I think a lot of people don't realize how precarious our lifestyles, our philosophies, and our convictions really are, how much they depend on the society we live in. And if our society were to come tumbling down, how a lot of us would go crashing down with it. I think "World Made By Hand" shows this and makes a lot of people uncomfortable.
Personally I found a lot to like in this story. The main character, Robert Earle, is no hero, and yet this ex-salary man finds himself doing some pretty heroic things during the course of the story. I loved the New Faithers. It is interesting that Kunstler chose a sect-like religious group to be the breath of fresh air. But I found they were the right lever to move the little town of Union Grove in upstate New York. I also really appreciated that in this post-apocalyptic story Kunstler chose to make the bad guys other men, not zombies, not radiation-enhanced monsters, just plain, old ordinary guys that became mean and nasty along the way. I think that making a villain our of an ordinary man is one of the hardest things a writer can do.
I found a few places in the story which needed more explanation. But I felt I could be forgiving, because I enjoyed the story so much, the characters were so endearing, the details of daily life were so compelling, and there was just the right mix of light and darkness. It is simply the best post-apocalyptic story I have read. I have to admit I was a little surprised to realize this, because I had never read this story before, and I had never even heard of Kunstler before. I am definitely going to get a copy of "World Made By Hand" for my bookshelf at home.