The Transition Handbook – From Oil Dependency To Local Resilience Book Review

The Transition Handbook – is written by Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Movement and published by Green Books in the UK and Chelsea Green in the US.

Now I can’t pretend to have read the entire book while I write this, but I plan to. It’s just that it’s 240 big pages long with two to three columns a page – it’s going to take me a while to get through it. And a lot of it is about starting your own Transition initiative which I don’t plan to do. Yet.


But back to the beginning, the whole transition thing of this ‘Transition Movement’ is to do with moving away from the dependency on oil and building resilience – i.e. building a way of coping with the change when oil runs out. And the book is a guide to the issues central this change and how to prepare for a different future.

Split up into three main chapters: The Head, The Heart and The Hands, the book starts off with a great introduction to what it’s all about. The amount of text initially looks fearsome, but Rob Hopkins writes with a relaxed style that draws you in and the more you read the less hard work the book seems. What makes it more interesting is that Rob relies on his own experiences to draw you in and explains things in a clear and relaxed style.

There are also box-outs, quotes from newspapers, authors and experts to help spice things up a bit. There is a reliance of some graphs and charts at the start, but these soon make way to photos or communities and people who are going through the changes outlines in the book.

Having someone writing the book who has been through the experience readers of this book are going through is invaluable. The Transition Tools and Transition Tips are there to ensure future projects go smoother and the insights seem very useful. But the book also makes a good read for those not immediately planning on starting a cultural change in their local town or village. It’s interesting to see what real people from across the world have done and read about something inspiring.

As I mentioned at the start, I haven’t read everything yet, but the story the book tells is very compelling. Flicking to Part Three: The Hands, is an inspiring moment. Seeing the Transition movement in Totnes, Devon (UK) is amazing. Seeing what they achieved and being given a blueprint to do it yourself as well is food for thought. As is how the Transition approach differs from conventional environmentalism in its group approach, proactivity and resilience idea.

If you’re interested in practical solutions to how you and your community can move away from a dependency on oil, or even if you fancy reading a story about how it can be done, I’d recommend this book. The Transition Handbook – From Oil Dependency To Local Resilience is available from Green Books, priced £12.95 and printed on 100% recycled paper. You can see a video of Rob talking about his book here.


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