The most visible technology we use daily is just the tip of a vast iceberg – not only in the sense that it's based on a great manufacturing and organizational network that supports production, but also because it represents the heritage of a long history of advances and developments. The iceberg extends unseen through both space and time.
-- From The Knowledge by Lewis Dartnell
The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Civilization in the Aftermath of a Cataclysm
Review by Dave Zeiger
Anyone who thinks civilization is indestructible doesn't get out much.
The past is heaped in ruin. The future harbors the chance of natural and/or man-made cataclysm. Our present appears more than a little shaky.
Like our bodies, it's quite possible that something vital will one day give 'way. The system-as-a-whole clutches its collective chest and expires, gasping. Is crushed by falling rock. Or brought low by hurled, nuclear-tipped spear.
The Knowledge by Lewis Dartnell goes a long way toward answering that question. He provides an over-view of means by which that our world might re-boot itself from little more than scratch. A tool-kit of core, synergetic technologies with which industrial society has been achieved. Yet it is not prescriptive; this Knowledge empowers the future but leaves it to find its own way.
Along the way, Dartnell provides a fascinating tour through the 'engine-room' of our industrial world. He illuminates its essential functions, interdependencies and history. Cataclysm or no, his book will have you looking with new eyes at the ubiquitous, taken-for-granted substances and artifacts permeating our lives. Should cataclysm befall us... well... it's a magnificently conceived gift to the future.
The Knowledge is a tour de force which should appeal, not just to Doomers such as myself, but to any who yet feel the Renaissance passion for the Knowledge of our own times. That lauded and once valued Jack-or-Jill-of-all trades-kind of Knowledge that deepens our appreciation for our world, and extends our reach within it.
Wonderful book, and I mean full of wonders! I return to its pages time and again, as seeds it has sown bloom within me.
The Knowledge initiates a magnificent and, I believe, vital project.
To my mind, it succeeds where many have failed to strike that narrow balance between too much and too little. It accepts its limitations and goes a long way toward persuading those who may be so moved, that a 'stitch in time' is a worthy goal.
Where it is, perhaps, improvable has more to do with presentation than content; the not trivial task of speaking effectively to persons not yet born, and who inhabit a world homo sapiens has never seen. For them, the great torch of technology – from fire to the Clovis point to the germ theory – handed from generation to generation may well have been dropped.
Lewis Dartnell has taken up the part of Prometheus, offering fire to the future.
As with technology, The Knowledge is but the tip of an iceberg. Visit The-Knowledge.org to participate in re-booting the future.