Saturday, December 17, 2011

Book review: How to survive the end of the world as we know it by James Wesley Rawles

After recently reading S M Stirling's Emberverse series and liking it (at least the 2 first books in each series), I decided to look into the survival literature, just in case 'what if' happened. Rawles' book How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It describes how you prepare for a doomsday scenario where government and facilities such as electricity, fuel and food deliveries, and communication breaks down.

His advice is to live in a place that can be self-sufficient for years, and that is defendable against rioters and other criminals when law and order is no more. He describes in details which food items that store well, what medicines to keep on hand, where to get training in First Aid, canning, shooting, and how to learn how to barter (and what to barter with).

The beginning of the book was OK, but it was lacking details for many things when it comes to food production, preservation, and medical issues. Most of the book is focused on details in radio communication, weaponry, and defense tactics. I realize that such knowledge and tools might become a way of surviving, but in the end, what will matter is if you can feed yourself for a longer time.

Of course this book includes a lot of right-wing frenzy, but the truth is that many of us could be much better prepared for a week or more without power, water, and ways of communicating - situations that have and will continue to happen based on hurricanes, storms, and other such events.

For example, more of us should know first aid. But going to army surplus and buying razor wire for cash (so it can't be traced) and hiding old silver coins in the walls for when the dollar is gone, that is not really my thing. But apart from the fear-mongering, there are some really good advice in it. I wish he had included more summaries such as tables and been somewhat less repetitive with his favorite abbreviations. The third, forth... fiftieth time he uses WTSHF (= when the shit hits the fan), it is kind of tiresome.

One interesting fact I learned was that dried wheat grain can be stored for 30 years if they are in moisture- and vermin-proof containers.

His best advice overall are:
1. Don't become overly dependent on gadgets.
2. Learn First aid.
3. Buy tools that last, which are usually older tools.
4. Don't assume that you have access to anything in the rest of society. Be as self-sufficient as you can.

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