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Category: Practical Skills

Book Review: Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun (Paul Barrett)

“Glock” is that rarest of beasts—a mainstream writing in which the author makes zero errors about guns, and takes almost no political positions with respect to guns. This is the most neutral book on the topic I have ever seen, which is surprising given that the author, Paul Barrett, worked and works for the violently and maliciously anti-gun Michael Bloomberg. It is not true, as several other reviewers claim, that “Glock” is pro-gun control. It is a history book, not a book of politics, or, for that matter, a technical book on Glock handguns.

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Book Review: Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected (Rory Miller)

While “Facing Violence” is an interesting book, it seems to me its practical usefulness is limited. It will probably help, to some extent, in “Preparing For the Unexpected.” But the reader shouldn’t get overconfident as a result. It’s like being an armchair general—there is nothing inherently wrong with analyzing things from the comfort of your chair, but it’s not the same thing as, and does not prepare you for, actually being a general. Same here. Moreover, the book is dated by its complete omission of the defensive use of firearms, in these days of widespread citizen carry.

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Book Review: The Apple Grower: A Guide for the Organic Orchardist
(Michael Phillips)

“The Apple Grower” is an excellent book, but not one for the casual apple grower. That doesn’t mean that another, simpler book would be better for the casual apple grower. Rather, it appears to me (very much a non-expert) that apple growing isn’t possible to do casually, so “casual apple grower” is a very small group, consisting of those who pick a few apples of varying quality from their trees and let the rest drop. So, if you’re like me, and planning on planting and maintaining ten or twenty apple trees for my family’s own personal use, this book shows you very well how to do that. But it doesn’t make it sound easy.

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Book Review: The Small-Scale Poultry Flock (Harvey Ussery)

This may be the best “how to” book I have ever read, at least for manual work. Yes, I haven’t even started raising chickens (yet), so my base of knowledge for that praise is small. And yes, the book I read before this was the not-good “Keeping Chickens With Ashley English,” so after that, anything would seem good. But for a combination of clarity, useful information, complete coverage, and a coherent but rational philosophy, I don’t think you can beat this book.

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Book Review: The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Civilization in the Aftermath of a Cataclysm (Lewis Dartnell)

“The Knowledge” is meant as an assist to the human race. But to properly aid the human race, in a post-apocalypse future, two things are required. One is technical knowledge. The other is an understanding of the human race. Lewis Dartnell here offers technical knowledge, but he limits it to knowledge useful for “peaceful coexistence.” Given that violence is an inherent part of humans, which Dartnell seems to not understand, that limitation sharply diminishes the usefulness of his book.

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Book Review: Proof: The Science of Booze (Adam Rogers)

“Proof” is an outstanding book. Neither too short nor too long for its topic, it crisply discusses various elements of the production of (ingestible) alcohol. The author, Adam Rogers, an editor at Wired magazine, writes in a compelling, engaging fashion, including enough science to be interesting and not superficial, without putting in so much science that the average reader gets bored.

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Book Review: Lights Out (Ted Koppel)

“Lights Out” is an introductory work to the topic of US electrical grid vulnerability. It covers, in a brief and somewhat padded manner, the frailty of the grid; the confused and inept preparation of the government; and what some normal citizens themselves are doing in preparation for a temporary, but large-scale and possibly lengthy, failure of the grid.

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Book Review: Traditional Construction Patterns (Stephen Mouzon)

Although the author, Stephen Mouzon, would doubtless not be happy to hear it, “Traditional Construction Patterns” is best viewed as supplement/complement to Marianne Cusato’s “Get Your House Right.” But I do recommend the book, if only because it is one of the few books on the market (though it is quite expensive) that covers this material. If you are planning on building a house based on traditional architecture, you should definitely get this book and focus on it. If you are just interested in the topic, you should stick to Cusato.

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