I’m interested in survivalism/prepping. I have been since I was a kid and began working on the Wilderness Survival merit badge in Boy Scouts. Something about minimalism, self-sufficiency, the “secrets” involved in knowing edible plants, defensive techniques, and food storage, and the revival of the subculture centered around it make the topic perfect for my interests.
A little over a year ago, I decided to put together a “Survival Reference” book that would cover food storage, water, some DIY projects, self-defense, frontier medicine, etc. Since making the decision, I’ve been trying to accumulate as many books on these subjects, as well as supplies and training (so I’d at least have some idea of what I was talking about!). I took courses, studied independently and became licensed in subjects as diverse as firearms self-defense, amateur radio, first aid, US history and cooking. I planted gardens, went hunting, and tried to reduce as many of our family’s costs as possible by pushing a self-sufficiency mindset.
I didn’t investigate the survivalist “culture” as much as the specific tasks, and as a result only recently discovered James Wesley, Rawles and survivalblog.com. If you’re a veteran of the culture, or have been “prepping” in the past decade, you’re probably either staring blankly at your screen (wondering how someone could be so clueless), or you’re grinning a big smirk preparing to go on to a site that has more “cred”. In either case, I’m sorry. I didn’t know who he was, and only discovered him when a handful of other sites I frequent all unanimously expressed condolences for his family (his wife recently passed).
The other day I saw that his latest book was about to come out & figured I’d order it on Amazon. It arrived two days later, and I spent my afternoon reading it.
I have to say I am both disappointed and excited by the book. Disappointed because Rawles covers to some level or another just about everything I’d planned on including in my book, and overjoyed that someone who is far more capable than myself could bring such a well-written, in-depth book to the public.
Rawles does not go into great detail (you’re going to have to learn how to can your own food, skin a deer, reload your own ammunition or mount your radio antennas on your own), but he provides just enough information (often including web links) to give the reader a head start in their search to proficiency on any of the skills he discusses. Rawles also lacks the sickening pride of many survival writers – which is refreshing – so you’re left feeling confident he’s written fact from experience, rather than elaborate tributes to his own ego. Writers like this rock!
The book is great for a beginner, and entertaining (and likely enlightening here & there) for an experienced prepper. If you regularly read his blog, some of the sections of the book may seem familiar, but even so, having all the lists and descriptions in one place is a good thing.
I did not like the paper the book is made of (if it gets a little wet or dirty the pages are like those in a regular novel you’d pick up at the grocer), and in the day I had it my daughter spilled chocolate on it, permanently staining one passage … but for under $10, it’s a great deal nonetheless.
I wish there had been more in-depth medical information, too, but it is understandable why there is not … we live in a litigious society and I’m sure his publisher wouldn’t want to be sued for wilderness dentistry gone wrong or a botched childbirth.
Regardless of your familiarity with any of the subjects, and whether or not you are familiar with his website, I would suggest everyone own a copy, because at its weakest, it will still inspire just about anyone to be more diligent in their personal and family readiness.
Buy the Book:
HOW TO SURVIVE THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times by James Wesley, Rawles (2009)