• Cræft

  • An Inquiry into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts
  • By: Alexander Langlands
  • Narrated by: Matthew Lloyd Davies
  • Length: 10 hrs and 59 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (97 ratings)

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Cræft  By  cover art

Cræft

By: Alexander Langlands
Narrated by: Matthew Lloyd Davies
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Publisher's summary

In the midst of a seemingly endless supply of mass-manufactured products, we find ourselves nostalgic for products bearing the mark of authenticity - handmade furniture, artisan breads, craft beers, and other goods produced by human hands. What often goes unnoticed is the transformation of our understanding of craft - or rather, craeft - in the wake of industrialization.  

In Craeft, archaeologist and medieval historian Alexander Langlands argues that our modern understanding of craft only skims the surface. His journeys from his home in Wales have taken him along the Atlantic seaboard of Europe, from Spain through France and England to Scotland and Iceland in search of the lost meaning of craft. 

Reaching as far back as the Neolithic period, he combines deep history with scientific analyses and personal anecdotes. We follow the author as he herds sheep, keeps bees, tans hides, spins wool, and thatches roofs. We learn scythes work much better on tall grass than the latest model of weed trimmers, that you can spin wool using a large wooden spoon, and that it was once considered criminal to work on animal hides before a requisite 12-month soak.

©2017 Alexander Langlands (P)2018 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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What listeners say about Cræft

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Too little information too much brag and biography

I absolutely adore this world of history and have read several books in it's realm. This book despite it's appearance is mostly a long winded humble brag about this person's life and work in the world of european historical work and craft.

This book is extremely eurocentric and even has a style that makes it seem like it's written directly to an audience living in the UK. That's fine It can still be interesting... but the pacing, phrasing and tone is exactly that of a meandering BBC documentary with way too much emotional colorful prose and very little information. Way too much time is wasted with words dripping with that type of edge of your seat emotional plucking that's is more "don't touch that dial" feel of scripted television than a deep dive into a historical world of skilled labor and production.

I know far far too much about the author's personal life in comparison to the information gleaned about traditional craft and industry.

I will listen to books like this over and over again usually, but this one is hard to listen to even once.

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7 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

So masculine

You would think in the first three chapters he could talk about women’s role in craeft but everything he talks about revolves around men. I had to shut it off.

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7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

yes!

A perfect mix of idealism, archeology and nostagia. Delivering food for thought and something to contemplate whilst executing my own craeft (pottery).

It strikes a chord that I have felt but rarely heard expressed.

I like all of it but perhaps some might feel the more idealistic and philosophical first and last chapter enough and the substantial middle bit to lengthy..

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3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

importan knowled shared through storytelling.

extremely fascinating book. we all need to be reminded of our ancestral knowledge. I feel it's important that modern generations understand we still possess the tools, imagination and resources to learn and practice the concept of craft and will be healthier and more resilient for it.

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2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Educational and Entertaining

I really enjoyed this book because it shines a light on history that most of us have not read about or heard of.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • DJ
  • 09-23-23

Yes and No

Yes:
We should very much appreciate and preserve ancient and older ways of making things and the deep knowledge involved in these crafts and technologies. We should celebrate being highly skilled. We should be critical of contemporary consumerism, it’s wastefulness, environmental destruction, and inclination for hidden or overt human rights abuses. Yes, technologies such as the combustion engine and electricity have brought with them enormous and irreversible environmental damage and exploitation, as well as industries that brought massive social inequality. It’s a joy and a source of potential meaningfulness to learn about these pre-industrial crafts and understand more about our human past, human nature, and connection to the landscape. Connecting with these older methods and listening to their history is fascinating, especially for those who are already engaged in craft-based work. We have a lot to learn from our great-great-grandparents and older ancestors, which could certainly help us live more sustainable and fulfilling lives in the present. The wonderful work of archeologists, like the author, is so important and we should support their work and research. This book does a great job of celebrating a number of forgotten or now-under appreciated crafts. It is very well narrated and it’s fantastic that the author has so much direct and first-hand understanding of the subject matter.

No:
The book unfortunately falls into heaps of contractions that are the typical pitfalls of having too much nostalgia for the past. Bicycles aren’t bad, and neither are electric hedge clippers. Don’t feel bad using them, please. The “older is better” mindset works against the book in way that sadly undermines its own message and agenda. It fails to adequately acknowledge the privilege required to take this stance and make this argument in the contemporary context. It fails to acknowledge the incredible social positives that have been the result of so many technologies and innovations such as combustion engines, electric motors, and digital communications. We do not need to live like the Amish, and to even get close to implying that we should is woefully ignorant to broader social factors and realities. The book is too specific to England, both to support its message and to appeal to a wider audience. Where does one draw the line in time and innovation between beneficial craeft and negative craeft? The line drawn by the author seems completely arbitrary and subjective to his own experience. How can one disparage the bicycle while simultaneously celebrate the mechanical treadles involved with fiber and textile production? The book is fraught with these types of contradictions, which only seem to serve the author’s resume. There’s a noble effort to celebrate and educate about the skills and technologies presented in the book, but a failure of broader critical thinking and connection that ultimately fails to support the message.
Nevertheless I hope this book and others will inspire many to support the research and preservation of old technologies, and foster a critical perspective towards todays wasteful consumer culture.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

important and entertaining book

this is a wonderful book and the performance is great too. I love pre-petroleum technology and history and small scale agriculture, so I felt like I had found a fellow tribe member in listening to this book

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

incredibly fascinating book.... read in a whisper

I loved this book, the knowledge was esoteric while still being relavent.

narrator has a soothing voice, but is very very very quiet.

As in I had to use speakers designed for outdoor parties.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Victorian/Edwardian Farms plus more!

As a fan of Alex Langlands and the "Farm" TV series, I love this book. So much more detail and explanation. Well-read.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A must read/listen!

Langland's Craeft as enjoyable as it is inspiring. The best of my Audible library.

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