The Ultimate Guide to Old-Fashioned Country Skills – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Ultimate Guide to Old-Fashioned Country Skills
Edited by Abigail R. Gehring
Published by: Skyhorse Publishing (5 Aug. 2014)
Just under 800 pages, Paperback, 5.7 x 21.6 x 27.9 cm
ISBN 978-1629142166
List Price: US$ 24.95

Old-Fashioned Country Skills1Here is how the publishers introduce the book:

Whether you’re a suburbanite looking to live more simply or a die-hard homesteader interested in taking your garden to the next level, this guide is packed with step-by-step instructions, useful tips, vintage photographs and illustrations, and time-honored wisdom – creating one of the most comprehensive books on country skills available. This book is compiled of tested and practical experience passed down from generations of farmers and homesteaders.

Here readers can learn about:

  • Creating a vegetable garden
  • Canning and preserving
  • Keeping poultry
  • Soap making
  • Natural medicine
  • Bridge building
  • Farm mechanics
  • Crop rotation
  • Cattle and dairying
  • The basics of beekeeping
  • Foraging for wild food
  • Fertilizing, soils, drainage, and irrigation
  • Building a barn

And much, much more!

Success comes to the person who works the most efficiently – not simply the person who works the hardest. Learn invaluable advice and tips for how to create a sustainable lifestyle and live off the land.

And now let's come to my take on this publication:

I must say that I was not prepared for the size of this book. When it arrived I thought that the book had been over-packaged as Amazon tends to do as I had expected it to be a much smaller book. That, however, I am afraid, is about the only positive thing one can say about this book really.

What we have here is an almost 800 page letter format book filled with pages culled from old books such as “Good Housekeeping Family Cook Book” from 1909, “Carpentry” from 1916, “Fences, Gates and Bridges”, edited by George A Martin (no date), “Shelters, Shacks and Shanties” (1920), “The Amateur Carpenter” (1915), etc., and while it is quite useful, maybe, to have important extracts from such old books in one volume the cover did suggest a book of much greater interest, something more modern, and not something rather edited together from books, some of which are out of copyright. Please note that I say that some of those books are out of copyright here deliberately as some of those books of which extracts have been used, such as “Shelters, Shacks and Shanties” have not so long ago been republished and thus are, once again, under copyright protection.

At a price of almost US$ 25 for information and instructions, alas the pictures are so small in most instances that they are of no use at all, that can today be gathered together on the Internet I, as a reviewer and writer, can but despair at the audacity.

Never judge a book by its cover the old adage goes and in this instance it is more than true. The cover also never indicated that it was a book that was edited together out of stuff culled from other books but list the editor, as does Amazon, as the author, as it simply says “by Abigail R. Gehring” and not “edited by Abigail R. Gehring”, as it should in this case. Thus the cover and the publicity coverage about this book is misleading as, as said already, the cover promised a book of a much different nature and one that one hoped was actually written by someone with knowledge on the subjects and not culled from books by other authors, even though the books and authors are mentioned.

All I can say in summing up this book and my take on it, though it will neither make me very popular with the, well I cannot call her the author, nor the publishers, that it is a shame that so much paper has been wasted on this book. But, even though I will not be very popular after this in certain quarters it is not my business to ingratiate myself with publishers or authors, editors, writers, but to present to my audience the truth.

Had I bought this book and not received it as a review copy I would certainly not be very happy at all and would have been felt misled by the cover and the write up concerning the book.

Let's just leave it at that, I think...

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