A History of the Future is the third thrilling novel in Kunstler's World Made by Hand series, an exploration of family and morality as played out in the small town of Union Grove.
Following the catastrophes of the 21st century - the pandemics, the environmental disaster, the end of oil, the ensuing chaos - people are doing whatever they can to get by and pursuing a simpler and sometimes happier existence. In little Union Grove in upstate New York, the townspeople are preparing for Christmas. Without the consumerist shopping frenzy that dogged the holidays of the previous age, the season has become a time to focus on family and loved ones. It is a stormy Christmas Eve when Robert Earle's son Daniel arrives back from his two years of sojourning throughout what is left of the United States. He collapses from exhaustion and illness, but as he recovers, he tells the story of the break-up of the nation into three uneasy independent regions and his journey into the dark heart of the new Foxfire Republic centered in Tennessee and led by the female evangelical despot Loving Morrow. In the background, Union Grove has been shocked by the Christmas Eve double murder by a young mother of her husband and infant son. Town magistrate Stephen Bullock is in a hanging mood.
A History of the Future is attention-grabbing and provocative but also lyrical, tender, and comic - a vision of a future of America that is becoming more and more convincing, and perhaps even desirable, with each passing day.
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I have loved the entire series.
- Ronald Pero
Jim hits the ground running and never takes his foot off the gas.
He shifts focus a bit in this book, widening the narrative scope and shifting away from some of the more quotidian elements that added a novelty and richness to the earlier books, but aren't really necessary at this stage of the story.
There's an interesting dichotomy happening here, because the book feels rough-hewn (deadlines to be met, and so forth) and it a little more sensational than the first two volumes (they'd like to sell a few more copies of this one), but Kuntsler pulls it off, and occasionally tosses in passages of casually spectacular language that literally stun. I tend to think of Jim as a social observer and critic first, and writer second; that these novels are a tool for making some of his social ideas accessible to a wider audience, but this book, and this whole series, retroactively have come to stand fully on their literary merits. Independent of Kuntler's world-view and prognostications these books are damn fine reads.
The vocal performance is really well done. Everything you want, nothing you don't.