David Bodanis

I Will Survive (Perhaps)

The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch


The Bodley Head 341pp £20 order from our bookshop

Christmas 2014 and dead bodies are littered outside the barbed wire at the base of a giant wind turbine, a half-dozen cold-eyed National Trust guardians with shotguns standing over them. Some 99.99 per cent of humans on earth have died, in the great plague of mid-2014, and the survivors are desperate for access to what remains of the past.

This, roughly, is one possible setup – he doesn’t go into the details – for Lewis Dartnell’s quite remarkable new book. By showing what technology would be needed ‘to rebuild our world from scratch’, he neatly highlights what hidden knowledge we constantly depend on, how fragile it is and how very much we should respect it. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Why did the 'bold and determined' Empress Matilda never manage to become Queen regnant? Peter Marshall reviews a n… ,
    • From the Archive: Martyn Bedford on Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' ,
    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,