Written by an archeologist who is not content to unearth artifacts, but wants to understand and learn how to make a basket, say, or maintain a proper hedgerow, Cræft: An Inquiry Into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts could be a fascinating exploration of the lost or almost-lost arts of making things. And indeed, there are some glimmers of that here and there. But the author spends a great deal of time trying to convince us that we should go back to traditional basketry, for instance (even as he explains it takes hours to make one basket — and only after having cultivated the branches required to make the basked for a couple of years!) instead of consuming cheap plastic things. Even if you like the idea of traditional baskets, the argument just does not make sense.
Also, the explanations of how stone walls are built, leather is tanned, or roofs thatched the old way are rather cryptic and would greatly benefit from some visuals. All that makes for a rather tedious book. Too bad! If you’ve ever admired a well-made pitchfork or a water-tight basked, it would be wonderful to understand better how they are made.