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The Witch of Hebron (World Made by Hand #2)

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  1,830 Ratings  ·  241 Reviews
In the sequel to his novel, World Made by Hand, Kunstler expands on his vision of a post-oil society with a new novel about an America in which the electricity has flickered off, the Internet is a distant memory, and the government is little more than a rumor.

In the tiny hamlet of Union Grove, New York, travel is horse-drawn and farming is back at the center of life. But
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published August 1st 2010)
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Jason Pettus
Sep 13, 2010 Jason Pettus rated it it was ok
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

I'm not sure why exactly I decided to read James Howard Kunstler's newest post-apocalyptic "doom-n-gloomer" novel The Witch of Hebron; after all, I found the first book in this series, 2008's World Made by Hand, rather ridiculously silly, taking what's actually a fairly fascinating true subject (the fact t
Chance Maree
While the characters and plot had promise, the effect of the novel felt very hollow to me. I can only point to the prose itself, where phrases were coined from cerebral rather than visual or emotional words. Some moments were evident where the writer tried to be writer-ly, which threw a wet blanket on the whole scene and depressed the mood going forward.

Although visual descriptions were offered, none burned in my mind like other works I've read, yet many should have. While the characters moved
I won this through First Reads.

I was a little worried when I got this that I might not be able to follow it because I hadn't read World Made by Hand. Fortunately, this is one of those sequels that completely stands alone. It's a cozy post-apocalyptic story in which a boy runs away, gets tied up with a crazy bandit named Billy Bones, several people meet a mysterious woman, and a band of Jesus freaks really are freaks. It had a very old-fashioned feel to it, kind of like Alas, Babylon or Earth Ab
William Thomas
Sep 13, 2010 William Thomas rated it did not like it
Shelves: absurd-garbage, bland

If I were to call this book comical, it would mean that the author had intended it to be as such. So I can't do that. Because I'm certain that it wasn't intentionally comical. I laughed out loud for the absurdity of some of it. I couldn't help myself. The fact that the writer is taking this seriously made it all the more hilarious.

A melodramatic post-apocalyptic tale (a genre which I think I may steer clear of for a time, seeing as how it is all anyone can form a story around) that comes off un
Oct 22, 2010 Megan rated it really liked it
Kunstler makes the post-oil life in a small upstate NY town sound a little too good to be true. Sure, half of the US population is dead, there's no electricity and people don't stray too far from home because of packs of roving bandits...but there's still fresh garden produce, local cheese, homemade wine and friendly neighbors. I am not sure of the author's message. We (well, half of us) will pull through the collapse of the world as we know it and establish a much simpler, but maybe richer, lif ...more
Sep 29, 2011 Greg rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was not at all what I expected. I did not expect this to be a loosely veiled fantasy of child pornography, fetishism, and sex. There are multiple episodes of the 11 year-old main character watching grown men masturbating, watching people engaged is sex, and a "touching" scene of the 11 year-old and a 13 year-old prostitute having sex. Oh, and the adults engaged in the sex trafficking of boys as young as six.

The premises of the book is fantastic with the post apocalyptic societal regression
Kuntstler continues his story of the people of Union Grove, New York, in a world without oil, electricity, and technology. The second volume takes a turn toward the supernatural with more glimpses into the powers of Brother Jobe and a new character, the Witch of Hebron. Kuntsler adds to his circle of characters with a singing bandit, Billy Bones who composes a ballad about his exploits, victim by victim-a chilling portrait of an anti-social personality. Kuntsler delivers a story of despair and h ...more
Feb 08, 2011 E.m. rated it really liked it
Just picked it up from the library and have it and a few other awesome books to read. 'Think I'll take the week off to stay home and read, that should be okay, right?
Oct 19, 2010 Margaret rated it really liked it
This book is an extremely fast-paced, plot-driven sequel to Kunstler's "World Made by Hand" that offers more insight into what the author thinks (or hopes) will happen after the collapse of industrial civilization in America. I attended a book signing by the author for this book, where he proclaimed that the story was about the "re-enchantment" of the world after the humm and distraction of modern technology vanishes. The re-enchantment takes on a religious tone, as an intentional community of y ...more
Aug 23, 2010 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Galloway
Mar 04, 2012 David Galloway rated it it was amazing
Shelves: post-apocalyptic
The Witch of Hebron is the sequel to James Howard Kunstler's first novel A World Made By Hand and like the first it is filled with stories that concern the residents of an Upstate NY town in a postapocalyptic world.

The people in these books have had to suffer through a Middle Eastern war that resulted in Washington, DC being nuked and all foreign oil ceasing to flow to the US. A decade or two after this life has gone back to a late 19th century feel where people travel by horse, the doctor grow
Sam Wescott
Dec 04, 2014 Sam Wescott rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 22, 2010 Randy rated it really liked it
The Witch of Hebron is part 2 of what could be a long series of post-apocalyptic novels about a small community in Upper New York State and how they cope with no electricity or gasoline after the collapse of the USA and nuclear war. The details of all of history is hazy because the characters in the story don't know exactly what happened. There existence has been focused to the locality where they live with little news from the outside filtering through. Life has reverted to a nineteenth century ...more
Sep 19, 2011 wally rated it liked it
Shelves: kunstler

this is the first story from kunstler i have read. i enjoyed it.

the world we know no longer a sense, this is a ride horses, or mules. and too, the world has taken on...more of the religious tone of the past. by that, the mystical mysterious stuff is back. things happen.

the telling is like traveling from point a to point b, in a sense. there are other stories like that, the journey...huck finn, the stand from stephen king...the road~mccarthy....the outlander...

Jul 12, 2012 John rated it liked it
On the whole, I find the near-future world that Kunstler envisions compelling--a United States that has collapsed due to energy shortages, economic woes, and terrorism, but where people are still going on with the project of civilization. The world has a sort of wild west feel to it, though it's set in upstate New York--towns are fairly civilized, fairly safe, but the wilderness between has a wildness to it, and that sometimes spills over.

I also enjoyed the story that Kunstler weaves here from
Oct 04, 2010 Dave rated it really liked it
While I enjoyed this book's predecessor, World Made By Hand, this time Mr. Kunstler doesn't rehash as much of his non-fiction work (The Long Emergency, The Geography of Nowhere) as he did there. Instead, he jumps right into the story, and, for those of us familiar with his other work, the story is much better for it.

While World Made By Hand had some good story arcs and strong passages, the overall effect was less fluid than The Witch of Hebron. This time around it's pure story, and it's a fun ri
May 04, 2011 Docta_b rated it liked it
Kunstler's sequel is satisfying enough, though it continues the very masculine tilt of much of his writing. The female characters in this book, at least the primary supporting woman, actually has more dimension than any in 'World Made By Hand' though I did find it somewhat bothersome that her power was largely derived from sexual influence (even if of the witchy, cerebral nature) over men. Still, a good enough read. Must say this now feels like a trapse into escapism fiction more and more rather ...more
Henri Moreaux
Feb 12, 2016 Henri Moreaux rated it really liked it
The Witch of Hebron is the sequel to Kunstler's earlier book World Made by Hand.

The latter book was excellent, this book... not so much. I found it lacked the adventure and detail of the first. Deviating further into the supernatural certainly didn't help as it veers the book away from a future you can associate with in real life into the fantasy fiction realm which is not as enthralling.

It's an alright book, but no where near as good as the first.
Karenbike Patterson
May 28, 2012 Karenbike Patterson rated it it was amazing
I loved this even more than World Made by Hand. There is a very compelling plot, complex and believable characters, and a hopeful outlook. It is a different coming of age story about a boy from Union Grove and his encounters with the bandit Billy Bones. But, typical of many books written in this decade, there is clairvoyance and people who can "see" into you and the future. Again, this story seems a more possible prediction of the world after the bomb and its following epidemics.
Apr 27, 2011 Melodie rated it did not like it
I enjoyed 'World Made By Hand,' but the minor issues I had with that book became exasperated in this follow-up. So much so that I could not make it more than a couple of chapters. The mere explanation of the past book was poorly executed, let alone the rest. I would not like to be a female in the world Kunstler envisions.
Aug 28, 2012 Melissa rated it liked it
The author did a good job of taking many story lines and bringing them all together. I wish Kunstler had stuck with the reality of life in Grover's Corners and not added in mystical happenings. Not has good as "World Made By Hand" but a 2 1/2 to 3 star read.
Another thing: It feels like the author was setting up his next book in this one. That was a trifle annoying.
Steven Brandt (Audiobook-Heaven)
In the sequel to World Made By Hand, James Howard Kunstler further develops his dark image of an America plagued by terrorism, and terrorized by plague. When terrorists smuggled a nuclear bomb into the country and detonated it in Washington DC, the nation was effectively decapitated and cut off from its trade partners. Supplies of oil quickly ran out, and soon after the electricity blinks out for the last time. It’s infrastructure crippled, America is ill equipped to deal with a particularly vir ...more
Nov 19, 2016 David02139 rated it really liked it
Followup to the World made by Hand Not as good but main story is doctor's son who runs away and ends up saving leader of New Faith (Job's) life. Borderline 4 stars 1st book was better
Jun 16, 2012 Stephen rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion, doomsday
The future isn't what it used to be. When the oil wells ran dry, the global economy and every nation built on petroleum collapsed. This is the dawn of a new age, one centered on self-sustaining towns with a close relationship to the soil -- a world made by hand, where most of the population works in agriculture and the few which don't are busy turning the resources that remain into usable goods; they are carpenters, cobblers, James Howard Kunstler's original novel in this world established the c ...more
Ray Foy
Jan 20, 2012 Ray Foy rated it really liked it
The greatest value of this book (and its prequel, World Made by Hand), is the world it describes. That world is the community of Union Grove in the northeastern (former) US after the collapse of industrial civilization. What that collapse entails can be gleaned from Kunstler's nonfiction book, The Long Emergency, and his weekly blog (, but its root lies in fossil fuel depletion ("Peak Oil"). The subsequent contraction has left people living at a roughly nineteenth century level ...more
Jan 18, 2016 Jennifer rated it really liked it
It had been a bit before I'd read the first book in The World Made By Hand series. Still, it had never left me how very descriptive, and simply so, Kunstler's writing seems. Once again I was transported back to Union Grove where I met up with the familiar characters of Robert, Loren, and Brother Jobe and the New Faithers. Once again Union Grove, dressed out in all its Fall Colors, wrapped me in a sense of being home. Once again, something so seemingly trivial can spark so much in terms of plot.

Like the first book in the series, World Made By Hand, this was an absolute joy to read. As I get older, I find myself retreating into old sword and sorcery novels and works of nonfiction because I don't find much in the modern day that moves me, at least not in that way I used to feel where I never wanted to leave the world they placed me in. Kunstler has changed that.
The quote at the top of the cover describes his world as a mix of Lonesome Dove and The Road and this is incredibly on point. Fo
Sep 09, 2014 Julie rated it it was ok
I've read the first one in this series - mostly out of curiosity about the title, "World Made By Hand." I'm disappointed that this novel is just as thin as the first, both because the premise is so fascinating and timely and because I respect the author so much. His non-fiction books are satisfyingly straight-talking critiques of our insane land-use patterns and lack of community. And non one gives a more entertaining lecture.

The plot is sound, a coming-of-age story that moves at a good pace an
Kelly Knapp
Oct 15, 2011 Kelly Knapp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone above 15 years or younger with good maturity levels
Recommended to Kelly by: Goodreads Firstreads giveaway
I was unaware until after completing this novel that it was the second in a series (or at leas a sequel.) this makes it more impressive because I never felt like a was reading a sequel, which is difficult for most authors.

I was particularly facinated with the discriptions of "primitive" medicine. I was unsure how I felt about the surgery performed by the boy, but perhaps that is because it seemed too real for me.

Many may see this as unrealistic, but I know a young man who had to perform an emer
Michael Nutter
Aug 17, 2011 Michael Nutter rated it really liked it
One of the most realistic "post-apocalyptic" novels I've read. It does not go in for the sensational or the fast moving plot, like much science fiction does. Instead it tries to show what the details of life might be like after the initial ravages of post peak-oil and global warming take place, with their attendant famines, wars, social breakdown, and disease epidemics.

People have moved out of the big metropolitan areas because the transportation infrustructure and the agri-business food networ
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James Howard Kunstler (born 1948) is an American author, social critic, and blogger who is perhaps best known for his book The Geography of Nowhere, a history of suburbia and urban development in the United States. He is prominently featured in the peak oil documentary, The End of Suburbia, widely circulated on the internet. In his most recent non-fiction book, The Long Emergency (2005), he argues ...more
More about James Howard Kunstler...

Other Books in the Series

World Made by Hand (4 books)
  • World Made by Hand (World Made by Hand #1)
  • A History of the Future (World Made By Hand #3)
  • The Harrows of Spring (World Made by Hand #4)

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