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Monday, March 23, 2009

Review (Sort of): When Technology Fails

I got a copy of this book from the library. Amazon has it listed for $23 bucks, which is, in my opinion, a very good price for this book.

First, let me say that I am not really reviewing this book here, since I haven't had the time to read it. All I've done is look through it for a few days. But I will say that I definitely want a copy of my own. I no long buy novels, I use the library for my "entertainment" reading. I do buy good reference books, however, and WTF (When Technology Fails, not What the .....) fits in that category for sure.

I'll tell you about the book instead of reviewing it. How's that? I think most readers of this blog and other preparedness-type blogs will want a copy of Stein's encyclopedia. Herewith the main sections of the Table of Contents:

1 Introduction of Self-Reliance
An Uncertain Future
Technology Failures Are Common
Why This Book?
Be Prepared
Preindustrial Self-Sufficienty
Old-Fashioned Self-Reliance and Modern Sustainable Technology

(I'm not going to type out all the subcategories in each section--the TOC goes on for 5 pages! But I will put in a few subcategories from each chapter so you get a taste...)

2 Present Trends, Possible Futures
The Main Threats to Our Future
The Eco-Threat
Peak Oil
The Bio-Threat
The Terrorism Threat
Other Important Trends

3 Supplies and Preparations
Planning for the Short Term
72-Hour "Grab-and-Run" Survival Kits
Long-Term Planning and Storace
Calculating a Year's Food Supply
Notes on Camping Gear

4 Emergency Measures for Survival
Survival Strategies
Developing a Survivor Personality
Simple Tools
Surviving a Nuclear Disaster

5 Water
Water Requirements
Stocking Up for Emergencies
The World's Water Crisis
Preserving Water
Treating and Finding Water the Low-Tech Way
Modern Water Treatment

(All chapters have a References and Resources.)

6 Food: Growing, Foraging, Hunting, and Storing
World Population and Food Supply
Grow Biointensive
Sprouting: Your Own Mini-Garden on a Windowsill
Foraging for Food
Brief Guide to Wild Edible Foods
Poisonous Foods to Avoid
Preserving and Storing Food
Dairy, Tofu, and Tempeh
Raising Animals
Hunting and Trapping

7 Shelter and Buildings
A Survey of Various Green Building Systems
Straw Bales
Earth-Based Building Systems
Rammed Earth
Cast Earth
Passive Solar Design
Preventing and/or Battling Mold
Health Effects of Mold
Traditional Low-Tech Structures

8 First Aid
Initial Evaluation
ABCs of First Aid
Bandages and Dressings
Fractures and Dislocations
Heat-Related Trauma
Bites and Stings
Moving Injured People
Emergency Childbirth

(This chapter is a virtual first aid guide all in itself. With the addition of the next chapter, this information alone makes the book worth the price.)

9 When High-Tech Medicine Fails
The Holistic Health Movement
The Low-Tech Medicine Cabinet
Simple, Effective Remedies and Supplements to Have on Hand
The Essence of Healing
Colloidal and Ionic Silver
Healing with Herbs
Supplements and Food
Sinus Health and Molds
Electromagnetic Fields
The Beck Protocol
Healing with Energy
The Power of Prayer
Hypnosis for Pain Control and Healing
Visualization and Mind-Body Healing

10 Clothing and Textiles
Fiber Arts
Preparing Fibers
Sustainable Fibers
Furs and Skins
Patterns and Custom-Tailored Clothing

11 Energy, Heat and Power
Shifting to Renewable Energy (RE)
RE Systems
Wind Power
Solar Hot Water
Solar Water Pumping
Steam Energy
Fuel Cells
Heating with Wood
Energy, Power and Electricity Primer

12 Metalworking
A Brief Introduction to Metals
Casting Metal

13 Utensils and Storage
Making a Simple Wooden Cup or Bowl
Basket Basics
Storing Fluids in Skins and Other Animal Parts
Primitive Pottery

14 Better Living Through Not-So-Modern Chemistry
Natural Glues
Vegetable Oils

15 Engineering, Machines, and Materials

16 Making the Shift to Sustainability
A Poor Track Record
Proactive Success Stories
Tragedy of the Commons
Sustainable Communities
Sustainable Cities
Cradle to Cradle
The Natural Step
Negative Population Growth
The "Hundreth Monkey Phenomenon"
Plan B: Live Locally, Think Globally
Effective Action
Choose Wisely


One of the blurbs on the inside first pages:

"I liked this book. It's carefully researched, comprehensive, well-illustrated, and readable. It presents much needed alternate information, for, in my opinion, technology has already 'failed'. . . . so replacement of polluting 'high' technologies with non-polluting 'low' ones is urgent, and Matthew Stein's handbook systematcially and accurately surveys a wide array of possible low-tech options. Much hard work, time, and talent went into the building of this basic reference survey of low tech options." Carla Emery, author of The Encyclopedia of County Living: An Old Fashioned Recipe Book

I have enjoyed looking through and reading parts of this book. The foraging section is basic, but it'll do in a pinch. The health section is fascinating, the first aid chapter very good. It really is a good basic guide to most of the knowledge we will want to have on hand if the world crashes around us. Stein suggests a lot of books, magazines and other resources for each chapter. The bibliography is extensive and the index looks top-notch. I know I want a copy. :)


1 comment:

  1. I have a copy sitting no farther than 5 feet away from the computer right now. While I haven't been yet able to read through it either, I can attest to it's quality!

    Simply looking through it or at your breakdown above can show people just how broad the scope is!

    I'd recommend everyone pick up a copy.