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118 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone, so in discussing on another thread about paper costs it got me to wonder, If you could have just one book (or a handful) in printed form what one would you choose?

I am thinking of one that would encompass as much knowledge as possible, from medical to survival etc. all skills the world would need if everyone with knowledge where to die out and we were in a primitive setting again sort of deal.

(doesn't have to be knowledge could be stories but if no other books or sources of information existed I would think how to and non fiction would help the most.)

I think in the movie Time machine they asked this question and the guy brought like 3 books back in time to the stone age with him. (might have been differnt movie its been a long time since I saw that movie lol)

Thoughts? :)

40 Posts
Read the books and learn the skills yourself so then you don't have to rely on the books?

Oh and in before everyone says the bible.
Well said.

To be blunt, one book really won't matter if you haven't truly practiced the knowledge you've obtained. The only book that will truly save your life (in this world or the next) is the bible.

118 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I suppose your right, Just rewatched the time machine (1960) and its a great film. At the end he takes three books with him to teach the primitive man of the future where all tech died out. and they ask, which 3 would you take with you?

In that case I would wonder, what 3 books would hold all you need to know to rebuild the world?

I suppose I better start looking though amazon for the answer lol :D

Super Moderator
12,162 Posts
For three books only concerning survival in a PAW scenario:

SAS Survival Handbook by by John "Lofty" Wiseman
Dare To Prepare by Holly Deyo or When Technology Fails by Matthew Stein
Storey’s Basic Country Skills by John & Martha Storey or The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery

Check the two sets of options and pick one of each that suits you best.

Just my opinion.

The subject of rebuilding the world would require a much larger library. Here are my thoughts on the subject, from several past posts:

Civilization books

If single purchase collections are allowed:

1. 32-volume Encyclopedia Britannica
2. Backwoods Home 'The Whole Shebang' Anthology collection
3. A.D.A.M Medical encyclopedia
4. Complete secular K-12 Home Schooling curriculum
5. 52-volume Harvard 5-feet of Books collection

If single books only:

1. When Technology Fails
2. Storey's Basic Country Skills
3. Magic and Medicine of Plants
4. SAS Survival Manual
5. Starship Troopers

Just my opinion

I think there would be some major differences in the list of books depending on the meaning of rebuilding civilization. Rebuilding and Civilization both have some rather broad meanings. Starting a civilization from scratch on a new planet is one thing. Bringing a civilization back from severe disintegration. Rebuilding a society is something else again.

The first and third would need histories and religious works for reference. The second not so much as other past histories would have little bearing and history and religion would develop on their own.

But I suspect the OP means, what are the best books to cover all the scenarios. So I'll give it a shot, based on that, and my own library.

Short list:
1. 32-volume Encyclopedia Britannica
2. Backwoods Home 'The Whole Shebang' Anthology collection
3. A.D.A.M Medical encyclopedia
4. Complete secular K-12 Home Schooling curriculum
5. 52-volume Harvard 5-feet of Books collection

Some socio-political:
World Atlas
Oxford unabridged Dictionary
Charter of Liberties
Articles of Freedom
Declaration of Independence
US Constitution
Bill of Rights
The Federalist Papers
Holy Bible - Old Testament
Holy Bible - New Testament
Book of Mormon

Some generalities:
Medical Library
Comprehensive emergency preparedness/self-sufficiency/survival reference book library
Collection of uniformly leather bound editions of classic literature
Collection of general & popular fiction & non-fiction books & periodicals
Current encyclopedias/almanacs/books of facts, etc.
Collection of historical encyclopedias/almanacs/books of facts, etc
Comprehensive general reference section
Comprehensive technical reference section
Comprehensive how-to reference collection
Encyclopedia Britannica reference library
professional writer's edition thesaurus
professional writer's edition manual of style
professional writer's edition book of quotations
library issue unabridged dictionary
library issue reference atlas
library issue geography reference
library issue astronomy reference
library quality globe w/stand
moon globe / solar system model & star map globe w/pivot stand
classroom quality wall map assembly w/maps

Some specifics:
Medical books:
Gray's Anatomy
Magic And Medicine Of Plants Readers Digest
The American Medical Association Home Medical Encyclopedia
The Home Remedies Handbook John H Renner
Emergency War Surgery US Government
Ship's Medicine Chest and Medical Aid at Sea US Government
Where There Is No Dentist Murry ****son
Where There Is No Doctor David Werner
Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West Gregory L Tilford
Backyard Medicine Bruton-Seal & Seal
Wilderness Medicine by William W Forgery
Modern Essentials 4th ed. - Guide to the Use of Essential Oils by Aroma Tools
Ditch Medicine Hugh L Coffee
Edible and Medicinal Plants, A Survival Guide
Herbal Formulas
Ship Captain's Medical Guide 22nd Edition Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Ship Captain's Medical Stores

Outdoor books:
Bushcraft Richard Graves
Outdoor Survival Skills Larry Dean Olsen
Wildwood Wisdom Ellsworth Jaeger

Prep manuals & related:
Dare To Prepare Holly Deyo
Making The Best Of Basics - Family Preparedness Handbook James Talmage Stevens
Nuclear War Survival Skills Cresson Kearny
SAS Survival Handbook John "Lofty" Wiseman
SAS Urban Survival Handbook John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman
Stay Alive! Survival Skills You Need John D McCann
The Art Of War Sun Tzu
When Technology Fails Matthew Stein

Humanure Handbook Joseph Jenkins
Carrots Love Tomatoes Louise Riotte
Cold Climate Gardening Lewis Hill
Back to Basics Readers Digest
Storey’s Basic Country Skills John & Martha Storey
Storey’s Survival Wisdom
Storey’s Country Wisdom
The Encyclopedia of Country Living Carla Emery
The Guide To Self-Sufficiency John Seymour
Something on biodiesel

Machinery's Handbook
Machinery's Handbook supplement

Some fiction:
Have Space Suit, Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein (An inspiration to me when I was young)
Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein (Socio/political commentary in novel form.)
And the rest of the works of Robert A Heinlein (for the same reasons as above.)
Bulldozer by Stephen W. Meader (Another inspirational story when I was in my teens.)
A Hero For Henry by Herbert R. Purdum (A great old west comedy with valuable lessons.)
An Elephant For Aristotle by L. Sprague de Camp (Another Socio/political comentary in novel form.)
The works of Louis L'Amour The westerns and Night Over The Solomons & West From Singapore
The works of Zane Gray
The works of Edgar Rice Burroughs especially Tarzan At The Earth’s Core
The works of Earle Stanley Gardner
The works of Andre Norton especially Sea Siege
The works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The works of Sir Henry Rider Haggard
The works of Sandra Brown (Believe it or not, I learned a lot from romance novels.)
The works of Nora Roberts (Another fine romance novelist that gave me a lot to think about.)

Just a kind of random start.

Just my opinion.

5 books on which to base the rebuilding of civilization in the late stages of a PAW

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein (Socio/political commentary in novel form.)

An Elephant For Aristotle by L. Sprague de Camp (Another Socio/political commentary in novel form.)

Miss Manners' Guide for the Turn-of-the-Millennium by Judith Martin (More than just manners. How people interact in many different situations.)

The Art of War by Sun Tzu (Insights on how political entities deal with one another)

A single volume containing:
The Ten Commandments (A true interpretation)
Charter of Liberties
The Federalist Papers
Declaration of Independence
US Constitution
Bill of Rights
Articles of Freedom

32-volume Encyclopedia Britannica
52-volume Harvard 5-feet of Books collection
Complete secular K-12 Home Schooling curriculum

Just my opinion.

Inglorious Deplorable
21,136 Posts
If I lived under an oppressive regime where only one book was allowed, I'd choose the Qur'an to demonstrate submission until I had the opportunity to act.

1,272 Posts
If it had to only be one book, it would be the most recent printout of my notes, double sided, printed at two pages per side of paper, in hard copy it’s about two inches thick.

6,681 Posts
Wilderness Medicine by Aurbach or Enclyopedia of Country living by Emery.

It is a toss up between the 2, but they are the most comprehensive survival books out there. The Medicine is more centered on surviving extreme conditions all around the globe and Emery's doesn't have as much medical. But if I had to narrow it down to 2 reference books I guess those would be it.

For inexpensive books try get many books for $1 plus shipping. I got a 4th edition of Wilderness Medicine for a very fair price, around $25 IIRC.

Combat marxism Now!
8,476 Posts
Engineers handbook is my absolute first choice. If you can build it, and make it properly, all is not lost.

It's my opinion that modern technology has been the major contributing factor in improving the human condition. From the most basic need of pumping clean water for irrigation and household consumption, to properly handling waste, using energy to heat and cool, to keep food safe, to keep us from suffering in temperature extremes and on and on.

The bible on the other hand is a collection of stories, each of which provides little in the way of practical engineering know how. And therefore, little in the way of real world, practical knowledge. God's word will remain intact without my intervention.

Modern science on the other hand, can save your hide.

Isaiah 41:10, Acts 5:29
5,539 Posts
1. King James Bible (prefer an itty bitty one that is easy to carry, the Henry Morris Study Bible, or the Defender's Study Bible)

2. The Service Hymnal: A Lutheran Homecoming
3. Pigs in the Parlor: A Practical Guide to Deliverance

The state of our souls trumps everything.

If I could build a small library, it would include the above plus:

The Sequence of Events in the Old Testament
Dispensational Truth: God's Plan in the Ages
The Book of Concord (1958 edition)
The Early Church Fathers (38 volumes)
Luther's Works (55 volume American Edition)
The Late Great Planet Earth
The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict
Chronological and Background Charts of Church History
The Wall Chart of World History: From Earliest Times to the Present
Pocket Guide to the Constitution
The Federalist Papers
Print copy of all the documents at
The Art of War
Slouching Toward Gomorrah
Culture of Death
Where There is No Vet
Where There is No Doctor
Where There is No Psychiatrist
Where There is No Dentist
Emergency War Surgery
Special Operations Medical Handbook
A Midwife’s Handbook
Clinical Naturopathic Medicine
How Stuff Works Volumes 1 and 2
Foxfire series
APA Manual of Style
Robert's Rules of Order
American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary
Set of laminated Quick Access Facts
ATP 3-34.40 General Engineering
TM 3-34.85 (FM 5-34)/MCRP 3-17A Engineer Field Data

Wile E Coyote, Genius.
33,691 Posts
Apparently you can download a portable version of Wikipedia.
Marks' Engineering handbook.
Wilderness medicine.
Halliday and Resnick Physics.
Reeds nautical almanac.
Machinery's handbook.
Encyc. country living.
Wild foods identification.

118 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
WOW I have alot of research to do on these books! Jerry that is extensive! thank you guys for your thoughts! :)

But I have to ask, Why the bible? I mean I believe in god, but if you were going to raise a primitive culture from the dirt after war tore the world apart, would you want to introduce controversy into their lives? or is there another reason besides religion you would bring it? Or do you believe that religion would give them a sort of balance? something to bring them all together as a unit?

Just curious, I am very open minded and I have read the bible a few times through over the years. But if you were rebuilding mankind, what role would it play in aiding the revival of society?

118 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
What role would it play?

Without faith, where is hope?

Well say no one knew about anything anymore after generations of no information due to perhaps a nuclear war that reset the earth, and you had the choice of what information to give them, like in the movie the time machine, then they would never have known about religion or anything else and you are reconstructing our race as a whole, So therefore to a generation that had no knowledge and never heard of religion, why introduce it to them?

Not to say that you should not, just wondering what benefits it has on turning nomadic savages into a civilization.

Apprentice Geezer
2,443 Posts
I would do my e-book reader, and or its backup (with solar recharge) with most of Jerry D's list (and more) that is currently on it.

Its a pocket library; mostly used for recreational reading and recipes (I put them in a .txt file).

I looked at the EOTWAWKI scenerios and unless you are talking biblical disasters (i.e. asteroid/comet impact) its not at all likely that even most knowledge would be wiped out (although domination by a world theocracy, both the christians and believers in islam burned the library at Alexandria at different times, might come close).

The ancient Romans actually came close to an industrial revolution and it has basically only taken 1000 years to get to out present technology level since the knowledge depression of the dark ages.

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