Mike Oehler, The $50 and Up Underground House Book (Mole Publishing, 1981)
When the nukes hit, would you rather be in a high rise or a bomb shelter? THIS IS IMPORTANT.
First off: not to put too fine a point on it, Mike Oehler is a sexist asshole. Well, there is a possibility that Mike Oehler was a sexist asshole in the seventies and that leopard has changed his spots; however, we’ll note in passing that the edition I read was a sixth, from 1997, with a number of updates, and he chose to leave the bit in the introduction about how much he hates liberated women, some nasty comments on a drawing, and a lovely aside about how he cooks “the way women used to before they lost every shred of intelligence.” I’ll say it again: these were still there in an edition newly revised and updated sixteen years after the book’s original publication. It has been another sixteen since, so perhaps we should at least attempt to give him the benefit of the doubt—and if he has revised that stuff out, you, of course, may not see it at all, and more power to you. It left one hell of a bad taste in my mouth. Perhaps all the more so because Oehler claims, somewhat self-importantly, in one of the updates that The $50 and Up Underground House Book is the book on the subject of underground housing. That self-importance is justified; every other tome on the subject I have perused refers back to this one. Every single one, even those that then go on to construct what Oehler refers to as “first-thought houses”. (The riff I had in my head on this as I was reading was measure-once houses, referring to the old carpenters’ saw of “measure twice, cut once”.) Specifically, I kept going back in my head to my favorite underground-housing book, Rob Roy’s Earth-Sheltered Houses, which is first-thought to its very core, and wondering over and over again what Oehler must have thought, if he ever read the thing.
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