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So, this evening, the family cavorted outside. The rather sexy wife put together a hammock for yours-truly (my first ever) and the little Potatoes flitted about. As the smaller people engaged in said, I thumbed through a classic — Life After Doomsday* (1980) by Dr. Bruce Clayton. It is fantastic, academic work on surviving the sum of all fears — nuclear exchange between major powers. Some years back, I had the pleasure of corresponding with the good doctor via email and found him to be a gentleman and a scholar, and no less concerned with survival, even in his advanced years.

Anyway, whilst thumbing through the tome, I happened upon a very interesting idea for preparing for the end of the world. Reproduced below:

This is the final chapter of Life After Doomsday, and before closing I would like to discuss two subjects which didn't quite fit anywhere else in the book. The first is what I call the Leibowitz project; the second is the problem of finding a solution to the arms race. There is a recurrent theme in survival fiction in which someone carefully selects and preserves an assortment of books intended to help civilization rebuild after the disaster. This theme appears in A Canticle for Leibowitz, Lucifer's Hammer, and The Time Machine, to name only three examples. It is also an important theme in medieval history. We are familiar with the ancient Greek and Roman classics only because the books were deliberately preserved through the Dark Ages by monks and others who recognized their worth.

The Leibowitz project is my informal attempt to see that the knowledge essential to civilization's recovery after a nuclear war will be available when it is needed. To this end I propose that you select three books as a legacy for the future. The first two books should be a reference book and a textbook relating to your profession; that way you can pass on the knowledge of the field you know best. The third book might be anything. It could be a book about history, art, religion, science, poetry, philosophy, or even fiction. When you have selected your three books, buy a new hardback copy of each.

Treat each book with insecticide, wrap it in several layers of plastic and foil, and seal it airtight. Label the package well. Then store it in a safe place. Maybe, someday, we'll all be glad you did.
With those parameters, what would be your:
  • Reference book.
  • Textbook related to your profession.
  • Your third "anything" book.
Thanks for any thoughts. This should be interesting. :D

* This one:

"Audel's Carpenters and Builders Guide" 4 volume set

"Gun Digest Revolver Disassembly Guide" (Preferably an older edition, the newer ones leave out some guns that have fallen out of favor.)

"Sermon on the Mount" by Emmet Fox

Build, defend, pray. The prayer and hopefully a revolver will help feed you.
For some reason I feel like revolvers will stand the test of time better than semiautomatics.
I don't know that thumb drives are a good option in a post nuclear war scenario.
Lots of EMP action will fry nearly every computer in existence. Hard copies are the best way.
Interesting thread...thank you for starting.

Reference Book :
Camping and Woodcraft , by Horace Kephart , 1922 edition
( Available in re-print form )
I know that a lot of the resources and items , in it , are dated and not easily found ( if at all ) in today's world...But..
Much if the book tells you how to make stuff that you will need , from everyday found items or items found in nature...
As opposed to just using the ready made items , that may no longer be around post doomsday.

Professional Book :
In my current profession of "Behavior Specialist" in a school....there are millions of words in print that "define" or otherwise "guide" my job...
Mostly I just use what I know about the kid , the situation and my experience to help solve any issues that come up so....

How 'bout one from my former profession :
FM 21-75 Combat Skills of the Soldier
This manual covers all manner of useful skills and knowledge.
Such as :
First Aid...
As well as giving a basic run down of how to use basic Infantry weapons and equipment , which may come in handy , if one finds some "toys" , that still may work....

Third "Anything" book :
The Hobbit , by J.R.R Tolkien
This is my favorite book ...lots to enjoy in it , even as an adult.
Plus a break from all the doom and drama , that will be going on in a doomsday situation , is needed at times.
Hmmm...this would be challenging.

I’m a clinical laboratory scientist, and a generalist at that, which means I work in and have an in-depth understanding of various specialty areas (chemistry, hematology, immunohematolgy, microbiology etc etc).

Each of the specialty areas has volumes of texts themselves.

Then there are the specialties revolving around the instrumentation and methods used for testing.

Best would be to select a specialty, and hope that other specialized folks squirreled away there own texts (and survived), then hope to meet up (somehow), then setup a university...

So my books:


Pocket-ref, and a magnifying glass. I’d likely stick with pocket - ref, rather than desk -ref, simply due to its portable size. Easy to have with you. Magnifying glass, as we’d age, so will our eyes...don’t “see” ophthalmologists being out and about, conveniently, in said future.


Blood: Textbook of Hematology, James H Jandl

Anything book: dang that’s a really tough one! Like Stephen Kings the Stand,...but seeming as it sounds we would be living such (or similar) circumstances, would be less than an enjoyable read at the time.

Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
To answer my own question:

For the reference book, one I, well, referenced for a very long time and contains excellent, real-world information on surviving and triving:


The textbook related to my profession would be difficult to distill considering the enormous amount of literature on the topic. I finally had to go with a dated text that covers a system so ubiquitous in computer science it would be fitting. More importantly, in doing so, it covers so much of the fundamentals with respect to operating systems, computer architecture, network administration, et al.


The "anything" book was the hardest of them all. Paine's Common Sense instantly came to mind. Ditto Cervantes' Don Quixote and Thoreau's Walden. The sapiential literature of the Judeo-Christian Bible (Proverbs, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, the Book of Wisdom, the Wisdom of Sirach, et al.) was another. In Greek philosophy, I was sorely tempted to go with The Discourses of Epictetus.* Perhaps, as a cautionary tale, Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

No, I think I will choose one far more Earthy, primal, and one from the early days of our species. The work, attributed to Vātsyāyana, The Kama Sutra is often, mistakenly, considered solely a sex manual in the west. In reality, it covers the art of living, emotional fulfillment, social structures and hierarchies, the nature of love and eroticism, finding a good spouse, and even practical matters. And, well, the planet isn't going to repopulate itself. :p


I was just thinking "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by Carla Emory and perhaps the Foxfire books would serve people well.
Much better than my original revolver manual idea. :rolleyes:
I was just thinking "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by Carla Emory and perhaps the Foxfire books would serve people well.
Much better than my original revolver manual idea. :rolleyes:

That’s the thing that makes the 3 book choice so challenging!

For myself, if some rarity dystopian event were to occur, I would hope that repositories of knowledge would still remain intact...libraries, book stores, churches, personal collections etc etc.

It’s not possible for a few individuals to have all encompassing knowledge in just a book, and then be able to pass that knowledge on. The simple passing on of that knowledge requires community, a community open to learning.
I'll take a stab, just for fun.

Reference: Log Cabins: How to build and furnish them.
Screen Shot 2019-07-11 at 13.16.01.jpg
Text: Plant Propagation, Principles and Practice (probably out of print)

Anything book: Holy Bible
The Bible

The Dictionary

And then it’s a tossup between a textbook on writing and one of the classic gunsmithing books.

It’s what you get when a gunsmith becomes an English teacher.:)
I'm going to go with a Foxfire book
DSM 5 from my professional days
Phenomenology of Perception by M. Merleau Ponty because I'm mean.
Haha, this is so good to see. Recently, thinking along similar lines (and knowing that books in my home which will be needed for this are plentiful already) I bought a new laptop and an extra battery, stuffed a bunch of stuff into it that was copied from the net, wrapped it in Aluminum foil, multiple layers) then into a faraday bag, and it then went into my faraday cage with extra resisters, capacitors, soldering devices, solar chargers, radios, etc etc etc. However, instead of 3 books, I have many more than 100, many, many more. Books like the Firefox series, The wonderful LDS prep books, some military .pdfs, ways to raise rabbits, goats and chickens, how to make a windmill, etc etc. on and on. I have a spare drive well wrapped, and DVDs with copies of all of this on it as well. As an aside, my wife thinks I'm nuts, but having old time cookbooks is something I also keep around and for the very reasons you suspect they may be necessary. Regardless, the capacity of a 1 tb drive is stunning. Lots of personal pics, music, movies, etc etc. Have most of it also on a thumbdrive and also on a DVD.

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