked food etc so that we could try some of these things out.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Lewis Dartnell has put into one volume more useful information on the underpinnings of our society than I have ever seen in one place. Every schoolchild should read this.

It's not a complete manual, for it would have been infeasibly large in that case, but it is a great guide, and being reasonably educated in technology and science, I still learned a lot. In a few cases, you'd like just a bit more explanation, but again, it's one small volume.

In one way, it can also be read as a novel in a unique (to me) second person future tense format- "you are going to............", although don't take that analogy too far.

Later on in the book, it does seem as if LD has got a bit bored, and one or two items are a bit peremptory, but it remains highly enjoyable.

I checked a few numbers which seemed Ok, but I think I spotted one mistake. On p280, he requires that the tube in a glass barometer be a constant diameter- I don't think that's right, as the pressure is affected only by height of a fluid column, not volume. Any thoughts out there? Oh, I think I see now, calibration would be hard if not constant diameter-it wouldn't be linear. Too pedantic as ever.....
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 24 May 2014
Nice idea, to base a book about basic technological procesess and how to reindustialise from scratch on the scenario that man has somehow been almost wiped out. Trouble is that one soon gets the - correct - impression that the author is writing about subjects of which he is no expert. He also leaves out swathes of information that on would think wolud be covered - eg he talks about growing crops but says nothing about animal husbandry. And what about fishing. Wouldnt that be higely useful? So how do you make fishing rods and nets and fish traps?He discusses using woool for clothing but what about tanning leather? He'll waffle on about the flying shuttle but at the end i am no wiser about how it works and i get the impression that he doesnt know either. Neither are the details of the chemical reactions he mentions gone into. This book is definately not a survivalist s handbook, and neither is it much about the science behind basic technolgies. If the modern world ends you will want experts around with practical experience of how to "reboot" civilisation from zero and communicate that knowledge - this author is not one of them.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 26 May 2014
I'm no 'prepper', I'm just very, very well-read, but I was astonished how much of the stuff in this book used to be 'common knowledge' in science and text books I still half-remember. Now, such interesting but off-curriculum material has been squeezed out. Libraries shun it as irrelevant. It may be 'out there' on the wwweb, but...

A cautionary note; technically, this is a 'work in progress'. I'd hope that the second or third edition will be printed on 'acid free' paper, so endure until required. Similarly, I'd hope this book may spawn a set of supplementary volumes, a modest return to those well-thumbed 'home cyclopaedia' works beloved of grannies and aunts...
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 30 May 2014
An excellent instruction on how to re-build civilisation when necessary. I wouldn't wish to re-biold it, however, can do without it.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I make no secret of the fact that I am obsessed with the idea of the apocalypse, and of post-apocalyptic society. For that reason, I am a terrible judge of post-apocalyptic literature and cinema - I even enjoyed the Postman. I'm also a big fan of books as physical, tangible things. So, a book like this is right up my alley.

In most respects, it is absolutely what it should be - it's not just a book that tells you about core technologies and processes, it's a book that highlights how much we take for granted about modern society. Every chapter in that respect is a humbling experience - I realised how little I knew outside of my own fields of specialism. That said, it's not an easy read - it's information dense, and parts of it need to be properly studied and digested. That's inevitable in a book like this, of course, but the corresponding impact of that is to highlight the holes in the explanation where the necessary thinking and discussion isn't fully joined up. I know the book doesn't legitimately purport to be a genuine start up guide' for post-apocalyptic society, but I think it could have benefited more from some proper coherent structuring and cross-referencing.

But, a book I found utterly absorbing and well worth a place on anyone's physical bookshelf. If there are enough copies of these around when the zombies inevitably come upon us, we might find things a little easier to start up once more.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 May 2015
Amazing. I prefer the original, less sensationalist title, but this fantastic book rekindled in me a youthful fascination in science and technology. If only things were this interesting when I was at high school! Whilst reading this book, I couldn't help myself discussing various human endeavours and achievements with friends and relatives in the pub and at the dinner table. Since reading it, I've been inspired to take up growing my own vegetables, and to volunteer at my local (still functioning) Victorian windmill.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Customers who viewed this item also viewed

Art of Eating Through the Zombie Apocalypse
Art of Eating Through the Zombie Apocalypse by Wilson (Paperback - 13 Nov. 2014)

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.