I recently read The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century, by James Howard Kuntsler, a grim analysis of what may happen to our modern civilization after we hit peak oil (which we may already have). The book feels flawed near the end where he spins off into all sorts of possible dystopias but in spite of that the message is often terrifying.
I also read John Barry’s The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History, a sort of Avian flu preview which was a great and again a scary read, and Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, another great book though plodding in places and not as compelling as his Guns, Germs and Steel.
I’m not sure why I’m in the mood for these bleak books but I’ll make the publishing note that each has a great sub-title.
I had trouble sleeping while I was reading the The Great Influenza, and I slept even less while reading The Long Emergency. But which of these books is scariest?
If you check Amazon’s “Customers who bought this item also bought” you’ll find that only the readers of The Long Emergency are buying how-to books like When Technology Fails, or The Encyclopedia of Country Living, while readers of Collapse and The Great Influenza seem content to read a broad swath of popular non-fiction, like 1776 or Blink.
The Long Emergency wins.
Surprisingly, there’s no activity on this book’s wiki or forum though there’s plenty of back and forth in the review section.
I’m going to read something light-hearted next.