Free books of post-apocalyptic rebuilding

Free books
Project Gutenberg

Some of the best novels relating to the themes of post-apocalyptic survival and restarting from scratch were published over a century ago – this is not a new genre. This means that they are now in the public domain and can be downloaded as free books. Project Gutenberg (named after the fifteenth-century inventor of the moveable type printing press, as explored in chapter 10 of The Knowledge) is a superb on-line resource that offers access to tens of thousands of books in the public domain. Here below are direct links to the Project Gutenberg entries for relevant novels that you can download as free books to your Kindle or other e-book reader. Also see The Knowledge list of the very best post-apocalyptic books and the best films.

Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe (1719)
The original story of restarting from scratch: shipwrecked on a tropical island. Download
The Swiss Family Robinson, Johann David Wyss (1812)
Echoing many of the themes of Robinson Crusoe, a ship-wrecked family thrives on an isolated island in the West Indies. Download
The Last Man, Mary Shelley (1826)
One of the earliest post-apocalypse survivor stories. Few remain alive after the world is ravished by plague. Download
MysteriousIsland The Mysterious Island, Jules Verne (1874)
A group of airship voyagers crash-land on a remote island and set-about recovering a civilised lifestyle from scratch – one of the very best examples of the genre, with detailed descriptions. Download
After London, Richard Jefferies (1885)
After an unspecified catastrophe, England begins to return to nature and the small groups of survivors recede back to a medieval lifestyle. Download
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain (1889)
Hank Morgan dozes beneath a tree and wakes in Arthurian England. Using his knowledge of gunpowder he convinces the King that he is a more powerful wizard than Merlin, and attempts to modernise the populace with his other ‘inventions’. Download
The Time Machine, H. G. Wells (1895)
The unnamed inventor jumps far into the future to find a carefree society of Eloi, living among ruins with no industry of their own but cannibalised by the subterranean Morlocks. In later adaptations of the original book, the time-traveller returns to his London home to recover a handful of books to help the Eloi rebuild civilisation. Download
The Scarlet Plague, Jack London (1912)
Decades after global epidemic, one survivor attempts to impart his knowledge to his grandchildren before it is too late. Download

The Knowledge Want to read more about the behind-the-scenes fundamentals of how our modern world works, and how you could reboot civilisation if you ever needed to...? Check out The Knowledge - available now in paperback, Kindle and audiobook.

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