World Made By Hand by James Howard Kunstler (317 pgs) 2008
In this future America, modern life is a decade gone. A combination of post-peak oil, terrorist attacks, disintegration of the government, and declining trade resulting from these issues has pushed the country back to a pre-industrial lifestyle.
The small semi-rural town of Union Grove, New York is getting by though. They’ve settled into subsistence-level farming and community that while not quite harmonious, is at least functioning. In the absence of any official enforcement, lawlessness and vigilante-ism are the norm. The townsfolk find themselves caught between the bullies running the town dump (now reversed into a major trading post) and the new arrivals- a cultish and mysterious religious group fleeing violence down south.
The world Kunstler has created is a solid and believable one. And despite a scene of fairly disturbing torture late in the book and some weird mystical “are they or aren’t they” miracles that jar with the rest of the tone, it’s an enjoyable read.