book reviews

Survivalism books
Reviewed by: T.J. Nelson

There's a myth that survivalists are only concerned with preserving their own individual safety. In fact, survivalists are mainly concerned with preserving civilization in the event of a disaster. But in order to preserve civilization, you have to be alive.

The Prepper's Blueprint 1st ed: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Prepare For Any Disaster
Tess Pennington

B y relying on yourself you will find freedom, writes the author of this 8½×11-inch, 430-page book. Tess Pennington doesn't waste time telling you which kind of laser dot finder is best for your AK-47, or how to survive by eating fire ants, rubbing sticks together, and drinking your own urine, as useful as those skills might be. Just practical lists that people with pets and children might not have thought about, like keeping your dog on a leash and stocking up on food—things for the ordinary, average person who doesn't keep extra concertina wire in their garage and is not known by three names by the BATF.

The average person moves every five years, so the biggest obstacle for most of us is finding a place to store all that stuff. But even apartment dwellers can still learn how to purify water, keep their car and their teeth fixed, and most importantly, plan ahead. Think about how you would survive in a disaster: what if the water became radioactive and there was no Honey Boo Boo on TV for three whole months?

Surviving a Honey Booboocalypse might not be easy. But I can say that for the things I'm knowledgeable about, like medical issues, nutrition, and technology, this author is accurate. The book is also highly readable. I plan to grab my copy at the first sign of zombies. If nothing else, the 430 pages will provide you with toilet paper for a long, long time. But I recommend reading it first.

sep 07 2014

How To Survive the End Of The World As We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times
James Wesley Rawles

S urvivalism started during the Cold War, when people began to realize that civilization could be wiped out in a matter of hours. It took root especially in America, where it appealed to our tradition of independence and self-sufficiency. Survivalists even developed their own culture and vocabulary, with darkly humorous acronyms like WTSHTF (When The Sh*t Hits The Fan) and TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It), which forms the title of this book.

TEOTWAWKI in particular has kind of a Mesoamerican sound to it, like the name of an ancient, wrathful Mayan deity with a 2012 fixation, as in: "The high priests call for more blood sacrifices to spare us from the vengeance of the mighty god Teotwawki."

"Blood sacrifices" is right. As Rawles points out, you would need to store thousands of gallons of water and hundreds of pounds of food just to survive for one year. For some, it would be easier just to lie down and die. But that would be a mistake. Those who surrender are the ones history will forget, while those who murder them, throw their bodies out into the street, and loot their food will become mankind's future. Anyone uncomfortable with that, say the survivalists, had better start preparing now.

The premise of How to Survive TEOTWAWKI is that in the event of a disaster (such as a plague, economic calamity or civil war), civil order could collapse entirely, leaving you with no public services whatsoever. In this scenario, you will have to use firearms to defend yourself against roving gangs of looters from the cities. You will have to know how to dig a latrine pit, grow your own vegetables, and cover your windows to prevent looters from finding and murdering you. You will need a fuel storage tank, a large supply of sandbags, a non-gasoline-powered vehicle, and several miles of concertina wire. And, it goes without saying, you'll need a large supply of ammunition: a few crates of .308, .223, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, 12-gauge, .22 caliber, and maybe some .30-06, for starters.

This guy isn't kidding around.

Obviously, most of this would be easier to do out in the country, so Rawles advocates quitting your job and buying a ranch or farm in a rural area. He recommends using empty ammunition containers (evidently a common household item in the Rawles family) to store wheat, rice, and beans. You will also need to give to charity, not just for moral reasons, but also to help restore order. (The Salvation Army is always grateful for donations of extra ACP rounds and concertina wire.) All good advice; but those who hoped they would only need a little fire extinguisher, a wind-up radio, and a couple bags of rice may find it a bit overwhelming. But if a disaster does happen, those who follow Rawles's advice just might be the only ones who stay alive.

Emergency War Surgery
Second United States Revision, The Emergency War Surgery NATO Handbook

A lthough this book is by no stretch of the imagination a survival manual, it's popular among survivalists, probably because it's full of vital information you need to know in a physical trauma scenario, whether you're a medical doctor or a potential patient.

For example, patients might not know that it's a routine practice to give patients with facial burns a tracheostomy or an endotracheal intubation when they're being evacuated. You also might not know that up to one-third of patients with significant electrical shock eventually will need an amputation. In this book you will learn the various types of damage produced by different types of bullets, the procedures for avoiding infection when repairing flesh wounds, and the symptoms of radiation poisoning. In the field, doctors can't afford MRIs and expensive tests while they try to guess whether the patient's got lupus, an STD, or scleroderma. Usually the diagnosis is fairly obvious, and battle scenarios call for the rigid application of standard procedures: stabilize 'em, glue 'em back together and evacuate 'em out.

Some sections, including the chapters on performing amputations, colostomies, and eye surgery, would probably be of marginal use for the average Joe in the street. A medical background is necessary to completely understand this book. Many of the procedures are well beyond the ability of untrained personnel. But a lot of the information is either basic first aid or basic medical care in a forward battlefield environment. If you've never thought about what could happen if a JDAM falls on you, the stuff in this book will prepare you for it. If you have medical or EMT training, it might even help you save somebody's life. But if you're just looking for a first aid book, there are better choices.

The Modern Survival Manual:
Surviving the Economic Collapse
Fernando Ferfal Aguirre

I n 2001, the economy in Argentina collapsed. The country went from being a major food exporter to a land of starvation, riots, massive crime, and martial law. Fernando Ferfal Aguirre says the American survivalists who talk about growing their own food, buying cows, eating MREs, stocking up on ammunition, moving to a cinder-block compound in the country, and standing guard 24/7 watching for zombies, mutant plague victims, and lawyers from the city are being unrealistic. Those who imagine a Mad Max scenario are being even more so. Aguirre says it will be more like living in modern-day South America, where basic things like traffic lights don't always work, the ATMs are empty, inflation sometimes soars to 5,000%, many of the people have become untrustworthy, and you are unemployed and repeatedly threatened by carjacking, kidnapping and robbery. Society will be so corrupt that you won't just need connections to find a job, you'll need them to find a roll of toilet paper. How do you prepare for this scenario?

The answer, according to Ferfal Aguirre, is simple: get a Glock 31 in .357 SIG (whatever that is). Carry a knife and learn to be brutal. Pack an Uzi in your briefcase. Keep your lentils and white rice dry. Don't eat rats, no matter how hungry you get. Buy lots of Bic lighters. And make your property look like it's already been looted. (Some of us in the USA have that one covered already.)

No matter what happens, civilization won't just end, says Aguirre. You will still have to go to work and buy groceries. There'll just be gradually more and more crime. Most of what you need to know to survive is physical self-defense, and what he says agrees with many other books on the subject: be aware of your surroundings. Avoid the bad guys if possible by running away when you notice the hair standing up on the back of your neck. Says Aguirre: "What you learn in shooting school is what you end up using when you failed at situational awareness." If you do fail, a firearm will at least give you a chance. The cops will eventually show up so they can throw you in jail afterwards, but as the British say, better tried by twelve than carried by six.

Maybe we'll be lucky and our idiot politicians won't push the American economy into total collapse, and we can all keep on picking daisies and smelling buttercups as before. If the S does H the F, it won't necessarily be the E of the W as we K it. Whatever happens, there will be big changes. This book will help you understand what to expect.