The Knowledge is a New York Times and Sunday Times best-seller. Here is a selection of the reviews of the book that have appeared in international newspapers and magazines.
An extraordinary achievement. With lucidity and brevity, Dartnell explains the rudiments of a civilisation. It is a great read even if civilisation does not collapse. If it does, it will be the sacred text of the new world — Dartnell that world’s first great prophet.
The Times (read full review online)
The Knowledge is premised on an ingenious sleight of hand. Ostensibly a manual on rebuilding our technological life-support system after a global catastrophe, it is actually a glorious compendium of the knowledge we have lost in the living; the origins of the material fabric of our actual lives. This is the most inspiring book I’ve read in a long time.
The Independent (read full review online)
The Knowledge is a terrifically engrossing history of science and technology. How exactly did people develop farming machinery, clocks, steam engines, glass lenses, radios, explosives, and the like? Dartnell deftly sketches the contours of each problem, and sympathetically reconstructs the reasoning applied.
The Guardian (read full review online)
“The Knowledge” is a fascinating look at the basic principles of the most important technologies undergirding modern society. It is a fun read full of optimism about human ingenuity.
The Wall Street Journal (read full review online)
Dartnell’s guide to surviving the apocalypse is as breezy and engaging as it is informative. I now know exactly what I’m going to do as soon as a mushroom cloud appears on the horizon. Leap in my golf cart and go straight round to Dartnell’s place. And if I end up spending long hours churning his butter, chopping wood for his car, or pasteurising vast amounts of his poo, well, that seems a small price to pay.
The Daily Mail (read full review online)
The Knowledge is a stimulating read, a grand thought experiment on re-engineering the food, housing, clothing, heat, clean water and every other building block of civilization.
The New York Post (read full review online)
A crash course in the scientific fundamentals underpinning modern-day living. The Knowledge impresses as a condensed history of scientific progress, and will pique curiosity among readers who regret daydreaming throughout school chemistry lessons.
A hymn to human ingenuity, charting how we have taken control of the planet, engineered solutions to the many problems that plagued us as we developed modern societies and learned to beat our microbial assailants to live ever longer lives. Yet it is more than that. It is a manual for rebuilding society in the face of collapse.
Impeccably researched and beautifully written, The Knowledge makes me proud of all we humans have achieved – and dismayed at how much we have to lose. You need to read this book.
As the scouts say – be prepared! Say your prayers that you never need this book
The ultimate do-it-yourself guide to ‘rebooting’ human civilization. With scientific nous, Dartnell depicts probable environmental scenarios on a stricken Earth and offers putative survivors instruction in the technologies needed to craft a culture from the ground up. Many will thrill to this reminder of our species’ prodigious resilience.
The Knowledge really succeeds in demonstrating the interconnectedness of knowledge, the importance of the scientific method in advancing society, and the “symbiotic relationship” between scientific discovery and technological advance.
Times Higher Education, Book of the Week (read full review online)
A whistle-stop tour of the history of science and technology … full of those “oh!” moments, when you think, “well, I never thought of that before”. I am sure almost everyone will find something to surprise them in this book.
The Telegraph (read full review online)
An eye-opener… The Knowledge is an amazing checklist of human discovery
GeekDad (read full review online)
The conceit is that this book tells you everything you’ll need to reboot civilisation, from agriculture to zinc batteries. It’s a lot of ground to cover, making for a satisfyingly dense read, all conveyed with no expectation of prior scientific knowledge. Dartnell has a light turn of phrase and a gift for analogy that makes the body of knowledge easy to absorb
BBC Focus magazine
An amazing book with all the information you need to rebuild society after a major catastrophe. It’s not a daft survival manual but a highly intelligent description of all that makes our lives normal. Every household should have a copy.
April’s Top Choice, The Bookseller
The Knowledge is kin to the “way things work” books of the artist-writer David Macauley, showing how complex the makings of civilization—the engines, the infrastructure, all the things we take for granted—really are. It will prove a valuable owner’s guide for a difficult but not impossible future.
Kirkus Reviews (read full review online)
From starting fires to extracting metal from rocks, to eventually weaving your own clothes and creating a power grid, The Knowledge will ensure you and your fellow survivors have the know-how to reboot civilisation from scratch.
Even if you don’t believe the end is nigh, it’s a completely fascinating manual of practical knowledge most of us woefully lack.
[An] ambitious inquiry into how people might be able to rebuild the world as we know it if an apocalypse came to pass. As much as any writer could cover the history of technology in 300 pages, Dartnell presents a good case… [His] vision is a great start in understanding what it took to build our world.
A marvellously astounding work: In one graceful swoop, Lewis Dartnell takes our multi-layered, interconnected modern world, shows how fragile its scaffolding is, and then lays out a how-to guide for starting over from scratch. Imagine Zombieland told by Neil deGrasse Tyson and you’ll get some sense of what a delight The Knowledge is to read.
Lewis Dartnell has written a long-overdue guide to what you should do after the apocalypse: an illuminating and entertaining vision of how to reboot life, civilisation and everything. The Knowledge offers a remarkable and panoramic view of how civilization actually works.
Roger Highfield, The Science Museum
With his intriguing premise, Dartnell makes the technology and science of everyday life in our civilization fascinating and understandable. Bricks, batteries, beer, blast furnaces, clocks, paint, potash, soap, surgery … you’ll see them all in a new light. This book may or may not save your life but it’ll certainly make it more interesting. This is the book we all wish we’d been given at school: The Knowledge that makes everything else make sense.
This book is useful if civilization collapses, and entertaining if it doesn’t.