Western Society is in confusion, the industrial world is teetering on collapse, and it looks like things could get worse. Agrarian Blogger, historian, and "plain" preacher Michael Bunker has been living off of the grid for many years, and he has some advice for those living in the industrial/consumerist economy …living an off off-grid life is achievable. It has been done for thousands of years, and it can be done today... It is quite possible that many people who have relied on a failing system for their means of survival will very soon find that they have made a mistake of historic proportions. Historic, because every major "classical" culture went down the same road our society is on today. This book is about the lessons we should have learned, and what you can do to survive what history tells us must come next.
For years, I have thought that there is something wrong with the world I live in. After reading this book, I now know what it is. We are all too comfortable, living in an unsustainable environment. A perfect example of this is the Northeast that is recovering from the Hurricane that just went through the area. I have seen on TV people ranting about a government that is not doing enough to help out in this situation. If even a percentage of the people living in the area were living as this book outlines, there would at least be clean drinking water from water recovery systems.
I have seen several people who disagree with the "God" references. I, for one, not only appreciate the "God" references, but completely believe that we need to be living this way to get back to a civilization and people that put God first, and put our own comfort second.
I like that fact that while this book is more of "why to" rather than "how to", there is a fair amount of "how to" in the book, and much more to be learned with further study.
I would certainly recommend this to all of my Christian friends, but furthermore, to my non Christian friends, so they could come to understand some the "why" in living like this. I am not saying they have to believe the way I do, but certainly they should at least try to understand why someone would want to live this way.
I have read this book twice, purchased multiple copies and plan to put many of the things in this book into practice.
As far as his reference to history, civil war, etc., I never believe anything I read from someone that I cannot go and verify myself. To that end, Michael Bunker has driven me to study more and become more knowledgeable about the true history of this country, not the industrialized view being presented in the schools and media.
This book is not a "how to" book. It's more of a "why to" book. It explains why you should look at living off off-grid with just a little bit of "how to" thrown in. I thoroughly enjoyed this book even though I was already convinced of the benefits of living off off-grid. There's a lot of good information in there. Also, I know that some reviews have been critical of the amount of religious talk in the book. However, being a Christian, I really appreciated his references to Scripture throughout.
Picked this book up without blinking, thinking it was just another survivalist how-to. Instead, this book revolutionized my thinking on success, prosperity, what I own, my views on our world, my job and even changed my views of my faith. This is an amazing book of the philosophy of living "off off-grid" beyond conventional survivalist ideas. It is a genuinely fantastic read.
One of the most profound and thought provoking books I have ever read, Surviving Off-Off Grid became an instant favorite and reference book. Once I'd read the authors reasons for becoming more independent in living a life of true freedom, I was compelled to look deeper into my own life.
I didn't like what I found.
Most of my family (wife, older children who own Nooks) now have a copy of this book and we're reading it together. Changes for the better have already occurred in the way we shop, the way we eat and what we have deemed "needs." Each step we take has made us stronger and fear the reeling and cancerous decay/programming of society less and less.
This is not an easy process, mind you...but when you come to the point that knowing the truth is more important than anything else--even if it hurts, this book becomes a Godsend.
If you're serious about changing your life for the better and do not fear a challenge, I suggest you get a copy of this book. If you have a measure of intelligence in you, it will more than likely change your life.
At the least, it'll wake you up.
Mr. Bunker, I appreciate your hard work and wish you the very best in all your endeavors.
This is a challenging book to review. No doubt because even the author expressed that it was difficult to write since he was trying to synthesize so many purposes into one piece of writing. Let me start by stating that I agree with many if not most of Bunker's ideas. I agree that the current system of industrialism/consumerism/agribusiness is fatally flawed and something must be done for the sake of us and our children. I agree (as a Christian) that there is an imperative for us to practice benevolent dominion and to work toward building the Kingdom in both an eternal AND a temporal sense. I even agree that modernism has hijacked many of the natural processes humanity developed through millenia of collective wisdom and has turned them into bare shadows of their former selves.
Some things about this book really grated on me. The author conducts a fairly thorough examination of Western Civilization, identifying many places where the move toward urbanism resulted in the death of the civilization. All this is fine, but through all of this observation, not one single source is cited. Similarly, he examines the Civil War through a historical lens of a movement by northern industrialists to create a market for northern goods by adding former slaves as a consumer demographic. While intriguing and certainly plausible, again only one source is identified. The author even has the gall to extort everyone to "READ YOUR HISTORY" yet a bibliography of the primary sources he allegedly consulted is conspicuously absent. This gets slightly better toward the end of the book where one or two sources are quoted, but all in all, for a book that mocks the wisdom of the world, it is ironic that the most frequently quoted source is Wikipedia.
This leads to my second contention (irritation?) with the book. The tone of the writing was one of such unfailing condescension and self-righteousness that even when I AGREED with the points being made (which, again, was the majority of the time), I found them slightly unpalatable. I'm not sure who the intended audience of this book really is. If it is those that already identify with the Christian Agrarian Separatist ideal, then it is preaching to the choir and useless in any practical sense. If it is those still under the influence of modernist consumer culture, I don't think anyone will be converted by the derisive and polemical rhetoric employed here. But maybe that is the point. If everyone went Agrarian, it would be difficult to maintain the ideal of separation. Better to wish ill on all those ignorant slaves of industrialist culture so that when it really hits the fan, you can laugh at all those liberal morons, government stooges, and consumer cogs going down with the system. (As a side note, I am a public educator and I found the author's derisive language regarding public education particularly irritating. I know many more educators like myself who spend most of their time trying to get students to question every aspect of the system they live in rather than simply accepting it. But then again, I don't teach in Texas...)
I digress. The book is interesting and full of ideas that are worth considering specifically because they challenge paradigms that are almost a given in today's consumer/industrialist society. So if you can summon the energy to battle through repetitive rants, unsubstantiated historical precedent and a near constant injection of theology that serves to prove that scripture can be used to justify just about anything (just ask Joel Osteen and the modernist, consumer-based, prosperity gospel that the author indirectly attacks) then you will no doubt find something of value. I did. There are some nuggets from this text that I will take with me as I begin my own journey into sustainability and benevolent dominion over my own piece of land. Did I enjoy gaining this wisdom? Not particularly.
I really enjoyed this book. It is nota how to book but rather a how to think book. Although I am not ready to embrace this lifestyle/philosophy fully, I already do many of the things the author talks about and I can understand the reasoning behind his beliefs.
I was planning on writing a full length review, but after a couple of days after finishing the book. I decided not to. Let's summarize with: Prepper Amish meets Christian Pastor. I skimmed it half of it. Read at your own risk.
You've probably read plenty of books that tell you how to survive off the grid. This book doesn't have a misprint in the title. It teaches you why you should be getting on with surviving off "off-grid". In other words, a whole lot less dependant. Off-grid living focuses on such things as using technology to produce electricity (perhaps wind or photovoltaic cells) Off-off-grid living would pose the question "How can I thrive without electricity?". This book doesn't describe the backwoodsman skills you might employ to eke out an existence as a hunter gatherer. Rather, it lays out a belief system that is as old as humankind, but largely forgotton in the western world of grid-connected luxury.
The belief system you will be introduced to as you read is the basis for all planning, designing and action contained in the book. So, while it's chock full of excellent examples and suggestions about HOW to go about becoming more self reliant, once you understand WHY it is so important and natural to do so, you will be on your own exciting journey into actually living it!
Michael Bunker is a colourful character. He's like John Wayne, John Calvin, Grizzly Adams and Thomas Cromwell rolled into one Texas-sized individual. Bunker doesn't pull his punches and this book is written in a direct and forceful manner. You can tell it has the ring of authenticity that comes from someone who genuinely practices what he preaches. Bunker lives in an Agrarian community in central Texas with his family and they largely produce what they need there. This book is a distillation of his learnings, mistakes and successes and has been literally field-tested for years prior to making it into print.
So, if you want a book that thinks survival is all "Check out my cool bunker!" then go get one of the hundreds of books out there that cover this stuff. But if you want to learn how and why to live with meaningful and fulfilling process, relationships and freedom, click on the link to "Check out Michael Bunker!"
February 29 - 2012 A year later: My above review of this book still stands. Surviving Off-Off Grid remains a very, very useful book. The book deserves to be read and reading it entirely is really the only way to find out for yourself why this book polarises people so completely. If you love the book, you possibly didn't need it in the first place, and if you loathe the book, you're someone who would stand to gain the most from adopting the paradigm shift that this book documents so thoroughly. Look, Michael Bunker causes controversy and often evokes extreme emotions in other people, but I can guarantee you that reading books by such authors is always anything but mundane. Michael Bunker walks around with a spectral amplifier volume knob floating above his head - set to 11.
Interesting book, author has strong views which i personally found a little off putting and made it difficult to read. Religious views, and the mantra of stop using technology. Eye opening to see such a view, although i agree we shouldn't be reliant on technology, I don't think i'm ready to drop it out of my life unnecessarily if there is a benefit. Some great information in here if you overlook and pass through some of the 'rants'. Has certainly changed my view of what is a necessity though.
Read this book with a grain of salt. I enjoyed it a lot and learned a ton, but this guy is way over the top when it comes to his view of man's use of electricity. He believes it is pretty much evil, that city life is sinful, and that all civilzations who depend on electricity are doomed to the same fate as Rome.
I don't agree. Obviously, man has been able to learn, grow,share and advance in so many ways because of electricity. It is a blessing or a curse dpending on how it is employed. However, I do agree with the author in that our absolute dependence on electricty and a consumption life style (on ALL levls) has resulted in a huge loss of individual liberty.
I do think that getting rid of our "non essential" electronics is good. (Sorry my fridge and washer are keepers for now) And I think that a simpler life that is centered on your own peice of land where you make an effort to produce as many of your necessities as possible is a really positive thing and would do much to restore the American Family and the American Dream.
Do read it. But don't feel too bad if you still use yoru vacuum to clean up afterward.
It's all fun and games until someone starts quoting the Bible... Ok, so I'm not "anti Bible-quoting" per se, it's just definitely not what I was hoping for from this book. I was even pretty interested in some of the philosophy underlying why one might want to shift to on "off-grid" lifestyle (the double negative kind of killed me):
"The advent of specialization fractured the mind and caused man to focus on pieces of the puzzle instead of the whole picture. The urbanite doesn't allow himself to be concerned with whether or not the grocer has food or the peddler has supplies because during good times those things are not his concern...Everything has its compartment, and most things are someone else's business" (p.17).
But, really I was hoping for a how-to survival book, the kind that teaches you tactics you'll probably never need, but are just kind of fun to know and/or put to use when headed off the grid for a spell. I wanted more manual than manifesto, and that is definitely not what I got. Perhaps I should have given the subtitle a once over before diving in.
Better than the average book on being prepared. First third of the book is philosophy of why be prepared, why be in community and concerns with being dependent on the government. Last two thirds of the book is more of a how-to BE prepared.
The last chapter and the appendix were more of who Michael Bunker IS as a "Christian separatist" ... of which I suppose I am almost the opposite as a follower of Jesus. Nevertheless, his writing is compelling and informing - also challenging as to be aware and awake in these days of lulling the mind with entertainment, comfort and convenience.
Many rock solid ideas seem hampered by a defensive delivery that reads more like a draft than a final edit.
At one spot Bunker outlines if he were to homestead again what he would do differently - what improvements he'd make. Perhaps the book is like his homestead and would reach out and touch a reader better if rewritten today?
As an exploration of some of the reasons Agrarian living's merits should be a consideration in how we plan our lives the book's holds a lot to contemplate.
I have no idea how to rate this book, because the thought-provoking things he had to say about our dependency on electricity, petroleum, the consumer economy, and the state in general were tempered by some blatant anti-Catholicism. Ignoring the anti-Catholic bits... the rest of the discussion in the book was challenging and echoes many of the same sentiments expressed by the Catholic Land Movement, in addition to providing some useful information about living on the land without being too dependent on electricity, whether it comes from the "grid", solar, or gas-powered generators.
From the introduction, where he conveniently twists history to take cheap shots at Catholicism, you know you're dealing with someone with deeply held anti-Catholic prejudice (some have called anti-Catholicism the last socially acceptable bias, so this might not bother a lot of people)...
I agree with the idea that things as they are are unsustainable, but I don't see the good in hammering HIS personal interpretations of Holy Scriptures and HIS criteria for Christianity into reader's faces just to get that point across.
Real enlightening. Worth the read. Sort of a practical yet philosophical handbook on how to 'decolonize' our overly-conditioned minds. I'm guessing I'll be referring to it whenever a related question comes up along the way. Folksy writing. And practical information.