Grace's Reviews > World Made by Hand

World Made by Hand by James Howard Kunstler
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's review
May 04, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: fiction, book-club-books, read-in-2009
Read in May, 2009

I live in upstate New York. I'm not very familiar with Washington County, the primary setting of this book, but I am familiar with downtown Albany and the surrounding suburbs. I was pleasantly surprised by the accuracy in his geography of the area and references to state government until he spelled Duanesburg wrong (he spelled it Duanesberg), which really upset me because that's my hometown. I know that this may sound trivial, but if a local author is going to use his home region as the setting for a post apocalyptic saga, you'd think he'd spell the names of towns correctly.


As for the book itself - not a fan. The catastrophic events that led to this post apocalyptic world are shady at best. All I could gather was no one wanted to trade with the U.S. anymore and major cities were bombed or were struck my massive hurricanes, leaving them in chaos and/or uninhabitable. The idea that society could deteriorate so quickly didn't seem plausible to me.

Shadiness tends to be a theme with James Howard Kunstler - for example - this New Faith tribe that buys the high school and turns it into a self sustaining home. How did they find Union Grove? How did they manage to buy the high school without no one in town finding out? In a small town made even smaller by this strange Mexican flu epidemic, you'd think they notice a band of strangers looking at real estate. What about their "queen bee" who does nothing buy lounge in a bed eating corn bread and telling the future? And what Minor and Wayne Karp's identical wounds, except Karp's body shows no evidence of a bullet? Am I really supposed to believe that Jesus killed a man by mimicking gun shot wounds the man inflicted on another man?

James Howard Kunstler also does a great job of showing how women are virtually useless in a post apocalyptic society except for cooking, cleaning, and having sex with the available men. Women played no part in making town decisions or in solving town problems. Kunstler goes as far as to say, in regard to the town's board of trustees, "All the trustees are men; no women and no plain laborers. As the world changed, we reverted to social divisions that we'd thought were obsolete." (p. 101). As a woman, Mr. Kunstler, let me tell you one thing - I highly doubt that women would forgo all of the rights and freedoms we've fought so long and hard for over the last 150 years just because there is no oil and bombs decimated cities. If it's do or die time, you can be damn sure that I'll be out there doing instead of sitting at home waiting to die.

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