In this “richly imagined” dystopian vision, mankind must find a way to survive as modern civilization slowly comes apart (O, The Oprah Magazine).
When Earth ran dry of oil, the age of the automobile came to an end; electricity flickered out. With deprivation came desperation—and desperation drove humanity backward to a state of existence few could have imagined.
In the tiny hamlet of Union Grove, New York, every day is a struggle. For Mayor Robert Earle, it is a battle to keep the citizens united. As the bonds of civilization are torn apart by war, famine, and violence, there are some who aim to carve out a new society: one in which might makes right—a world of tyranny, subjugation, and death. A world Earle must fight against . . .
In his shocking nonfiction work, The Long Emergency, social commentator James Howard Kunstler explored the reality of what would happen if the engines stopped running. In World Made by Hand, he offers a stark glimpse of that future in a work of speculative fiction that stands as “an impassioned and invigorating tale whose ultimate message is one of hope, not despair” (San Francisco Chronicle).
“Brilliant.” —Alan Cheuse, Chicago Tribune
“It frightens without being ridiculously nightmarish, it cautions without being too judgmental, and it offers glimmers of hope we don’t have to read between the lines to comprehend.” —Baltimore City Paper
Kunstler's name is mostly associated with nonfiction works like The Long Emergency, a bleak prediction of what will happen when oil production no longer meets demand, and the antisuburbia polemic The Geography of Nowhere. In this novel, his 10th, he visits a future posited on his signature idea: when the oil wells start to run dry, the world economy will collapse and society as we know it will cease. Robert Earle has lost his job (he was a software executive) and family in the chaos following the breakdown. Elected mayor of Union Grove, N.Y., in the wake of a town crisis, Earle must rebuild civil society out of squabbling factions, including a cultish community of newcomers, an established group of Congregationalists and a plantation kept by the wealthy Stephen Bullock. Re-establishing basic infrastructure is a big enough challenge, but major tension comes from a crew of neighboring rednecks led by warlord Wayne Karp. Kunstler is most engaged when discussing the fate of the status quo and in divulging the particulars of daily life. Kunstler's world is convincing if didactic: Union Grove exists solely to illustrate Kunstler's doomsday vision. Readers willing to go for the ride will see a frightening and bleak future.