The Knowledge by Lewis Dartnell

Subtitle: How to Rebuild Civilization in the Aftermath of a Cataclysm

Published: 2014

Genre: nonfiction technology

Length: 294 pages of text, 340 pages total

Interest: I found this book through a GeekDad post. The premise sounded interesting so I thought I’d read it.

Summary: The basic premise of the book is there has been a catastrophe that wiped out the majority of humanity (and the author discusses what a good and bad catastrophe would be). What technology and knowledge would the remaining pockets of humanity need to recreate in order to preserve civilization. The author then goes through eleven topics, like medicine, communication, food, materials, etc., and provides key concepts to recreate an above-subsistence level of technology.

Final thoughts: I found this book quite interesting because of the underlying premise. Come up with critical technology that can be put into a single book that survivors can use to prevent another Dark Ages. What technologies, techniques, and concepts would you include in such a book?

Often the author provides just a concept and not a specific technology, in the belief that the idea is enough to improve survival. Other times, he provides leapfrogging technology that took our ancestors a while to come up with, and offer a major improvement in performance without a major difference in technology. In some instances, he is very specific in the details he provides (use PET when recycling plastics) and other instances, he’s very general (here’s a picture of a harrow – you’re going to want one of these). In several instances, simple technologies combine into something much more complex, like the internal combustion engine and photography. My favorite part of the book was when he would discuss the origin of words and phrases.

I think the author took the premise too far. I can see the book being useful in the decades following an apocalypse, but he would discuss what we’d need to do hundreds of years after the apocalypse. By then, people would either not be able to read the English, or the book would have been destroyed. In either situation, the book would not be helpful. However, I did enjoy reading about the technology that underpins our society and the idea that we could recreate much of it.

Title comes from: The book presumably provides the knowledge needed to rebuild civilization

Reading challenges fulfilled: 62/100 in my Finally to 100 Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or subtitle to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


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