250+ Books That Will Help Rebuild Civilization

The Organic Prepper – by Anonymous 411

How to Rebuild Civilization

In any world-wide disaster that causes civilization to collapse, it is possible that 90% of the world’s population will die. It will be hard to rebuild civilization because most of those will be older people, many of whom will have been educated in and have many years of experience in useful subjects such as  

  • engineering
  • medicine
  • farming
  • construction
  • mechanics
  • oil industry
  • electrical generation and transmission
  • manufacturing
  • rail and shipping transportation
  • operating machine tools

And that’s just to name a few.

With all that knowledge and experience lost, it will be impossible to restart civilization where we were before the disaster struck. Most facilities powering life as we know it, such as oil refineries, power plants, hospitals, factories, etc. may be damaged beyond use or even totally destroyed.

Hopefully, the assemblage of knowledge presented in these articles will help civilization fall only as far as the late 1800s or early 1900s. The alternative is back to the dark ages, or worse. The point is that many or most of our tools and machines will likely have to be recreated from scratch.

I’ve never seen any articles that look beyond just surviving a TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) event. I have read only one book on the subject. This article provides a collection of information that could otherwise be lost forever.

Where are you and what is your life like if you survive that magic first year?

What if you are one of the 10% of humankind left? How far will your lifestyle have fallen in historical terms?

Most of the industrially skilled folks will be either be scratching the dirt to eat or be dead. It’s very unlikely you could pull together enough skilled people to restart an existing oil refinery, and even if you did where would you bring the crude oil from? The same goes for electric power plants and the fuel for them. With no fuel for internal combustion engines and power plants, how far will the technological base for humankind fall?

Water wheels and later steam engines powered the Industrial Revolution. Water wheels wouldn’t be too difficult to build if you have a book containing the mathematics of water wheel efficiency. An electric motor turned backward will generate electricity, or so I’ve read, and you could connect that to a water wheel. But you better get a book on that to make it work correctly. How do you make a steam engine relief valve or pressure gauge so your boiler doesn’t explode destroying your engine and killing the operators? I don’t know. Do you?

So we must preserve this knowledge ahead of time.

Now, while that knowledge is still available. See Part 2 of this series for the means to safely store PDFs and other electronic files. This knowledge breaks down into three major groups.

Natural Resources

Where are the mines and reserves of minerals such as iron, copper, aluminum and many, many more? How do you refine that into an industrially usable product? Where are the petroleum and natural gas wells? How do you safely harvest these energy products?

Then, there are trees for lumber, paper, and more products. Cutting lumber is easy enough if you have the right tools. Making paper is more complex.

Preppers pretty well have food crops and medicinal herbs covered and domesticated animals too if domesticated animals aren’t near extinct after that terrible first year of starvation of the masses. There are also non-food plants such and cotton and many more.

Preservation of Existing Knowledge

Modern knowledge that must be preserved breaks down into six broad categories:

  1. The Basics: Reading, writing, history, etc. A complete set of homeschooling books will be needed here. Our children as yet unborn must learn the basics, from elementary school through high school, or they won’t understand the advanced material below.
  2. Science:  Particularly the physical sciences such as chemistry, physics, and many more.
  3. Mathematics:  All types of mathematics, not just the basics.
  4. Engineering: There are many fields of engineering including chemical, civil, electrical, industrial, mechanical, mining and more.
  5. Medicine: Yes, the advanced diagnostics machines of today will be gone, but humankind will still need medical professionals and medicines.
  6. Machines: Generating electricity, petroleum refining, communications, transportation, etc. All of these machines must be rebuilt unless we want to live in the dark ages.

The History of Technology

If we are indeed forced to rebuild much from scratch, we must save the knowledge of how to build metal machines with the technology of the industrial revolution. I have 140 books, in PDF form, that describe how to make basic parts like threaded metal screws, bolts, nuts and much more. But nothing on how to make the machine tools to make these parts. Nothing on the design, including detailed construction drawings, construction techniques, operator’s manuals and repair manuals for screw making machines. This only scratches the surface.

Google, Microsoft, and others have copied millions of old books on which the copyright has expired, copyrighted material prior to 1923, and non-copyrighted material into PDF files. Many of these old books can be downloaded for free at archive.org. Others are available at Google books and other sites.

Are all of the required books necessary to recreate the manufacturing technology at the start of the Industrial Revolution (circa 1760) and since out there now? If so, I haven’t found them, yet. Or, have the super-rich at Google, Microsoft, Facebook and the other “robber barons” of the modern age hidden away all the most important books for their own use?

In all honesty, it may be that construction plans and drawings on machine tools and many other machines were never published because that was considered proprietary material at the time and was discarded when the machines became obsolete. In this case, old machines will have to be found and reverse engineered for the purpose of developing plans, specifications, and drawings to reproduce each machine. This applies to far more than just machine tools. How do you build a horse-drawn wagon, agricultural machinery, a steam engine, and tens of thousands of other machines?

I do know that I can’t find, collect and disseminate all of this knowledge alone. It’s just too big of a project for one person, or even a small handful of people. There needs to be a non-profit entity founded, with donations, volunteer workers, paid staff, offices, a library of physical books purchased, books on PDF found and downloaded some of which should be printed out, warehouse space, reverse engineering facilities and the drawings created and manuals written for old machines plus machine shops of old and modern tools to recreate the old machines. I’ve given this a lot of thought and will share these thoughts and some of the books and materials I have collected to date in this and the remaining three parts of this series.

Part 7 of this series will be about how to gather existing knowledge. Basically, search Wikipedia for the basic articles on the six categories listed above, download the PDF of each related page and check the footnotes for industry standard reference books that can be purchased. Textbooks, workbooks, and lab manuals will also be needed on each subject. The cost of buying these books will be beyond everyday people. Hence, the need for a non-profit entity and donations. I will present a partial list of subjects with links to the top Wikipedia articles on the subjects.

Part 8 of this series will discuss ideas and some links on gathering the history of technology.

Part 9 of this series will discuss some ideas on restoring civilization using the stored material and ideas on organizing and operating a non-profit entity to gather and disseminate this knowledge.

Information Sources

Disclaimer: Many of the books, magazines and other material contained on the CDs and DVDs below are over 100 years old. Some of the information and techniques described may not meet today’s safety standards or may have been subsequently proven just plain wrong or harmful. Neither the author nor publisher of this article have read any of this material or expresses any recommendations thereof. The products are listed here simply for their historical interest.

The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Civilization in the Aftermath of a Cataclysm by Lewis Dartnell: This is the one book I have found on restoring civilization. It is an excellent book and covers some subjects I had not thought of before. You should consider this book required reading.

Appropriate Technology Library” (ATL): Dr. Dartnell’s book discusses the “Appropriate Technology Library” (ATL)” which I immediately purchased. Their website seems to have moved to a new domain name so I am not sure if this is the correct link.

“The Appropriate Technology Library is one of the world’s most comprehensive, cost-effective, and compact do-it-yourself sustainable living resources! The AT Library contains the full text and images from over 1050 of the best books dealing with all areas of do-it-yourself technology.”

This library was assembled by Village Earth – The Consortium for Sustainable Village-Based Development and is available for purchase from them for around $100 on 5 or 6 DVDs. These books were assembled for use by third-world villages. However, in an extreme disaster scenario, it would be invaluable. This library is NOT FREE and must not be given away without paying Village Earth. These books would be very useful for TEOTWAWKI survivors picking themselves up off the ground but is not directed towards restoring civilization.

Encyclopedia Britannica: The entire 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica in PDF files is located here. In the 1980’s this version was touted as an excellent source of information for surviving harsh times.

ICS – International Correspondence Schools: A collection of correspondence courses (self-taught courses) on a wide range of subjects. Courses from the 1890s to about the 1950s. www.librum.us/ and icsarchive.org/I saw no written restriction to copying these files so I downloaded many PDF files.

Your Old Time Book Store: This store has numerous reprints of old books on old technology. They are liquidating their inventory and you can use the coupon code 75OFF to get 75% off the price.

Other sources of information

While searching Amazon I ran across a data DVD by an eBay seller. I purchased the DVD. It had numerous out of copyright books in PDF format that were published between 1870 and 1923. What a great concept! If you want to replicate old time technology, acquire books on that technology contemporary to the time when that technology was in use. I ultimately purchased 80 DVDs from the seller. These subjects include older books that would be of interest to preppers and books that fall more into the history of technology theme.

(Note from Daisy: If you haunt thrift stores and yard sales like I do, consider printing off a list of these resources to keep in your wallet so that you can spot them in the bargain bins.)

Here are some physical books I have purchased that follow these themes and normal prepper type books.

What resources do you recommend?

Did I miss any books that you find essential for rebuilding society after a complete collapse? Please share them in the comments section below.

Coming soon

Part 7 will be about gathering existing knowledge. If you missed the previous articles in this series, you can find them here.

The Organic Prepper

4 thoughts on “250+ Books That Will Help Rebuild Civilization

  1. Younger generation can’t write, tell time on analog clock, don.t have hand written writing skills or have the basic skills to use most simple hand tools. Home Depot here where I live has classes to teach the basics to the teens and 20 somethings. If it isn’t hand held with a screen and buttons the are truly SOL. If that’s whats going to restore the future we are all screwed. The trades are lost.

    1. i started out as a carpenter more than 30 years ago.

      i was amazed that no other carpenters, save for a handful over the years, even know how to sharpen their own chisels. they send them out to be resharpened.
      when i started there were no nail guns or battery operated drills.
      now, even professionals can barely build anything unless it comes off the shelf in the size and shape they need. much has been lost in my short professional life.
      and now there is a lack of younger guys getting into it in this area. sad.

  2. there is no need to build new machine tools. what a silly thought. you would first need a steel foundry and all things associated with that on an industrial level to start thinking about making a machine tool from scratch. not only that, you need other machine tools to make a new machine tool. the truth is that machine tools don’t really go away. they get snapped up by old machinists when new ones come online in factories. the old ones are in peoples garages ,basements or barns. some of them are old enough where they can run on line shafts that can be powered by water, or battery power. there is also another power source. alcohol.
    it’s easy to make but you need to have the right engine to burn it, or the know how to convert proper new ones. believe me, there are plenty of folks who can do that. i know em.
    still, all in all a good article.

    of course i guess you better start printing out all that stuff on the cd’s now before the internet and electricity go out.

    funny, i’ve got a bunch of the titles mentioned there.

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