Survival Fiction Category

Monday, November 4, 2013

77 Days in September by Ray Gorham. (Published in 2011.) 306 Pages.    

Note: Possible spoilers ahead. 

On June 16, 2013, "Retired Rev". wrote a SurvivalBlog article entitled "Prepping For Seniors" and referred to the e-book "77 Days In September." I made a note-to-self on my iPad to read it in the future. However, in the months in between, I've read several self-published End Times-type print books sold on Amazon, and those turned out to be somewhat painful experiences. A piece of advice to writers: If you are not positive that you can punctuate and follow standard grammatical rules, either hire an editor or engage a literate friend to polish your work as countless mistakes are fatal detractions to your story. 

This week I asked my daughter to put 77 Days in September on her Kindle so I could take it on a trip. Happily, Gorham knows the rules. While there were a couple of minor mistakes (an omitted period and a comma error), my husband pointed out that a person often can find errors in print pieces. 

For a light read, "77 Days In September" hits the spot. It's not "War And Peace," but not many books are. I cared about the protagonist and cheered for him to get home. An EMP attack puts the lights out in America, and Kyle Tait, a devoted husband and father, is desperate to return home from Texas to Montana. 

Kyle realizes he must walk the 1,400 plus miles, and winter will be coming up north. He encounters good guys and bad guys, as expected. The story affirms that there are more moral, ethical, and caring people than the opposite types. Many apocalyptic stories are full of only zombies, gangs, criminals, and assorted crazies. Gorham knows these people exist, but he believes that the world is full of good, solid people who won't turn their backs on a person in need. 

How realistic is this story? In the 1500's, Spanish Conquistador, Cabeza de Vaca, along with a slave, Estabanico the Moor, wandered and explored the arid American Southwest for 8 years. Coronado searched for the Seven Cities of Gold for two years in what is now New Mexico and Arizona. My childhood friend had a great-grandparent who got off the boat from Ireland and pushed a wheelbarrow to Texas. Throughout history, armies have marched great distances and climbed mountains in order to wage war. American pioneers walked from the Midwest, crossing the Sierra to California prior to the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. Motivated people will do whatever it takes to survive and travel on foot. It's possible, maybe very difficult, but possible with a bit of luck. 

One final thought is a take-away from this story. To Bug Out and go long distances, have something with wheels to carry your stuff, food, and gear.  Get a garden cart, a Radio Flyer wagon, a baby stroller, a grocery cart, a bike, anything with wheels. You will replenish your stash, and you will need a way to carry it. Think how much water you could pull as opposed to how much water you could carry. Water is heavy. Kyle Tait defended his homemade cart with his life, time after time because he recognized that his life depended on it. 

Thanks, Ray. I enjoyed the read. Recommended. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

First of all: The creators are in the "Hollywood way" so they live there, their friends are all there, They are not going to go build a bunker, they are already working on their next project about an Alien invasion or something like that.  So from my perspective, they did pretty good over all considering the source.

Over acting, oh yeah.  I have seen some pretty tense situations and there are many men who show no emotion at all.  they are deep in their thinking and in this video, we have simply lucked out that all the characters are highly emotional, extremely chatty and have extra batteries.  My wife pointed out, that if some one were able to video 10 days without power, they might be the extra dramatic segment of the population. Video recording obsessed. So I give them a break on that as well.

This is a great video for education,and if you consider it as a discussion tool, its priceless. 
Watch a short segment, stop the video and talk.  Ask questions like: What did this person do right?, what did they do wrong?  What if this happened to you tomorrow?, what do you think you would do?, where do you think you would be if this happened?, what items around you do you think you could use to solve a problem?  How could they have avoided the situation? Did they really need to put themselves in danger?  What motivated them to make that mistake?  Contrary to popular belief, there are right and wrong answers to these questions.

I give this video a big thumbs up, as others have stated.  Its better than nothing, I am actually surprised it made it to television at all and not straight to the obscurity section of Netflix.  - Brad S.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

To respond to the recent letter about the fictional Blackout show:
I too was annoyed with the way they portrayed some of the people in the story but after thinking about it I am afraid that this is how a lot of the people will act. 
The prepper is the story obviously had no idea what he was doing.  I think they portrayed an arm-chair prepper with more resources than street smarts spot on.  First of all letting his young son patrol the perimeter in the middle of the night while he is nice and cozy in bed was the big mistake that lead into the rest of his mistakes.  As far as everyone else, that's how it will be.
The stupidity of how everyone acted in the show is precisely why we prepare.  Hopefully it was an eye opener for the sheeple because really our only hope of getting through something major is having everyone at least a little prepared. - Sean M.


Mr. Rawles,  
It sometimes causes me to wonder just how two people can look at something and come away with such different views.
You posted a message from a fellow in North Carolina who had very negative things to say about "American Blackout." I could only shake my head. He said that he "turned the television off in total disgust and went to bed," calling it "insidious propaganda." Really? Really?
He called the prepper father a man who was depicted as "gun toting, autocratic bully who bossed everyone and refused to act humanely by sharing all his wealth." What I saw was a no-nonsense, mission-oriented family man whose feet were firmly planted in reality. Indeed, his attitude was vindicated by the end of the program, at least from my perspective.
While he mentions that the young fellow was happy to live off someone else's largesse (as is the case with so many liberals), the writer described him as being depicted as the "compassionate one," as if this young man was somehow portrayed in the script as the ideal character in the program. What I saw was a young man who was depicted as being naive, and as one whose misguided inclinations brought the prepper family to the brink of tragedy. The "compassionate one" seems to have somewhat redeemed himself by the end of the program, apparently having seen, to some extent, the error of his ways.
His comment that the young woman who was attacked was shown as having "deserved" what happened to her reveals more about this writer than he might want to admit. Where did he get that? Regardless, what can be said about her character is that she does represent a certain defined class in our society who, literally and figuratively, live above the nitty gritty aspects of life that so many others experience. These people are usually totally unprepared for dealing with life if everything in their world does not work perfectly. So it was here.
His comment about the fact that the movie showed that we were all going to be saved by the government as our "fearless leader gravely assured us" is evidence of paranoia or of a political curmudgeon's perspective. The fact is that our political leaders routinely assure us that everything is being done, and will be done, and that order will be re-established. The fact that they say these things does not mean that they are true, however, and the fact that the producers included Obama's assurances from other crises only added to the cinema verité aspect of the movie. Should we depend on these assurances? Of course, not. Can we expect to hear them in the next major crisis? Of course, we can.
Why he calls this movie a "PC" version of who the good guys are and who the bad guys are is nonsensical.
I totally agree with him, however, that the program offered "an excellent opportunity to impress upon the average citizen that they need to be ready for bad weather or other unforeseen circumstances."
I think that the movie did so to a large extent, and that it will serve to change at least some peoples' attitudes about the need to prepare. The young woman's plaintiff cry, "Why is no one coming to help us?" may sink in with more people. Even the liberal young man who caused the prepper family's near disaster, ultimately came with a gun to aid of the prepper dad, saying to his assailants, "You guys wanted food? You should've prepared, okay?" Maybe more people will get that message now, too.
As for my criticisms, the movie did not show nearly enough of the violence that I believe would prevail after the grid was down for a few days. The manner in which the violence might have been depicted could have been handled in a way that was not so graphic as to offend the broad audience for whom the movie was intended. I would also preferred to have seen a portrayal that depicted the situation after, say, a month, not just for the first ten days. 
The writer ends by saying, "I think I'll just stick to SurvivalBlog." At least that's some good advice I won't dispute. - Howey

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Good Morning, Mr. Rawles:

After watching part of last night's Blackout Docudrama on National Geographic. I turned the television off in total disgust and went to bed.  What insidious propaganda! 

I could not help but notice that the "prepper" father was a gun toting, autocratic bully who bossed everyone and refused to act humanely by sharing all his wealth with those less fortunate or less willing to be responsible for themselves?  How interesting.

And of course, the compassionate one was the young and hip boyfriend of the prepper's daughter.  He hadn't prepared himself but he was more than happy to live off of someone else's largess.  He was also more than happy to be judge and jury as to how someone else's preps should be treated. 

And the young woman, who was attacked and most probably raped and/or killed, "deserved" it because she was a wealthy "princess" who lived in a penthouse.  She was portrayed as stupid and totally un-connected to the real world in which most of us live.  Also interesting was the portrayal of her rich boyfriend who believed he was entitled to whatever resources were available as he tried "throwing his money around."

And of course, we were all going to be saved by the government as our fearless leader gravely assured us.  I'm amazed I got half way through the program!  Here was an excellent opportunity to impress upon the average citizen that they need to be ready for bad weather or other unforeseen circumstances.  Instead we got the "PC" version of who the good guys are and who the bad guys are.  I think I'll just stick to SurvivalBlog.

Thanks for all you do! - Getting Ready in N.C.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Introductory Note: The following is an edited transcript of my conversation with my Publicist from E.P. Dutton, Emily Brock:

1.) Expatriates is the fourth novel in your Coming Collapse series.  What inspired you to write about survivalism?  Do you believe a real-life collapse is in our near future?

I believe that global economic instability is rising substantially, so the risk of economic collapse is greater than ever before.  Along with instability comes the risk of civil wars, regional wars, and perhaps even a Third World War.  It is indeed time for people to stock up, team up, and batten down the hatches.

2.) Expatriates is different from your other novels in that it mainly takes place outside the United States, in Australia. What drew you to writing about characters away from their native country?

There are now more than 5.25 million American citizens living overseas.  I recognized that the stress that they would go through in the event of a global collapse would be tremendous.  There is nothing quite like being stranded in a foreign country. And to be simultaneously cut off from any information about the well-being of your relatives would be devastating. So I saw this as both an opportunity to avoid any trodden ground from my previous novels, and as way to to describe some times of truly deep drama.

But it is notable that one of the storylines in Expatriates takes place in Central Florida, where there is also plenty of excitement.

3.) Both survivalism and religion play a large role in Expatriates. How do you see those two aspects balancing in the novel?

I consider them complimentary.  Being well-stocked allows survivalists to dispense Christian charity.  The deeper your larder, the more generous you can be.

4.) Tell me a little bit about your writing process. How do you begin to formulate your plots and characters?

The plots of my novels are essentially extrapolations of current trends.  The characters portray people from all walks of life. By showing both prepared and unprepared individuals, it allows me to show the breadth and depth of what is really required to pull through traumatic times or starvation, infrastructure disruption, and severe shortages.

5.) Are the personalities of the characters in Expatriates modeled after survivalists and friends you know?

Many of the characters in my earlier novels were drawn directly on the personalities and backgrounds of my close friends.  But in Expatriates, I have fictionalized the lives of a few of my blog readers whom I’ve never met in person.  A few of these characters combine the personas of several people.   

6.) Some of the topics that arise in the novel, such as Islamic extremism and gun ownership, could be construed as very controversial. Was this your intention?

My intent was not to stir up angst or animus, but I have never been one to shy away from speaking out on key societal issues.  For instance, I have been very outspokenly pro-Christian, Pro-Preparedness, pro-Gun Ownership, Anti-Racist, and Anti-Slavery.  (Most Americans don’t realize that slavery is still being practiced in North Africa.)

The rise of Radical Islam is quite troubling. And if observed from a multi-generational perspective, it is genuinely frightening.

The right to keep and bear arms is the crucial cornerstone of the Bill of Rights. In effect, it is the right that insures all of our others. I believe that the current statist efforts to disarm the citizenry are not just misguided but inherently evil.  It is as if they foolishly want to make us all victims. As I’ve been quoted before: The Second Amendment is about protecting your right to go deer hunting the same way that the First Amendment is about protecting your right to publish poetry.

7.) You have mentioned in the past that you hope readers will learn as much as possible about survivalism through reading your novels. You have written non-fiction guides in the past, but do you believe that fiction is a better medium to get your message across?

We live in an age of information overload.  We are bombarded with television, radio, magazines, billboards, web pages, blogs, and text messages.  In this era, most people won’t take the time to sit down and read a survival manual.  But there is something captivating about novels.  By weaving a lot of practical and tactical tips into a fictional storyline, I can keep people’s attention. Many readers tell me that they read my novels twice: The first time through for fun, and the second time highlighting passages and taking notes. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My latest novel, Expatriates, had its scheduled release today, (October 1, 2013.)

Despite the book spine printing SNAFU, the book has been selling quite well.

Here is a summary of how the hardback has tracked:

September 22: #2,858 overall

September 25: #2,335 overall

September 27: #2,057 overall

September 28: #1,339 overall

September 30: #725 overall

October 1, @ 6:30 AM, Pacific Time: #164 overall

October 1, @ 8:30 AM, Pacific Time: #129 overall

October 1, @ 9:30 AM, Pacific Time: #52 overall (and #6 in Political Thrillers)

October 1, @ 3:00 PM, Pacific Time: #31 overall (and #3 in Political Thrillers)

October 1, @ 3:30 PM, Pacific Time: #24 overall (and #3 in Political Thrillers)

October 2, @ 5:30 AM, Pacific Time: #22 overall (and #2 in Political Thrillers)

(It was also #2 in the Kindle Store, in the "Suspense, Political" category.)

That is not a shabby ranking, considering that they now have about 4 million titles.

Thanks for waiting until today to order, folks!

- J.W.R.

October 1st is Book Bomb Day for my latest novel, Expatriates: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse. The book is available from most major bookstores. It can also be ordered from,, and many other online sellers. There are also Kindle book and audio book editions now available.

By now, I suppose that everyone has heard about the printing error at E.P. Dutton that resulted in 50,000 copies of the First Edition, First Printing of Expatriates having the hardcover spines (underneath the dust jacket) printed: "John Wesley, Rawles." The news media will undoubtedly be reporting this glitch. (I've made the spine images available at my Media Page.) This is newsworthy because it is not a common occurrence!

Because of the print error, only the first 26,000 copies of the hardback edition will go on sale today (October 1st, 2013.) A rush print order of revised books should be available and shipping within two weeks. The Kindle book and audio book editions were of course not affected, so their release is also proceeding, as scheduled.

The 26,000 copies already shipped to retailers with the printing error will probably become collector's items. (I'm assuming that the rest of the 50,000 copy First Press Run will be destroyed, or have new covers or labels applied.)

Free replacement copies will be available, if you'd prefer. (See the note from my publisher, below.) - J.W.R.

Dear Readers,
It has come to our attention that there is an error on the case material of New York Times bestselling author, James Wesley, Rawles’s, latest novel, EXPATRIATES: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse (October 1, 2013).  The author’s name is misprinted on the spine of the book.  The dust jacket is correct, as is the About the Author page on both the jacket and in the book. We have issued a rush reprint, though approximately half of our first printing has already been distributed to retailers. If you wish to receive a replacement copy from the second printing, please send in the first edition to us at the address below and we will send you a new copy right away. We are very sorry for the inconvenience and hope this doesn’t detract from your enjoyment of James Wesley, Rawles’ latest thrilling and action-packed survivalist tale.

To receive a replacement copy of Expatriates, please send the faulty book with your return address to:

Attn: Dutton Editorial
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014

Monday, September 30, 2013

You might as well call me "James Wesley, Wrong", since a printing error at E.P. Dutton resulted in several thousand copies of the First Edition, First Printing of Expatriates having the hardcover spines (underneath the dust jacket) emblazoned: "John Wesley, Rawles."

Here is how the correct dust jacket spine looks:

Expatriates Dustjacket

And here is how the misprinted hardback spine (underneath the dust jacket) looks:

Expatriates Print Error Spine

This error wasn't discovered until Friday night (September 27th), when our family friend "Enola Gay" (the editor of the outstanding Paratus Familia blog) happened to look under the dust jacket of the copy that I'd given her.

The hardback edition will probably not be released as scheduled tomorrow (October 1st) because of the printing error. (The Kindle book and audio book editions were of course not affected and will be released as scheduled.)

A bit of background, and some related examples:

Over the years, I've received dozens of "John"-addressed e-mails, and I've seen many Internet references to my writings that mention "John Wesley Rawles." This can be attributed to a subconscious connection to the famous Christian evangelist and hymn writer, John Wesley. So I find it perfectly understandable that this mistake was made. (I don't suspect any foul play by Red Lectroids from Planet 10.) The staff at E.P. Dutton sent me the full dust jacket layout for approval, but I never saw the hard copy spine markings. I suppose this is the first time that a major publisher has made this sort of mistake. I certainly don't want to see anyone lose their job over this.

This slip-up is reminiscent of the notorious destroyed Jonathan Franzen Freedom novels, in 2010. And in a way, this incident reminds me of a print error on the packaging of 100,000 Atlas Shrugged Part 1 DVDs, which had the back emblazoned: "Ayn Rand's timeless novel of courage and self-sacrifice comes to life..." This of course was 180 degrees out of sync with Ayn Rand's philosophy, that focused on rational self-interest and rejected the concept of self-sacrifice. Those DVDs were recalled (at great expense), and the few that slipped out to the market are now collectible. This also brings to mind the famous US Postal Service's recall of the 1994 Legends of the West postage stamp sheets, because they had an inaccurate depiction of the face of Bill Pickett. (To me, it looked like they slipped in a simulacrum of Billy Dee Williams!)

This printing error may not be quite as famous as the 1631 Bible typesetting error that inadvertently had Exodus 20:14 read: "Thou shalt commit adultery," or the upside-down "Jenny" airplane print error postage stamp. But it certainly did give me a chuckle. And I suppose that it might make the 48 advance copies that I received worth more, in the long run. (However, I don't expect a full blown Willy Wonka Bar golden ticket hunt, as book buyers look under the dust jackets to see if they've found an example with the spine printing error.)

Only one thing is certain: Book collectors will definitely be able to easily distinguish the print error "First Edition, First Printing" of Expatriates!

The hardback edition will only have a limited release tomorrow (October 1st, 2013) because of this printing error. A rush print order of revised books should be available within two weeks. The Kindle book and audio book editions were of course not affected, so their release will go on, as scheduled. I have not yet heard from the publisher whether they plan to destroy the misprinted books that they still have on hand, or re-cover them, or add an adhesive label to the spine with my correct given name.

I will post updates about how this will be rectified. Thanks for your patience.

Special Note to Brad Thor: Double check your next novel, to make sure that they don't print "Brad Pitt" on the spine. - J.W.R.

Monday, September 2, 2013


The following is another sample chapter from my upcoming novel Expatriates: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse. Please wait until the release day (October 1st, 2013) to place your order.

Introductory Notes: My upcoming novel opens with a prominent disclaimer that includes: "This is a work of fiction.  All of the events described are imaginary, taking place in the future, and do not represent the world as we know it in the present day. It does not reflect the current geopolitical situation, governmental policies, or the strategic posture of any nation. It is not intended to be commentary on the policies, leadership, goals, strategies, or plans of any nation. This novel is not intended to be predictive of the territorial aspirations tactics of any nation or any planned use of terrorist tactics. Again, it takes place in the future, under fictional new leadership. Any resemblance to living people is purely coincidental.

This chapter describes a nighttime encounter between an essentially radar-transparent wooden outrigger Philippine fishing boat (the Tiburon) and an Indonesian fast patrol boat (the Sadarin.)

Chapter 20: E&E

“When it all comes down, the last man standing is going to be standing there in shorts and sneakers [armed] with a ’98 Mauser, and all the ninja-looking guys belly up at his feet - with all their cool gear.” – Louis Awerbuck

On Board Tiburon, The Banda Sea – Late October, The Second Year

The seas were calm and the night was almost pitch dark.  It was overcast, the quarter moon had not yet risen, and the Jeffords could barely distinguish the horizon. They motored on, regularly checking the compass and the GPS.

Tatang sat dozing in the side chair while Peter held the wheel. As he gazed ahead, Peter saw the flare of a cigarette lighter about 400 or 500 yards ahead—someone lighting a cigarette on the deck of a boat of some sort.  Jeffords hesitated for a moment, and then cut the throttle to bring Tiburon to slow maneuvering speed.  He swung the wheel sharply.  The motion roused Tatang. Peter ducked his head toward the old man’s ear and whispered, “Quiet.”  He could hear excited voices in the distance.

A pair of big diesel engines rumbled to life. Just as Peter completed their turn about and the Tiburon’s stern was pointed toward the strange boat a searchlight snapped on and began scanning.  Peter slammed the throttle forward and he said, “Take the wheel!”

Peter stepped away from the helm and snatched up Navarro’s M1 rifle.  Tatang took the wheel and shoved hard on the throttle, but he found that it was already wide open.  The searchlight found them, blindingly bright. Peter’s eyes had been accustomed to the darkness and this change overwhelmed his senses. There were more shouts from the other boat. It was now 500 yards away and had started to turn towards them.  Peter judged that it was a 50-footer, and it had the profile of some sort of pilothouse patrol boat, with pedestal-mounted machineguns, fore and aft. Before it completed its turn, he could make out the boat’s hull number: 855.Tatang muttered, “We’re in a tight spot, aren’t we, Mister J.?”

Across the dark sea, Kapten Assegaf switched on Sadarin’s hailer, emitting a high warble.  Then he keyed his microphone and issued a warning to stop, in Indonesian. He repeated the command in Dutch, and then English: “Hou’ vast! You are ordered to stop, or we will be shooting.” The young, impetuous captain was grinning. He knew that the outrigger boat was no match for his boat, with its pair of MTU diesels. Despite a few patches to its hull that gave her more drag than in her early days, Sadarin was still a very fast patrol boat.

The patrol boat was quickly gaining on Tiburon. Peter crouched behind the stern rail, put the rifle to his right shoulder and clicked its safety bar forward with the front of his trigger finger.  He said aloud,  “Help me get out of this, Lord.”  Then he took aim at the searchlight. The glare was intense.

He fired three times in rapid succession.  The third shot hit the searchlight, extinguishing it.  Tatang then immediately jerked the wheel, turning Tiburon sharply to starboard.  The .50 caliber M2 Browning on the forward deck of the patrol boat sputtered to life, firing blindly in reply, in a deep staccato.

To Peter’s dismay, moments later a second searchlight snapped on and began to scan.  “Kasimanwa ko,” Tatang muttered, which Jeffords recognized as a Tagalog reference to excrement.

Peter fired two shots at the searchlightThe second one hit the mark, again casting them into darkness.  Immediately after, Tatang wisely swung the wheel again, this time hard to port. The .50 caliber fired again blindly. The muzzle flashes were all they could see.   The first few rounds passed over their heads. Every fifth round was a tracer.  The arc of the tracers increased farther and farther to starboard.   Tatang changed course once more, quartering away from Sadarin.  Between bursts from the machinegun, they could hear excited shouts from the Indonesian crewmen.  Two Indo sailors with Pindad SS2 5.56mm assault rifles joined in, blindly firing in long fully automatic bursts. But like the big Browning, all of their bursts were fired high and wide--nearly all toward their previous heading.

After a minute, they were about 1,000 yards away from the patrol boat.  Peter realized that his rifle was more than half empty, so he fumbled for a minute to unload it and reload it with a full 8-round clip from his pocket.  The Garand, he knew, had the limitation of an “all or nothing” ejecting cartridge clip—there was no way to top off the rifle without changing the clip completely.  He wanted to be ready with a full 8-round clip in case he had to fire again.

Captain Assegaf used his bullhorn again, this time ordering his own crew, “Diam, diam!”  The shooting stopped.  Realizing what was happening, Peter whispered urgently, “Stop, stop! Preno!”

Tatang chopped the throttle and then turned off the engine completely. Moments later, the Indonesian captain shut his engines down, too. It was eerily quiet and still quite dark.  Below deck, two of the Indonesian Air Force radar technicians were wailing and crying, convinced that they were about to die for failing to do their job. 
Hoping to hear the engine of Tiburon, the Indonesians were listening intently. It was so quiet that Jeffords could hear the sound of squeaking footsteps on the deck of the patrol boat.  There was an anxious, questioning voice from below deck and then another shout of “Diam!” from Captain Assegaf, this time without the benefit of the bullhorn.

Peter crept toward the helm chair.  The storm door slowly slid open. Rhiannon’s head popped out.  Peter reached across the door and clamped his hand across her mouth.  He leaned forward and whispered into her ear: “An Indo patrol boat.  I shot out their lights, so now it’s cat and mouse. Keep Sarah and Joseph super quiet.”
Rhiannon gave an exaggerated nod and quietly descended back into the cabin, sliding shut the storm door as gently as possible.

The unnerving quiet continued for two minutes.  Sadarin’s signals officer approached Captain Assegaf to report that there was no radar contact.  Worse yet, the ship’s sonar could only be used as a depth finder. It was not designed to locate other vessels. Assegaf began cursing loudly.  He ordered hand flashlights and a flare gun be brought up from below, but there was some difficulty in finding the waterproof box that held the flare gun and flares.  Instead of its usual location, it was inadvertently hidden under a pile of life vests. This led to even more consternation and shouting.

By the time that they started scanning with the hand flashlights, the two boats had drifted apart and were separated by 1,250 yards. Because the Indonesians’ flashlights lacked sufficient range, the sailors had no luck spotting Tiburon. Captain Assegaf let loose a long string of profanity and slapped his signals officer on the side of his head.  Frustrated, he impetuously fired up the boat’s diesels. He hesitated for a moment, and then took a guess at Tiburon’s last heading, but he guessed wrong.  He turned Sadarin 30 degrees to starboard as he advanced his throttles to 3/4th, pushing the boat up to 25 knots. 

Peter inched up to Tatang and asked in a half-whisper, “Now that they’re started their engines, won’t that mask the sound if we start ours?”

The old man thought for a moment and then answered, “Yeah, but they could stop any time and listen again, and then they’d hear where we are. We’d really be in the kamalasan. Right now, they don't know if we are pirates, smugglers, or refugees. And even refugees are probably all 'shoot on sight.' We are safer just drifting for now, Mister J. It is still six hours to the daylight, and the clouds will stop most of the moonlight.  The moon rise won’t be for about two hours. Just pray hard that they get far enough away that they can’t hear our engine."

Jeffords did pray, fervently.

The Indonesian patrol boat was more than a mile away when they began launching parachute flares.  But at that distance, they didn’t throw enough light to reveal Tiburon’s position. 

Even worse than the misplaced flare gun kit was the fact that up until fifteen days before, Sadarin had been equipped with a pair of Fulinon Gen 3 light amplification night vision goggles (NVGs).  But the navy had requisitioned the NVGs from every ship less than 25 meters in length for an unspecified “priority tasking.” Assegaf assumed that this meant the Philippines campaign.  He was furious.  If he had the NVGs or at least if he had the flare gun close at hand, then the intruder would not have been able to slip away. 

Rhiannon and Joseph came up on deck.  “Sarah is asleep,” Rhiannon reported in a whisper.

Peter had the binoculars out, trying to gauge the distance between Tiburon and Sadarin. He started to chuckle and said,  “I told you that you have a stealthy boat, Tatang.”

Tatang put on a huge grin that Peter could see even in the very dim light. “Yes, she’s a stealthy old shark, and she just put those Indo bastards on a whatcha-call wild geese chase.”

The two men shared a laugh.

After another half hour, when the Indonesian flares could barely be seen six miles away, Tatang restarted Tiburon’s engine. He turned the bow to the southeast, quartering away from the Indonesian boat.  Speaking at a normal level for the first time since the incident began, Tatang said, “Now, we gotta put a lot a miles between them and us before the daylight. They’ll try to get a patrol plane up to look for us, sure as anything.”  He pushed the throttle forward all the way to its stop and added, “Go, baby, go.”

Joseph said, “Do you know how lucky we are?”

Rhiannon shook her head and said, “Poor choice of words, Joey.  The word isn’t lucky, it is blessed.”

As dawn broke, after a fruitless night of searching, Assegaf had a long talk with his first mate, an old NCO who had seventeen years of service with the navy. They discussed how they would write their report of the incident with the “unidentified fishing boat.”  They agreed that it would be counterproductive to complain about the lack of NVGs and that the misplaced flare gun kit should be blamed on a junior grade sailor and a reprimand issued before they returned to port.

Assegaf’s next conversation was with the senior Air Force radar technician to determine why the radar couldn’t detect the fishing boat.  After a brief lecture on radar fundamentals, the NCO explained that the ship’s radar had a feature called “near field clutter rejection.” Thus, the radar did not display any target less than two kilometers away if was moving at less than twenty kilometers per hour and if it had a radar cross section smaller than that of a small boat or passenger car.

Kapten Assegaf fumed about the fishing boat getting away. More than just the disappointment, it was writing the After Action Report that troubled him.  Given the recent political shifts within the TNI-AL, his report would have to be very carefully worded.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The third sequel to Patriots, titled Expatriates: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse, will be released on October 1st. Meanwhile, I'm already writing the fourth sequel to my novel Patriots, which will be titled Liberators. This novel will be set primarily set near Bella Coola, British Columbia, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord(JBLM) , Washington, and in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Anyone who has recently lived in those regions is invited to chime in. I'd really like to add some local color--including local history, flora and fauna, and geographical quirks.

Liberators will also have a strong emphasis on guerilla and counter-guerilla warfare, so I encourage folks with real-world warfighting experience in such conflicts to e-mail me. Please recommend every tactic, technique and trick that you can recall. It will be those tips that will give the novel great realism and that will make it useful as a training reference as well as exciting to read. That will be greatly appreciated! - J.W.R.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Introductory Note: My upcoming novel opens with a prominent disclaimer that includes: "This is a work of fiction.  All of the events described are imaginary, taking place in the future, and do not represent the world as we know it in the present day. It does not reflect the current geopolitical situation, governmental policies, or the strategic posture of any nation. It is not intended to be commentary on the policies, leadership, goals, strategies, or plans of any nation. This novel is not intended to be predictive of the territorial aspirations tactics of any nation or any planned use of terrorist tactics. Again, it takes place in the future, under fictional new leadership. Any resemblance to living people is purely coincidental."

Chapter 11: The Missing Umbrella

“All politicians will allow, and most philosophers, that reasons of state may, in particular emergencies, dispense with the rules of justice, and invalidate any treaty or alliance, where the strict observance of it would be prejudicial, in a considerable degree, to either of the contracting parties. But nothing less than the most extreme necessity, it is confessed, can justify individuals in a breach of promise, or an invasion of the properties of others." - David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, 1777

Surabaya, Indonesia, August, The Second Year

Soekirnan Assegaf was excited to get his first command, even if it was one of the smallest ships in the Indonesian Navy. His most recent assignment had been as a weapons officer aboard the large patrol boat KRI Tenggiri. (The ship had formerly been called the Ardent when it was in service with the Royal Australian Navy.) Much of that time had been spent cruising the Strait of Malacca. It had only been three months since Assegaf had been advanced in rank from Letnan Satu (First Lieutenant) to Kapten (Captain). Unlike most of his contemporaries who were receiving logistics and staff officer assignments, he was getting his own ship.

The bad news for Assegaf was that his new home port would be at Manado on Sulawesi island. This port was considered the gateway to the Celebes Sea. It was 675 miles from Surabaya and more than 1,000 miles from his family’s home in Jakarta. He would only have one or two leaves each year, and undoubtedly his transport to Jakarta would be on slow and noisy C-235 or C-295 combination cargo and passenger logistics flights, with several island-hopping stops along the way.

Assegaf’s new assignment was to command KRI Sadarin. Depending on the perspective of who saw it, Sadarin could either be described as a large boat or a small ship. It was fifty-one feet long and displaced twenty-three tons when fully fueled. It was in the Hawker-De Havilland Carpenteria class, powered by a pair of MTU diesels. These engines produced 1,360 horsepower and gave Sadarin a top speed of twenty-nine knots. The boat had been built in 1977, but since then it had been re-engined twice—most recently in 2010.

With its standard fuel tanks, Sadarin had a range of 950 miles at eighteen knots. A typical patrol was five days, but the frequent picket duty patrols were an agonizing fourteen days. Living for such a long stretch of time in cramped quarters and subsisting on plain, uninteresting rations often led to short tempers. Stowing extra fuel (in 45-liter bladders strapped down in spare berths), extra water (in crates on deck) and extra provisions (in every available space) made the small ship seem even smaller.

The crew of Sadarin was normally ten, but for picket duty the crew had just eight men, and three of them weren’t even sailors. They were otaks (“brains”) that had been detailed from Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Udara--the Indonesian Air Force. These three men had no other duty than to stare at air-surface radar screens around the clock.

Assegaf loved the power and agility of his boat. He became famous for shouting in English the command, “Ludicrous Speed!”— quoting from one of his favorite American comedy films. Seldom content with cruising Sadarin at the nominal fuel-conserving sixteen knots, he often came back into port dangerously low on fuel. Behind his back, Assegaf’s men called him either Speed Racer or Kapten Ludicrous.
In 2002, Indonesia had been forced to cede the islands of Ligitan and Sipadan (near eastern Borneo) to Malaysia by order of the International Court of Justice. This made the entire Indonesian military machine obsessed with defending their territory and exclusive waters. In particular, the Indonesian Navy had closely watched the oil-producing Ambalat region of the Celebes Sea since 2002. The frequent patrols of Sadarin were just one small part of that increased vigilance.

Even before he was given command of Sadarin, Soekirnan Assegaf had earned a reputation for being impulsive and stern in handing out reprimands to subordinates. But he was also fairly sensitive to the needs of his men while on long patrols. Unlike most other skippers of patrol boats, he encouraged his men to fish once they were well away from the port of Manado. The fresh fish supplemented their usual diet of yams, breadfruit, rice, sago, kangkung (water spinach), dried fish, krupuk crackers, canned chicken, and canned mutton.

Assegaf also allowed movies and music to be played on board, often piping songs from MP3 players directly into the ship’s speakerphone system. Both when he was a naval cadet and later in his career, he spent an inordinate portion of his pay on movies for his collection. Many of these were pirated copies that he bought on the back streets of Surabaya for only 20,000 Rupiah apiece or about two dollars each. Some of the more recently released films were muddy duplicates that had actually been surreptitiously videotaped inside Jakarta movie theaters, so occasionally they’d see the silhouette of a head popping up at the bottom of the screen, or the conversation of obnoxious movie patrons would be mixed in with the movie’s dialogue. On board Sadarin, almost every night at sea was movie night, and there was seldom a repeat. The exception was usually Maria Ozawa movies.

Assegaf’s penchant for American movies did not go unnoticed by his superiors. Without his knowledge, he was placed on a watch list by Indonesian Naval Intelligence. His personnel file was flagged by one of the more devout Muslims on the counterintelligence staff at his base headquarters. Even though Assegaf was loyal to the Jakarta government, some of his personal habits were flagged as “suspicious.” Members of his crew were questioned at intervals about his behavior, his religious practices, his preferences in entertainment, any foreign contacts, and whether or not he had made any comments about the Jakarta government, or about Indonesia’s role in the expansion campaign in the Philippines.

There was an unspoken division and preference within the Indonesian military that viewed “seculars” with suspicion, and gave promotion and assignment preference to devout Muslims. In the last few years before the global Crunch period began, rapid promotion blatantly went to those who were outwardly devout carpet-bowers. Indonesia’s secular constitution was sharply eroded, most noticeably starting in 2003 when Sharia law was recognized in Aceh province. This process started to spread in the early 2010s, and by the time of the Crunch, it went into high gear. The increasingly muzzled Indonesian press at first called this Aechinization, but later more discreetly called it “moderation of morals” or “return to devout values.”

Aechinization flew in the face of the nation’s tradition of Pancasila state ideology, which had asserted that Indonesia would recognize multiple religions but be secularly governed. Most recently, under legislation spearheaded by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Justice Welfare Party (PKS), kissing in public had been banned, as well as "lascivious clothing". To some clerics, the new dress code was interpreted as head-to-toe coverage for women, even in Indonesia’s sweltering climate. All of these steps were heralded as “defense against western decadence.”

The PKS, which was directly patterned after the Muslim Brotherhood, began to assert more and more control over all the branches of the Indonesian military. Non-Muslims were increasingly marginalized and sometimes targeted for malicious rumors, “morals investigations,” and negative efficiency reports.

Indonesia’s population of 225 million included 197 million Muslims. Kapten Assegaf was one of the many that were “Muslim in name only.” In the eyes of the new Aechinated Navy, his stance was not career enhancing. In the new Indonesia, the radical imams had slowly been putting a theocracy in place for more than a decade. Most of Assegaf’s contemporaries saw it as inevitable. Some of the more radicalized ones that were PKS members actually embraced the change. The dissenting “decadent” minority started derisively calling the fundamentalists The Jerks of Java.

In the early 2000s, the Laskar Jihad, led by Ja’far Umar Thalib was in the media spotlight. These jihadis were directly influenced by modern Saudi Wahhabism. After a couple of years, Laskar Jihad appeared to die out. In actuality, it went underground, burrowing into many government ministries in Indonesia and Malaysia. The jihadis eventually gained control of every branch of government, including the armed forces. The culmination came with the seating of the new President, just before the Crunch. His green lapel pin told the world that the radical Islamists controlled every apparatus of the government, from top to bottom.
The Reformasi (Reformation) era had ended and the “Sarip” era—the era of the theocrats--had begun. They had completed their silent coup with little more than whispers of dissent in the heavily state-controlled press.

The Crunch was the final blow for the Indonesian moderates. The radical fundamentalists that dominated under the new President pointed to the economic collapse as an “ah-ha” moment and proof that “western decadence” and non-Islamic banking practices had been what precipitated the collapse. This cemented their power and marked a radical shift in their foreign policy. From then on, open jihad became their byword.
Indonesia and Malaysia had experienced a simmering conflict since the end of hostilities in 1966. But as time went on, the tensions lessened, and they became regular trading partners. As The Crunch set in, this bi-lateral trade grew increasingly more important, as global trade collapsed.

Several things worked synergistically to unite Indonesia and Malaysia: The new presidents of both countries were distant cousins and both were strident Wahhabists. Just before the Crunch, Indonesia had assisted Malaysia in both earthquake relief and in setting up desalinization plants during a drought. Then came the “fairytale romance” between the son of the Indonesian president and the daughter of the Malaysian president which culminated in a marriage that was played up intensely by the mass media in both countries, much like British Royal weddings. Ironically, the conservative clerics, who had ordered the removal of the mushy soap operas from Indonesian television left a vacuum that was partly filled by media coverage of the romance and marriage.

As Caleb Burroughs heard all this on the BBC broadcasts, he thought about how his mates over in Afghanistan would go on high alert when the word “wedding” was listed in the Intel Officer’s portion of the Commander’s brief. “Wedding” was almost always was a code word for a jihadi attack. It seemed a cruel irony to have it actually touted as such in the media. “Life imitates art,” he thought to himself.
Shortly after the much-publicized wedding, a variation on the Austrian anchsluss occurred in Malaysia wherein it quickly became a puppet state of Indonesia. The state-controlled mass media in both countries tried to put a positive spin on the takeover, calling it “the perkawinan” (marriage) of the two countries.

The kingdom of Brunei also made special concessions that effectively put Indonesian theocrats in control of the country. Remarkably, these changes in Malaysia and Brunei all took place without a shot being fired. These anschslusse were the ideal outcome for Indonesia because they needed all of their available military power for their planned invasion of The Philippines, Papua New Guinea, and Australia. They could not have spared the manpower that otherwise would have been needed to occupy Malaysia and Brunei.

The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) soon transferred most of their large ships to the Indonesian Navy at nominal cost. These included their recently launched guided missile destroyer (KD Sabah), two frigates, two corvettes, three nearly-new landing craft, sixteen Ligan-class new generation fast attack craft, two 37-meter Fast Troop Vessels (FTV), as well as the majority of their replenishment ships and military transport ships.

Meanwhile, the Sultan of Brunei “gifted” Indonesia his navy’s four 41-meter Ijhtihad-class fast patrol boats and all three of his 80-meter Darausalam class multi-purpose patrol vessels, complete with missiles and helicopters. All of these Bruneian ships were only a few years old and had been built to be state of the art. With all this talk of jihad, the Sultan felt obliged to donate the ships. To do anything less might have triggered a fundamentalist uprising in Brunei.

Ironically, the Indonesian government which under previous leadership had spoken out so forcefully against the Jamaal Islamiyah militants and the Bali bombing would less than two decades later be espousing many of the same fundamentalist Islamic goals, and building their own time bombs.

o o o

A few years before the Crunch, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard urged schoolchildren to prepare for “The Asian Century” by learning Asian languages. Little did she know that Bahasa Indonesia would become the most important language to learn because Indonesian culture would soon be forcefully injected into Australian life.

It was no great surprise when China invaded Taiwan. They’d been itching to do so for decades. But Indonesia’s next moves had not been fully anticipated by Australia’s strategic analysts. What the analysts overlooked was the full significance of the loss of American military power in the Pacific region. Without the American presence, many nations in East Asia felt emboldened.

Australia signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1970 and ratified it in 1973. But even before then, they were dependent on America’s military might to assure peace in the Pacific region. Now the Americans were gone. All around the eastern periphery of Asia, alliances were shifting. The posturing and saber-rattling began. Borders were stretched. Old territorial disputes re-emerged. Ethnic minorities were sent packing. Darkness was falling on the Pacific.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Is everyone geared up for Christmas shopping? On the first day of Christmas my five children receive presents from their parents, grandparents, and friends and by the twelfth day of Christmas....well, the presents begin earning the label of junk, lying in the basement or being “played with” by the dog and chickens in the backyard. Every year I declare I will not buy anymore useless, plastic toys - and this year I mean it!

Lest I sound too much like the Grinch, rest assured that I love giving the kids presents. I love thinking about just the right gift for each child, wrapping the presents and hiding them from curious eyes; there’s the fun of sneaking them out to the bottom of the tree after they have gone to bed and of seeing them open them with delight. So what to do?

I have decided this year to focus our gifts on preps for the kids. I don’t think this is necessarily a ho-hum thing; most kids enjoy aspects of prepping much more than we adults who do it with a slight (or large) sense of anxiety. Kids genuinely enjoy learning new skills and “playing pioneer”.

So here are some tips on shopping for “kiddie preppers”:

1. Seed kit and gardening tools

Children have a natural fascination for watching plants sprout and gathering the harvest. A seed kit with some gardening tools can be as simple as a few packs of easy-to-grow seeds such as beans, squash, sunflowers, and pumpkins or you may want to purchase a family starter kit such as the one offered at Saint Claire’s Heirloom seeds. Horizon Herbs offers a Kidzherb kit of useful medicinal and culinary herb seeds such as basil, calendula, and lemon balm that also includes a story book with kid-friendly information, herbal fairy tales and songs, and instructions for making products such as salves and slippery elm cough drops. Books like Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots by Sharon Lovejoy offer whimsical, yet useful projects, such as “pizza gardens” and gourd tee pees. Consider purchasing kid-size garden tools like gloves, shovels, hoes, and watering cans.

2. Sleeping bags and bedding

No, I’m not talking about those flimsy sleeping bags with a cartoon princess on them; I’m talking about the real deal. Now this might not be exciting unless you promise the kids that they’ll use them on a camping trip. Another idea is a new comforter or quilt. I never seem to have enough blankets as they are often serving as forts and the kids tend to fight over the favorite ones. This way, everyone will have their own special quilt and the bedding will serve your family well should you experience a power outage or need to turn the heat down (or off) to save energy and money.

3. Bug out bag - kiddie style

First things first, get some durable backpacks. What you put in them will, of course, depend upon the age of the child, but the great thing about this gift is that you’re not only providing a gift and teaching them about being prepared, you’re also knocking out an item on your prepping to-do list. Some ideas for kid bug out bags are: flashlight, a magnesium fire starter, compass, important numbers and info on a laminated card, a deck of playing cards, nonperishable snacks like jerky and candy, small mylar blanket, small bottles of children’s pain relief and cold medicine, chapstick, wipes, straw water filter, a tin mug, and a pocketknife.

4. Non-electric games

Imagine, games without noises and glassy-eyed kids. Consider buying a durable chess set and a checkers set. Purchase Hoyle’s Rules of Games and some nice playing cards. Nowadays, decks come in quite a variety, from art masterpieces to tree identification, so you have entertainment as well as sneaking some education in. Other classics to consider are Scrabble, Sorry, and Clue. For the younger crowd, there are concentration games like Memory, Connect Four, and alphabet or number games. I would suggest something like Candyland but you might be stressed enough and yet another round through the Peppermint Forest might have you banging your head on the wall.

5. Survival fiction books

Fiction books are a great way to introduce morals and valuable skills without seeming to lecture. In books such as My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George, Sam not only learns survival skills such as making fishing hooks, building a shelter in a hollow tree, and making clothing from deer hide, he also learns lessons about courage, independence, and making peace with solitude. Likewise, Brian in Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet series learns how to gather edible plants and build a raft from driftwood, but he also learns about self-discipline and perseverance. Other titles include the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, and Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare.

6. Knot games

One of the most useful skills to learn, and one of the easier ones for nimble, little fingers, is knot tying. Companies such as Ramco produce a game wherein the players match the knots on the cards, with each card being worth a certain number of points based on difficulty and Think Fun Knot So Fast has players trying to tie the knots the quickest. There are also numerous how-to books available.

7. Books on wild edibles, traps, and nature skills

Help your children begin to develop a prepping library of their own. A great start is Tom Brown’s Field Guide: Nature and Survival for Children. What I like about this book is that it includes the more usual information - shelter building, wild edibles, first aid - but it also covers nature awareness and “lostproofing”. For example, it includes exercises for training kids in better orientation in nature. Other books to consider are wild food books like Linda Runyon’s or Euell Gibbons’s (for sheer enthusiasm), first aid books, Boy Scout books (usually available for cheap at thrift stores), and books about Native Americans (such reading inspired the likes of Eustace Conway - “the last American man”).

8. Tools

As mentioned above, child sized tools can encourage an early love for gardening. Likewise, consider giving your child useful tools such as basic woodworking and handy tools. When my son got into Survivor Man, we purchased a multitool and, as he got older, he saved up his money to buy a Gerber survival knife and a hatchet. These have provided great lessons in knife safety and tool care. Along these lines, consider buying basic, but high quality, cooking ware and utensils. Tools such as these not only provide a back-up set for your family while your child is young, they will serve as a good “start up” for your child when he moves out on his own.

9. Beginner’s arms

After the popularity of The Hunger Games, it wouldn’t be hard to talk your teen into learning some bow skills. Decent quality bows can be found online or even consider making a self bow. Consider introducing your kids to BB guns as practice for target shooting and for use of larger firearms in later years. Early introduction to bows and rifles help kids better understand the uses and safety rules of such items. In addition, consider purchasing sling-shots or the material for putting together traps and snares.

10. Gift cards

No, not gift cards to the big box stores or for more electronics. I’m talking about cards or passes that give your child an experience, hopefully with a survival slant. For instance, consider buying passes to the national parks and camping grounds. Or lessons in basic knitting, cooking, quilting, or pottery. My town has a rock climbing gym and lessons would encourage physical activity while teaching the kids courage, problem-solving, and determination. Even buying some music lessons would provide the kids with the opportunity to learn an entertainment skill that doesn’t require electricity (think of Pa Ingalls with his fiddle).

11. Craft kits

There are kits galore to help kids of all ages (and their parents!) get started with a useful skill. A quick check online will offer up kits for beginning sewing, quilting, knitting, woodworking, and leather working.

12. Livestock

For the really ambitious, another gift option is a “start up kit” for livestock. Ready made coops and chicks can be purchased via Craigslist (or online if you really want to pay a lot). Better yet, select a kid-friendly book on chicken raising, gather the necessary materials for building a coop, and purchase necessary equipment like waterers and feeders. In this way, you can spend the winter months building the coop and preparing for chicks in the spring. Other options to consider are worms, bees, or rabbits. While I don’t have experience with the last two, I can attest that worm “farms” for composting definitely have a degree of grossness that attracts little kids!

So here’s the challenge this year. Instead of plunking down that hard-earned money to buy some junk made in a country with dubious government policies only to have that junk clutter up your house later on, consider replacing at least some of those purchases with gifts that will truly benefit your family. Help your kids add to their own preps as well as their prepper skill set.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

This is for those who have asked for more details on the release of my latest novel "Founders", particularly about the audio book and ebook:

The audio book edition of "Founders" was narrated by Phil Gigante. He is a former Shakespearean actor and an Audie award-winner with a great voice.

The cover artwork for Founders was done by Tony Mauro Jr., who is best known for his movie posters. He did a fantastic job of capturing the atmosphere of Ken & Terry Layton's trek.


Sources for "Founders" - Hardback, eBook and Audio Book Formats

eBook Sellers:
Kindle (Amazon)
iBook (iPods and iPhones)
Sony Reader Store (ePub)

Audio Book Sellers:

iTunes Store (Germany) (UK)


Monday, April 9, 2012

I am now writing the first draft my follow-on novel in the "Patriots-Survivors-Founders" series, under the working title "Expatriates." Tentatively, this novel will be set primarily in three locales:

A.) Darwin, Australia,

B.) Tavares, Florida, and

C.) Borongan, Samar Island, Philippines.

There will also be some mention of Bella Coola, British Columbia. If any SurvivalBlog readers have lived in or near any of those locales , I'd appreciate your input, via e-mail. I'd also appreciate hearing from anyone with experience and seismic oilfield exploration.

OBTW, my novel "Founders" should be released in October 2012, in hardback, as an audiobook, and as a Kindle e-book.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

This is the release day for my novel "Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse". (October 4th, 2011.) Thank you for waiting to order your copies until today. Keep an eye on the book's Amazon Sales Rank, as the day progresses. This should be fun!

Survivors Cover

Here is some information on the novel, without any spoilers: Much of the novel is set in the Four Corners Region of the American Southwest. "Survivors" is unusual for a novel sequel. Unlike most sequels, instead of extending the "Patriots" saga further into the future, it is contemporaneous with the action in the first book. But it is set in different locales, with mostly different characters, with vastly different levels of preparedness. The novel begins from the perspective of a U.S. Army officer deployed in Afghanistan, just as "The Crunch" unfolds.

Unlike the protagonists in "Patriots", most of the characters in "Survivors" don't have a deep larder, so they are forced to scramble and improvise. There are just a few crossover characters between the two novels, such as Ian and Blanca Doyle (whom you will remember from "Patriots" as the husband and wife Laron Light Experimental airplane owners living near Luke Air Force Base.)

The cover art for the book was masterfully rendered by mixed-media artist Tony Mauro, Jr. of New York. He took my vague one-minute verbal description of what I had in mind for the art, and he nailed it. I am very happy with his design and his choice of color palette. It really captures the essence of the novel. (The lead character, Andy Laine, is depicted on horseback in Texas, in the midst of The Crunch. You'll see how closely Tony matched the storyline when you read the novel.

"Survivors" is being published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. This first released is in hardback. It retails for $24, but Amazon sells it at the deeply discounted price of $14.40.) It will be followed sometime in 2012 by a trade paperback. (The latter is the same binding format that was used with "Patriots".)

The publisher tells me that the first print run of hardbacks was 35,000 copies. This big initial printing was in part based upon Amazon's strong pre-order of 15,000 copies. I'd prefer that readers in the U.S., Canada, and the UK order through Amazon. (If your order is at least $25, you can qualify for Amazon's free "Super Saver" shipping. See our Catalog Page for ideas on other items that you might want to order, to bring your total over $25.)

I should also mention that Kindle, Nook, and iBook e-books as well as the audio book are also now orderable. The award-winning Dick Hill narrated the audio book. (He also narrated "Patriots".)

Where to Buy Your Copies of "Survivors"

Hardcover Book Sellers:
Barnes & Noble
Indie Bound
Boomerang (Australia) (Germany)
Whitcoul's (New Zealand) (UK)

eBook Sellers:
Kindle (
iBook (iPods and iPhones)

Audio Book Sellers:
Boomerang (Australia) (Germany)
Whitcoul's (New Zealand) (UK)

The hardback will also soon be available to U.S. armed forces servicemembers, through the All Services Exchange Catalog.

If you've already read it, succinct, positive reviews at the Amazon and Barnes & Noble web sites are greatly appreciated. For example, here is one that was just posted:

"I was fortunate enough to get an advance copy of Survivors and truly enjoyed reading it. If you liked Patriots you will love Survivors! While Patriots was about 50% technical manual and 50% novel, Survivors is much more a story but still has enough "technical" in it to keep a true Rawles fan happy. Survivors is a wide-ranging book that takes place with different groups in many locations who are much less prepared than the groups in Patriots. That makes it very interesting, coupled with the fact that Rawles dosen't mind killing off a character you like once in a while to keep you guessing. I especially like the "Kentucky Seed Lady", Sheila Randall, who shows that you just don't lay down and take it when things go bad but get to work instead. Also, who wouldn't like Andy Laine and his story of sacrifice and scrappiness to get home from Afganiston when things go bad. The world and timeline that Rawles has created will continue to support many new books in the future. Survivors (unlike Patriots) leaves you with some unfinished business which, I assume, will be tied up when [the second sequel] Deo volente comes out.

I also have to mention that even though I have read Survivors I ordered a new copy so I can get the great cover art on my bookshelf (the advance copy has a plain cover). The art fits the theme of Rawles world and the story itself perfectly. Great story, great read, educational, interesting and timely - just what you want in a book. Nice work James Wesley Rawles!" - Robert A. Jacobsen

Thanks for your help in making the Book Bomb Day a success!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Please don't order any copies of my upcoming novel "Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse" until its release day, October 4th, 2011.

Survivors Cover

The cover art was masterfully rendered by mixed media artist Tony Mauro, Jr. of New York. He took my vague one-minute verbal concept description, and he nailed it. I am very happy with his design and his choice of color palette. It really captures the essence of the novel. (The lead character, Andy Laine, is depicted on horseback in Texas, in the midst of The Crunch. You'll see how closely Tony matched the storyline when you read the novel. Much of the novel is set in the Four Corners Region. I don't want to reveal any spoilers, so I'll keep this brief.)

"Survivors" is unusual for a novel sequel. Instead of extending the story further into the future, it is contemporaneous with the action in my first novel, "Patriots". But it is set in different locales, with mostly different characters. There are just a few crossover characters, such as Ian and Blanca Doyle (whom you will remember from "Patriots" as the husband and wife Laron Light Experimental airplane owners living near Luke Air Force Base.)

The novel is being published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. It will first be released in hardback, followed in 2012 by a trade paperback. (The latter is the same binding format used with "Patriots".)

I should mention that the Kindle e-book and the audio book (via Amazon and are scheduled for the same release day. And I'm pleased to report that the award-winning Dick Hill is again doing the narration.

Again, please wait until October 4th to order your copy. By concentrating all of the orders on the release day (the "Book Bomb Day"), I hope to help propel the book into Amazon's Top 20. Thanks!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Survival: The Five I’s That Might Keep You Alive, by Dino

If you read the title carefully, you’ll notice the word might. Regardless of preparation, situations sometimes spiral out of control faster than we can react to the. In a TEOTWAWKI scenario of indeterminate cause, all the plans in the world go out the window, literally in some cases. Ask any senior military officer about mission planning, and invariably they will tell you that from the time a briefing starts until it ends, the situation has evolved to make the plan need adjusting. The film industry has some of the most creative minds in the world (and some that are not so creative), so the gamut of post-apocalyptic possibilities runs from Mad Max to Waterworld, from The Postman to Dawn of the Dead, from Outbreak to Armageddon. My interest in this genre of these movies (and books for that matter), led to my need to prepare for almost any eventuality. This article can only hope to give you my concepts for saving myself and my family.

The five I’s mentioned in the title are initiate, instruct, improvise, isolate, and invisible. Most of you, who are reading this, have the inclination to live this lifestyle on an everyday basis. You’re already interested in keeping yourself and your family out of the coming storm, in whatever form it takes. Four years ago, when I met my wife (a widow with five children) she laughed at what I jokingly call my “zombie kit”. You would call it a bug out bag. Today, after only four years together, she takes it much more seriously, and we have one for all seven of us, one at my place of business, one at her office, plus smaller versions in each of our five cars. Witnessing the crumbling of the US economy has given her a better understanding of the possibility of social upheaval, or as I love to call it, "the coming of the zombies". It really is only a matter of time until the costs of food, clothing, and shelter, force everyday people to drastic, violent measures in an attempt to keep their families alive.

     Step one: Initiate.

It’s your plan, so now is the time to initiate it. Wait until those first news reports of violent riots breaking out in the cities, and you’ve waited too long. It’s not like you aren’t already planning for your future. With saving up to buy a house, for your kids’ college tuition, or your retirement, you plan for the day that you should eventually need these things. In the past ten years, we’ve witnessed just how helpless the authorities can be in time of dire need. Terrorist attacks, unprecedented natural disasters, extreme weather, banking failures, and escalating economic collapses sound like the preface to a science fiction thriller, but are really just today’s headlines. Your reaction may well define how you survive the next decade. If you initiate a good plan today, and that really means today, you just might get your people through in one piece.

Once started, you’ll notice how easy it becomes to work your preparations into your everyday life. Things that seemed impossible, or difficult, will become second nature, and the boost to your self-esteem and skill sets will serve you even if worst case scenarios never occur. Okay, so maybe you were never planning on growing your own food, but even a windowsill planter in the smallest urban apartment will give you an idea of how difficult it might be to just feed yourself, while providing tasty berries or cherry tomatoes. Try hiking. Your health will benefit, and you can break in a great pair of boots before they are needed. It’s a great way to explore parts of your area for the necessary materials you may need on very short notice, whether you live in a rural area, or in a large urban setting like Manhattan.

Where I live, in Nassau County, just outside of New York City, my escape options are very limited because of the size of my family and the nature of the bottleneck created by needing to cross a bridge to get off of Long Island. So my wife and I were forced to institute some rules for the five kids, whose ages range from 23 to 12. We must know of their whereabouts at all times (a good idea anyway), so should the worst-case occur, we could get them and get out. Without giving away any details, I am confident that I could get my family away from almost any trouble should the need arise.

     Step two: Instruct.

As human beings, we have the ability to learn new things on an ongoing basis, while retaining knowledge previously mastered. Now, imparting that knowledge to your family should be a priority, while continuing to learn new things yourself. Its best if you all try to learn new, diverse things, as the width of your communal know-how is just as important as the depth of your specific information. The greatest gift that I was able to pass along was my thirst for knowledge, learning new things, sometimes just for learning’s sake. With seven very different and distinct personalities to satisfy, there have been some surprising additions to our family well of knowledge.

Our 16 year old daughter has embraced my philosophy totally, and has taken French in high school (should Canada become an option), became a Certified First Responder, the precursor to being an EMT, and begs me to teach her how to drive our newest addition, a 2003 Ford Excursion. The eldest boy, aged 14, wrestles in High School, and is a sponge for knowledge. His brother, at 12 years old, knows his way around a tool box as well as I do, and believes, in his heart, that there is nothing he can’t repair. These were all skills they were cultivating long before I met their Mother, but when shown how they could pool them together to form a team, the incentive to grow further became evident.

     Step Three: Improvise.

MacGyver. That name brings a flood of memories to my generation. A television show based on the improvisational abilities of the lead character to get himself out of trouble. Some of the solutions seemed absurd at the time, but looking back, the concept was purely survivalist. With a short list of basic supplies, a prepared individual should be able to not only survive, but thrive in a post-apocalyptic future. With a family of seven, the going could be harder, or easier, depending on the situation, but my imagination has kept me ahead of the curve in most cases. With very little financial investment, we have based family vacations around learning to adapt, trying out outdoor living in the form of camping. By “forgetting” an important item or two each time, lessons were learned, and solutions were found.

Thinking on my feet is one of my greatest assets, and something you can’t teach. The old saying that “Necessity is the Mother of invention” will hold true more than ever should society fold up.

     Step Four: Isolate.

Getting out of reach. A world wide cataclysm will not let anybody go untouched, but there are certain cases where “away” is where you want to be. Just because you don’t have a rural retreat, doesn’t mean you can’t isolate yourselves. Barricades and boarded windows could save your lives, as the rioting masses would choose the low hanging fruit first. Surviving the first hours, days, or weeks of an incident may be the time you need to gain an advantage.

Be prepared to spend that time out of touch with the world, something the current generation may have huge problems with. We have phone free days, in an attempt to teach our kids just how much time they waste texting, tweeting and emailing. Being out of touch for the first time rattled them a bit, but they are growing used to the idea. Try out “blackout Sundays”, where you kill the main power breaker to the house. Extreme? Maybe. Eye-opening? Positively. Funny how seven people in the dark have trouble getting along, even if the alternative is surely fatal. A few tries at this went horribly wrong, but we seem to have gotten it right the last few times. 

     Step Five: Invisible.

I’m lucky. Twenty years ago, when I was flush with money and stupid enough to spend it, I bought a huge chunk of upstate New York land. [Because of building restrictions] I can’t do anything to it, just hunt, but the vast size makes it a perfect retreat. No dirt trails, hiking trails or easy access, make it key for isolation, but it’s the terrain itself that make it invisible. It's entrance is in a deep rock cleft, barely two hundred yards from the Thruway, my refuge has come to be invisible. I dragged two forty foot shipping containers, two twenty foot shipping containers and a collection of old stockade fencing panels from a fencing company that was only too happy to let me have them. All this was no easy feat, it being almost a mile through the woods with no trail. We used just a few power winches and steel fence poles for roller logs. Now I have covered the tops of the containers, angling the fencing to provide roofline, and planted creeping ivy vines to hold the whole thing together. From twenty feet away, the cliff top looks like a solid mass of granite covered with native growth, and the access is a maze of transplanted shrubbery.

Being prepared means understanding that others who aren’t prepared will want to take your safety. Invisible solves that problem. At my home, you’d never know it, but the drywells that I had sunk in my backyard are all connected to each other, and by entering through a hidden manhole beneath my deck, I have access to my entire bunker system, and the dry wells double as water cisterns. In five years, only once did the water fill the first four drywells, leaving two between my shelter and rain water. The guys who installed the drywells saw only the connected drywells, and I did the bunker work myself, converting the last two (of eight) drywells for my own purposes.

Plan well ahead of need, and you’ll have a fighting chance at survival. If it’s never needed, that’s a good thing, if it is needed; it’s a great thing you did. Many of the things I’ve done cost little or nothing, and some even earn me back some cash. Inexpensive solutions, like getting the garbage fencing from new PVC fencing jobs made me money, and the company lets me use their equipment in exchange for disposing of all their fencing waste. Piece by piece I have added to my hoard. Many times these items were collected with permission during community curbside pickup days. These have included a cast iron wood burning stove, a chainsaw, lawnmower parts, and shelving units.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mr. Rawles,
I just finished your novel "Patriots" a few days ago and I was compelled to send you a note. Your writing has changed my whole view of the "survivalist/ militia" culture and beliefs. You have truly opened my eyes and provided some answers to many questions I have had for years now.

First you opened my eyes to how fragile our world truly is. The parallels to what is happening today in our society will certainly force me to take personal action for my family and close friends. I will be having both my son and daughter, as well as their spouses read your book. As well I will be recommending it to as many friends as I possibly can. At 52 years of age, I hope I am not too late, for my children's sake.

I appreciate the technical detail and references you have provided. Who knows some of it may save one or more lives in the future.

I have always been a believer in our Second Amendment rights in America and your book has just solidified the understanding of why this should be so important to us, and most importantly our children. Thank you for providing an inspirational and thought provoking look into what we may face in the future. I do so hope you will land your screenplay sale and "Patriots" goes to the big screen. If it does please make sure to maintain the message you send to all Americans. I will make sure I am one of the first to see the film if it does come out.

Thank you again sir, from my heart, I say "Thank you," - Rodney W., Beaverton, Oregon

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The following are the results of our recent poll of SurvivalBlog readers about favorite movies with survival and preparedness themes. Each one listed below got at least three votes:




Cast Away

Defiance This movie was based on the book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans by Nechama Tec

The Edge (Available through Netflix, as a DVD and "Play it Now" streaming.)

The Flight of the Phoenix (The original version, made in 1965, starring Jimmy Stewart. The recent remake stinks.)

The Great Escape 

I Am Legend

Jeremiah Johnson 

The Matrix Series (The Matrix/ The Matrix Reloaded/ The Matrix Revolutions)  

Miracle Mile  

Never Cry Wolf  

The Outlaw Josey Wales  

Panic in Year Zero

The Patriot 

The Postman

Rambo: First Blood  

Red Dawn  

The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome


The Terminator movies (Terminator 2 is by far the best.)

There were also two votes each for these comic honorable mentions: Tremors and Blast From the Past.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I was thinking about the "I Am Your Worst Nightmare" post as I worked in my vegetable garden, preparing it for Spring. I wonder how long it would be until the Looters evolved their strategy
to the next levels, as follows:

Looter+1: Don't kill everyone, leave some alive to loot again later.

Looter+2: Plan to scare, rather than kill, your victims, so that they can continue farming and provide for your needs later. Dead victims can't work.

Looter+3: Claim a territory and collect "protection" money/goods from the people in your territory. Tell them that in return for only taking one-third of everything they produce, you will protect them from "looters" who will take it all and kill them in the bargain. Punish anyone who holds out.

Looter+4: Call your loot taxes. You are now a government.

Regards, - Bear

JWR Replies: Your observation is astute. In many nations, there is not much difference between "the government" and the bandito "Señor Calvera." (You may remember the bandit leader in The Magnificent Seven--which was the American remake of Akira Kurosawa's classic film Seven Samurai.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

As a college teacher, NRA firearms instructor, and military trainer (including survival skills), I have spent years sorting the most effective teaching techniques from less effective ones.  Obviously, some types of training, such as marksmanship, require hands-on methods, while classroom presentations are more appropriate for other subjects.  In all cases, however, it is common for students to base their questions on preconceived notions.  For example:  “What is the 'best' handgun?”  Best for what situation?  Or,
 “What is the best survival kit?”  I always reply, it’s the one you carry between your ears;  knowledge, not equipment.  And, I am often asked similar questions about “best” books, and again, I counter, best for what? 

For actual instruction on survival-related skills, there exists a plethora of training manuals, old and new, general and specialized, beginner level to expert.  Some of these books give the subject matter straight and unvarnished; others contain an admixture of politics, patriotism, or preaching along with the technical data.  I quarrel with neither approach, but I do have reservations about much recommended “inspirational” literature, - mostly novels, - intended to “send a message” or otherwise stimulate the readers’ thought. 

Far too many of the current crop are based on premises or plots so implausible that the author undermines any credibility his characters’ actions may have.  This is entertaining, but it leads the reader directly into the realm of imagination, if not outright fantasy, (not unlike imagining oneself as James Bond) instead of leading him to ask, “what would I do in that situation?”  Moreover, though it may be like sugared medicine, a truly inspirational story must go down smoothly, so the reader gets the point without feeling he is being preached to.  So, why bother? Why not stick with the technical books?

As mentioned, hard skills can be learned, and practiced, but it is difficult to develop, much less measure a person’s survival mindset, his ability to anticipate problems he might encounter, his situational understanding.  Even Jesus recognized that most people learn best through stories:

". . . the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?  He answered and said unto them,  Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.  . . . because they see not; . . . neither do they understand." - Matthew 13: 10 - 13

Some books that meet the criterion of  “understanding” have stood the test of time:

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank [the pen name of newspaperman Harry Hart Frank] is the overall best post-apocalyptic novel.  First published in 1959, it is still in print.  It tells the story of a fictional town in Florida, coping on its own after a brief nuclear war has destroyed central government and electrical power.  There are some exciting conflicts, but no space aliens, no diseases unknown to science, no comets striking the earth, no roving bands of drug-crazed looters – just sympathetic characters realistically dealing with plausible problems.  One older character salvages a discarded bicycle, recognizing its value if the gasoline runs out.  Another character saves irrigation pipe, realizing that the city water supply will soon fail.  Lacking medical instruments, a doctor improvises a surgical kit from household tools.

The book is well-written and the plot builds to an exciting, yet plausible, climax.  Some of the 1950s technology is outdated, such as tube-type radios, and some details have changed --  the Air Force Base mentioned is now Orlando’s airport – but the fictive town is based on the real town of Sanford, Florida, the other places mentioned are real, and the characters seem real, too.  They are neither survivalists, nor firearms experts, nor former Green Berets; the reader can relate to them without delving into fantasy.

First runner-up, and best in the emergency evacuation category, is No Blade of Grass (1956) by “John Christopher,” the pen name of prolific British science fiction author, Samuel Youd.  His series of books depicting life after a space alien invasion is popular, but this book is realistic and plausible.   A plant disease wipes out most of the world’s food crops; famines, riots, wars, and social chaos follow.   Several families band together to escape London, losing their vehicles halfway through their odyssey.  The characters deal with privation, hardship, danger and violence in realistic ways. Some of them cannot accept “murder for self-preservation;” others willingly trade their personal freedom for protection by the stronger.  A historically-minded reader can see a parallel to the collapse of the Roman Empire and the rise of feudalism in an insecure Europe.

No Blade of Grass is now back in print, but look for copies from earlier editions that are widely and inexpensively available on the used book market.  It is also known under the British title Death of Grass and a reprint title, An End to Grass.  A 1970 motion picture bears little resemblance to the book, so skip the movie.

The award for Miss Uncongeniality goes to the title character in Vandenberg (1971), re-titled by the publisher as Defiance: An American Novel (1981), by Oliver Lange (the pseudonym of novelist John Wadleigh).  Vandenberg, the character, is a rebellious social misfit who resists indoctrination after a Communist take-over of the American West. He finds it harder than most such books make it seem.  Vandenberg pontificates, “to listen to some, if the day ever came, 500,000 citizens, all appropriate Rogue Male types, would melt into the hills, and when they weren’t creating havoc among brutal Occupation forces, they would be practicing the fine art of survival.”  On equipment, he says, “if a survival and guerrilla nut bought all the stuff the outdoor stores and catalogs said he needed, it would’ve taken a 25-foot U-Haul trailer and two weeks of packing to get him out of his damned driveway.”

Of course he does go into the hills, and the author’s descriptions of the New Mexico mountains are so accurate the book’s locations can be found on a map.  Eventually he does get some equipment, and he does recruit a few other rebels willing to fight back, but the ultimate result is more thought-provoking than satisfying.  Both titles are out of print but available on the used book market. 

A similar theme with a more optimistic conclusion is developed  by Samuel Southwell, a former U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala, in If All the Rebels Die (1966). Southwell’s characters resist enemy occupation after a brief nuclear war, but it is their discussions about patriotism, duty, resistance and its consequences – especially the consequences of reprisals by the enemy – that stimulate the reader to think, “what could I do in such a situation?”  “What would I do in such a situation?”

Many books, both current and past, develop the idea of retreating to the mountains and ultimately fighting the “bad guys” of that particular scenario. "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse" ( 2006, 2009, and earlier draft editions [under other titles]) by James Wesley, Rawles, is a current best-seller that has been described as “a survival manual disguised as a novel.”  It is the now-standard dystopian tale of the hardy band of survivors coping in the wake of the collapse of civilization, and it is representative of this type plot – nothing original here.  But it differs from similar works in the early chapters which describe a collapsing economy: 

“The President . . . instead of reducing growth in government spending launched an immoderate bank lending stimulus package . . . the Federal Reserve . . . began monetizing large and larger portions of the debt (p.13)  The dollar collapsed because of the long-standing promises of the FDIC . . . the government had to print money – lots and lots of it.”  (p. 15)

This is prescient, considering the first edition of this book came out about 1999, before the current government actions it seems to predict, and the theme of economic collapse followed by chaos has resonated with many readers.  The remainder of the book, however “action-packed,” is far less plausible.  An earlier, briefer treatment is found in Fire and Ice (1975), by Ray Kytle.  Note the author’s name, since there are several books by this title.

Fire and Ice was written shortly after the very first Arab oil embargo of 1973, and it posits a three-year economic decline precipitated by an oil shortage.  The protagonist and his family do, indeed, go to a mountain cabin, and do, indeed, fight the good fight.  But along the way they must deal with such problems as obtaining firearms on the black market, and the enmity of less-prepared neighbors.  They also face their own crises of conscience, not over the morality of killing but of the “selfishness” of protecting themselves versus attempting to help their friends and community.   Except in Southwell, this psychological dimension has not been dealt with in other books.  Some of the technical details are less plausible: Even if you can obtain guns ‘off the books,’ don’t try to smuggle 2,000 rounds of .30-06 ammunition in your children’s luggage; they would weigh about 140 pounds!

It is training that prevents an emergency from becoming a crisis, but no one can say, with absolute certainty, what he or she would do in a given emergency.  Soldiers and “first responders” are trained (and trained, and trained) on how to react in foreseeable situations, yet even well-trained persons sometimes fail to take appropriate action.  There are also a number of our fellow survivalists who are so committed to a particular scenario they either cannot or will not consider possible alternative situations or outcomes [If I just have enough guns and ammo, I’ll be safe, no matter what!] or they do not take into consideration many of the human factors that affect sound judgment and decisive action.

While it would be best to develop one’s situational understanding through long training and practice, such training is not available to all.  Some degree, however, can be gained by a study program that involves reading for mental exercise as well as practical knowledge.  I believe the books I have briefly reviewed will be helpful.  However, if an asteroid does strike the planet [as in Lucifer's Hammer] or if the aliens land, you are on your own!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sorry about the delay, but here are the result's of last month's poll. Today, I'm starting a new poll: What are your favorite movies with survival themes? Please e-mail me a list of your top five picks. Thanks! I'll post the results sometime early in November.

Here are the results of our recent poll. Thety are listed in no particular order, but each book listed below received at least two votes. Those that are marked with an asterisk are suitable for teenagers.

Thanks for all your input. As I recently mentioned in an interview on the Laura Ingraham show, one of the best ways to inspire preparedness newbies is to put a piece of survival fiction in their hands. It gets them thinking through some potential "what if" situations.

Friday, May 29, 2009

I recently signed a contract with Atria Books (a division of Simon & Schuster) to write two sequels to my novel "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse" Unlike traditional sequels, the storylines of these novels will be contemporaneous with the economic collapse and invasion described in the first novel. There will be some overlap of characters, but most of the action will take place in different locales. My goal is to use these two books to write about a lot of different tactics, techniques, and technologies for survival.

I'd greatly appreciate getting some tidbits of information from readers that would help add realism and authenticity to the next manuscript. I have fully outlined the book, but have thusfar only written three draft chapters. I'm hoping that there are some subject matter experts out there in the SurvivalBlog readership that can help me out with:any of the following information and insights:

  • Commercial fuel distillation, and how it might continue (localized) if the power grid goes down.
  • Details on natural gas "drip oil" collection and its use in gasoline engines
  • Experience with a 30-foot to 38-foot blue water sailboat
  • Raised in the Creole culture
  • Knows the current aggregate value of the Property Book of a Stryker Battalion. (Yes, I know that Strykers cost $2 million each, but...)
  • Recently lived in the Four Corners region
  • Done bicycle touring in France and Germany, preferably with winter bike touring experience
  • Lived in Belize for several years
  • Experience with reconstructive facial surgery, following trauma. (Surgeon or patient)
  • An F-16 fighter pilot within the past 10 years.
  • Experience with Laron Starstreaks or similar "Light Experimental" class aircraft
  • Lived in or near Prescott, Arizona
  • Worked in a commercial cornmeal processing plant, preferably "old school", small scale
  • Recently stationed at Luke AFB
  • Owned a Lahti 9mm pistol
  • Raised in the "Texas-German" culture (such as New Braunfels)
  • Lived in Wisbech or a similar town with a yacht harbor in southern England
  • Experience using compact QRP 40 meter band HF transmitters.(Paperback book size or smaller, preferably DC-powered)

If you can answer "Yes!" to any of these, please send me an e-mail. I'll try to keep my queries brief, and not pester you too much. In exchange, you are welcome to equivalent consulting time in any of my areas of expertise.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hi Jim,
I hope all is well with you and your family. I just want to let you know that I spotted a copy of "Patriots" today in an unexpected place. My April issue of Christianity Today arrived and on page 42 is an article about Pastor Doug Wilson. On that page there is a picture of him standing in front of a large bookshelf filled with books. I noticed right in the middle is a copy of "Patriots" on the bookshelf. - Nick in Indy

JWR Replies:
You just made my day. I have been a fan of Doug Wilson's writings for many years. He is the editor of Credenda Agenda--an excellent magazine on Christian apologetics from a Reformed perspective. Wilson pastors Christ Church, that meets in Moscow, Idaho. Since my novel is set in the Moscow region, this probably explains why he has a copy.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I'd like to thank you personally for maintaining SurvivalBlog. Until last year, I'd always thought of my survival skills as important to have, but didn't think I'd ever truly need them. Now that the bottom has fallen out of the economy (in exactly the way you predicted!), I believe everything I value is truly at risk. To see the danger that America is in, just turn on the news for ten seconds. To see the danger that the culture of true service to God is in, do a Google search for "De-baptism" or "Santa Muerte." The world's situation has gone rapidly downhill, but the amount of content on SurvivalBlog - and the attention it's receiving - has been accelerating at an equal pace. Though my logistics are far from ideal, I'm much better prepared than I was a year ago, and I'm grateful to you for giving me the information to become this prepared.

Also, I got my copy of "Patriots" the other day. Its advice makes the average survival guide look like scribblings on the back of a Post-it note, and the plot is head and shoulders above the average thriller. Thanks for writing it, and God bless you.- James in the East

Monday, March 2, 2009

Review copies of the new edition of my novel "Patriots" available sometime in March. If you publish book reviews, or know of someone that has a large readership/audience and that is likely to write a favorable review, please e-mail me their current snail mail addresses.

Be advised that there will probably be only about 120 review copies available, so I will have to be very selective about who they go to. My publicist will of course be sending copies to the New York Times Book Review and the other major reviewers. But the list that I am developing is for conservative niche publications, bloggers, and broadcasters. Please don't take it personally if you don't get a copy. The priority will be dispassionately based on the greatest potential media exposure. My list of the highest priority reviewers for publicity at first glance are:

(Note: I already have addresses for any listings marked in bold. I need snail mail addresses for the rest. Thanks!

Jerry Ahern Sean Hannity Bill O'Reilly Charles Hugh Smith
Dale Amon Danny Hansen (SWAT Mag.) Michael Panzner Joe Soyer (Alphecca)
Massad Ayoob Hugh Hewitt Dr. Ignatius Piazza Ryan
Michael Bane Joe Huffman Jerry Pournelle S.M. Stirling
Glenn Beck Dean Ing John Pugsley John Stossel

Barton Biggs

Laura Ingraham Steve Quayle Les Stroud
Jim Bohannon Jeff Jarvis Michael Reagan Gabe Suarez
Bill Bonner David Kopel Dr. Arthur B. Robinson Mark Steyn
Neal Boortz Larry Kudlow John Ross Andrew Sullivan
Dr. Bruce Clayton Rush Limbaugh Kenneth Royce George Ure
Ann Coulter G. Gordon Liddy Glenn Reynolds Oleg Volk
Clayton Cramer James Lileks Howard J. Ruff Eugene Volokh
James Dakin Christian Lowe (DefenseTech) Richard Russell (Dow Theory Ltr.) Michael Z. Williamson
Dave (of Captain Dave's) Michelle Malkin Matt Savinar Claire Wolfe
David at Random Nuclear Strikes Chris Matthews Kurt Saxon Xavier (of Xavier's Thoughts)
Vox Day Richard Maybury Peter Schiff
Lou Dobbs Don McAlvany Tim Schmidt (USCCA) Commander Zero
Larry Elder Declan McCullagh Walter Shapiro Tamara _ _ _ _ (of the BBB Blog)
Joseph Farah Michael Medved Mish Shedlock  
Frugal Squirrel's Melanie Morgan Laurence Simon  
Seth Godin Dr. Gary North Joel Skousen  
Jeff Goldstein Ted Nugent Mark Skousen  

Have I overlooked anyone that is likely to provide significant publicity for the new book? If so, please let me know their e-mail and snail mail addresses, via e-mail. Many thanks!

The publicist from Ulysses Press will mail out the complimentary review copies as soon as they are available.

Be advised that the "Patriots" cover illustrations here are available under license for publication or posting with book reviews, Wiki pages, or in book catalogs,

The tentative release date is April 8, 2009, which will also be our Book Bomb Day. Many thanks for your help on making the new edition. God willing, it will wake up some sheeple, and encourage some substantive preparedness!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I wanted to thank you for what you are doing and your work. I think that the reality is that you are saving a lot of people's lives in addition to helping people to continue to be "in" the world but less and less "of" the world. I have been able, in turn, to pass along to other people a lot of things that I have learned from you and your readers, and I hope help them to focus and remain calm in their preparations. (I have also pointed them all to your web site).

Now three things that I have done/learned that I would pass along to your readers:

1) I did get some guns and ammunition recently following the information I learned from your web site and novel. Then I found a man that would teach me basic marksmanship - again as your advice suggested, learn the tools you could be relying on. After just one day of proper training I was shooting better than 90% of the yahoos at the range that had far better gear than I have. It cost me a little money But I am better equipped, more confident, and have a foundation to build upon - add each day I am at the range I am better and better. So I would tell your readers that if they just "think" they know what they are doing, then spend a little money and really learn what you are doing.

2) I bought and read "Patriots". It was a good read, but sobering. At the same time, it helped me frame better the "problem" I am trying to solve. And while I hope it never gets that bad, it sure allowed me to get some perspective and begin to work things out in a way that fits my scenario. My advice would be for others to get your book and read it.

3) I purchased the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. When I first started this process a few months ago, I was very overwhelmed. I noticed your course and its price and I thought - "Too much." However, after reading the blog for a month or so and after reading your your book, I felt you could be trusted and that your course was not "hokey." I have been very, very pleased. It is practical, well organized, and adaptable. There is a saying "How do you eat an elephant? - One bite at a time." And your course helped me to get things aligned so that I could eat things "One bite at a time."

I have been working on a one year preparedness program since the week after Christmas. I am probably 75% of the way toward where I want to be. The remaining 25% is probably one-half just finishing purchasing and storing some things and one-half understanding if my retreat location can handle some of my "plans" and if not, [then determining] what is Plan B.

My family and I would not be nearly so far along without your help. I wish we had started this process long, long ago, but c'est la vie. We are on our way now!
May God bless you and your family, Kind Regards, - Jay

Friday, February 13, 2009

Dear Jim,
I was incensed that one of my state's US Senators (Kay Hagan of North Carolina) voted for the so-called "Stimulus Bill". I searched for ways to register my protest in such a way that it would get her attention. Thanks to you and your novel "Patriots", I have a way. I just sent her a copy with a gift card from The gift card reads: "This is to thank you for voting for the stimulus bill and making the resulting economic collapse and hyperinflation profiled in this work of fiction a reality." I just hope she gets the message, since it is a bit subtle especially for a politician.

I really like your book and am re-reading it. I hope you understand that I mean no disrespect to you in my means of protesting Hagan's vote on the Stimulus Bill.

All the best, - John R., Waynesville, North Carolina

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I'm a long-time lurker of SurvivalBlog, but thought I'd pass on some links of interest. For the record, I've read your novel ["Patriots"], and I am coming from a "Peaknik" viewpoint. But still have my original copy of "Life After Doomsday". Currently I'm living in Finland, which has its pros and cons. "Russian bombers over your home" is not a theoretical concept to Finns and they don't grow enough food for themselves [for a self-sufficient economy.]. A Nordic socialist government with high taxes and cost of living might not be of interest to many SurvivalBlog readers, but at least I see where my money goes and feel safer for my family should something happen to me. We won't talk about gun control and no legal right to self-defense. However, the country is the third most heavily armed civilian population in the world. Excluding the two school shootings the lack of most violent crime I would attest to the social welfare system in the country helping even out the worst of the differences. Study the causes of the nasty Finnish Civil War of 1918 with how united the country was in WWII and you can see why some of the social welfare system was instituted.

There's a large number of illegal guns in the country, 50,000--500,000. These aren't just your old hunting rifle, but include Maxim machine guns sealed behind a wall and mortar tubes in the basement. See the Wikipedia page on weapons caches. (A stay-behind plan in case of Russian occupation of the country. Note the explanation of why Finnish communists went from planning revolution to entering Parliament).

The Finnish government has spent a lot of time and effort towards building resiliency into the country, fearing a repeat of WWII when they ended up fighting both the Soviets and the Nazis. Since then they put a lot of effort into building up food stocks and ensuring the country can survive on its own. Bomb shelters are still part of the standard building code, though it's been relaxed from buildings of 600m2 [floor] surface area to 1000m2, and the air-raid sirens are still tested regularly. Military conscription is still practiced here and overall widely supported by people as well as a strong reserve system. However recruits these days are more likely to be out of shape and more attuned to working with computers than the farm-bred youth of WWII.

Many Finns have their own cottages as they move from the farm didn't occur that long ago. With the many lakes for water, cottages for shelter, wood for fuel and more nature-orientation of the Finns I think they'd do fine overall as a society in a TEOTWAWKI situation presuming the government food supplies get the population through the first winter. I was reading the government estimate in a Finland-stands-alone situation is that they can feed everyone in Finland with at least 2,800 calories per day, though you might be suicidal from the blandness of the diet. (See the NESA web site). This is a bilingual country with Finnish and Swedish, but they still translate many things into English).
Unfortunately, I don't know how much they took into account cuts in the fuel supply for tractors, fertilizers and transportation. The winters can be harsh and we're noticing climate change here leading to "black winters" that are worse than "real" winters. The snow and frost helps kill off bugs in the soil, provide extra insulation for buildings, and reflects light so it's not so dark. Unfortunately, that's all disappearing. Winds blow to the east for about nine months of the year. Unfortunately, Chernobyl melted down during one of the [Spring] months [when] the winds blow from the east and so nuclear fallout is also a concept that's been just theoretical so far. There's some mushrooms here you no longer want to eat. The Sosnovy Bor reactor that powers St. Petersburg is the same model as Chernobyl and is far closer to the Finnish border than one would like.

[Some topics previously discussed in SurvivalBlog snipped, for brevity.]

Lest we forget non-TEOTWAWKI scenarios, here's a reminder of the world of US WWII rationing. I like the various kids' books about disaster being published by various agencies. "Color your way through disaster!" could be their motto. Still, it's a beginning.

May I also suggest some readers might be interested in the late John Seymour's post-collapse novel "Retrieved from the Future". Seymour is famous as a father of the back-to-the-land movement in Britain, publishing two classics as "The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It" as well as "Forgotten Arts and Crafts". Both are well illustrated and have a wealth of information on how to do things as well as how things used to be done. "Retrieved from the Future" is basically a Peak Oil novel written twelve years ago and set in Britain. As befits a self-sufficiency guru he pays a lot of attention to how high-energy farming fails to keep going as oil, fertilizer and spare parts go away while also discussing the rebirth of older forms of agricultural. The Golden Horde makes its visit and is deflected, but not the British Army when it comes time to requisition food for the cities and seize the few weapons British civilians have. Basically a solid British perspective on what would happen during a collapse.

As some readers have expressed interest in the new film "Defiance" I might also suggest trying to get hold of a Soviet film from 1987 called "Come and See". Essentially a film about partisans in Byelorussia during WWII, the depiction of the village being destroyed came to my mind several times while I was reading your book "Patriots".
Regards, - Simo H. in Finland

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hello Mr Rawles,

Just a quick comment on the new movie that's out called "Defiance". It is rated R since it has killing and some cursing but is based on a true story about three Jewish brothers [named Bielski] who lived in Byelorussia at the start of WWII when the Germans [and their Quisling allies] began to round up and murder entire villages and communities of Jews. They decided to live in the woods that they knew so well and escape and resist the Germans...They met others who had escaped to the woods to hide and began to pool their talents and pick off soldiers and arm themselves and live off the land and ended up living in the woods on the run for over two years and ended up over 1,200 strong. Their will to survive and methods of survival against well armed troops was incredible. They started out with a revolver and four cartridges and began to accumulate different types of weapons to fight back. Some scenes show them trying to defend themselves with old bolt actions against machine guns till eventually they began to use all [the small arms] that the Germans had available, as well. The movie excelled in contrasting the different mindsets that were common among the people of the day that caused many to sit idly by and be rounded up or shot on sight and many to be able to run and hide and fight. I think many SurvivalBlog readers would want to see this movie and would marvel at what humans are capable of--both positively and negatively. Thanks, - Ross

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I just found a bunch of excellent books, some of which are found on the classics lists for obvious reasons. The Internet dealer Walnut Grove was the only place I could find online that had the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder "Little House on the Prairie" nine-book series in hard cover. They also have the box set in paperback for a reasonable price.

I also received an insert with one of my purchases from them for another book listed there titled "The Prairie Girls' Guide to Life" that includes "49 pioneer projects for the modern girl." This should be a really good book for young girls to learn skills needed all to soon. Only $15 USD.

The Walnut Grove web site is not very good for going back and forth so here is the homepage. Click on "SHOPPING Cart" in order to enter their online store.

If anyone is interested in purchasing books or other items from them for Christmas, I can tell you that I placed an order only three days ago, and it arrived today in a Priority Mail box. Regards, - Dan S.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I am new to your blog (a real treasure chest!) and happened to read your post concerning the Pollys in our lives. I have also spent many of my days what seems like shouting out of the bottom of a barrel to raise people's awareness of the potential issues that surround us.

I did note that you mentioned [the television series] Jericho as a means of raising people's awareness concerning survival, etc. Our family has been able to share our DVDs almost like a lending library all summer and had many, many friends and even acquaintances not only like the series (even though I agree wholeheartedly that the information is skewed ...who looks at a mushroom cloud to see another day or drink iodine???), but they have consequently started thinking about what they might do personally in the event of a disaster. My biggest hope has been to make the younger generation of people who have never seen any hardship nor thought such thing to be possible, aware of and contemplate the possibility at least once in their lives.

As of October 21, CBS has made Season 1 of Jericho available online on YouTube. There is no registration necessary to view the entire first season. It is a great (and free) way to plunge through the episodes with a minimum of distraction. A number of people have been keeping track over the past couple of weeks on the Jericho message board on NBC universal and the views on the youtube episodes are now averaging 50-60,000 a day and rising for the pilot episode, and 15,000-17,000 a day for the first 14 episodes (each!). Something has started making people become more aware. The final episodes of Season 1 are much lower in views but that, most likely has to do with the view-counters for those episodes being out of whack. Anyway, I thought you might like to be able to get the word out to people that they needn't even spend any money to buy Jericho, they can simply watch the first season online, or on TV (see the next paragraph) for a short time.

Also, as of November 30th, the network channel The CW [a broadcast television network in the US] started re-playing Jericho on Sunday evenings prior to their big movie. It is finally being broadcast at a time when normal human beings and families can watch it at 7 pm EST (6 pm MST), and on a non-cable channel. UHD [Universal High Definition] TV has been re-broadcasting Jericho for a while and will continue through December. There were only 1.3 million viewers for the pilot episode last week but the CW only advertised it for one week prior to it's start. For those who are interested, they could probably catch up the Pilot episode online on YouTube and then continue with the rest of the series as a family on Sunday evenings. I have truly seen nothing better for entire families to get them engaged in the preparedness discussion.

While I sound like a bit of an apologist for Jericho it comes from the heart of watching people's awareness blossom into being able to acknowledge that perhaps they best do something...just in case. One of the new young couples who watched the whole series in 16.5 hours straight (as only young people can do! ) looked at me and said, you know, maybe we better think about buying some food and having some things on hand...just in case. That totally made my day. When is the last time I have seen a young couple even contemplate such thinking. :) Thanks for your amazing and informative blog - TPL


Howdy James,
Reading your SurvivalBlog post on your recommendations of some television shows with survival mindset themes, here's a few more...


Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Season 1 is now out on DVD (available at Netflix)
Current season full episodes available at

[A post-apocalyptic science fiction series that] ran two seasons [as a Showtime series]. No real "end" to it. An, interesting show, though.
Seasons 1 & 2 available on DVD (available at Netflix)
Netflix has it available to watch online as well as on DVD.


Hoods Woods (Ron Hood)
I rented his intro DVD from Netflix, and I'm looking forward to getting his 25 DVD set, which is on sale until Christmas.

Survivorman (Les Stroud)
Seasons 1 & 2 of Survivorman out on DVD (available from Netflix)
Les Stroud also made a documentary for Canadian television a while back called "Off the Grid with Les Stroud " [that is available on YouTube]. A pretty good show, about Stroud and his family moving from the suburbs to 150 acres in the Canadian wilderness with solar and wind power, etc. Off the Grid is available from the Survivorman web site.

Ray Mears
Ray Mears has done several shows for British television, and has consulted on several more, notably, the popular "Long Way Down" motorcycle trek by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. Here are the shows I've heard of, seems there's another new one called Walkabout, but I haven't seen it...
Extreme Survival
Wild Food

The shows are available on DVD from the web site.

I hope these are helpful, enjoyable, entertaining, educational, and motivational to some folks! Thanks, - Rick in New Hampshire

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dear Sir:
Recently I acquired a copy of your novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". I have read a few works of survivalist fiction in my time, your book is one of the few that I could honestly say I would be happy to read again and again. There aren't many books I could say that about

A little background here, I'm a former Royal Marine originally from England and now I live in Northern Ireland. There isn't much of a survivalist movement here in the UK so I consider myself to be in a minority! I also write survival manuals in my spare time (which I don't have much of lately) and I follow the word of the bible regarding preparing for the unforeseen. Far too often I have watched the news of some disaster and seen people stood with their hands out begging for help and expecting it from the government. Last year there was widespread flooding in the South of England, and I recall seeing several people on the news complaining that they had no clean drinking water. If I had been in this situation, I have about 200 gallons of potable water in store, and then I also have something like a years supply of purifying tablets, and a number of filters. When those run out, its the old fashioned way, boiling.

I grew up in an ethnically diverse community, and went to school with Asian, Oriental and Afro-Caribbean kids, so its quite refreshing to see you have added a blend of races in the characters. All too often, survivalists are labeled 'Racist', 'Anti-semitic', or 'White Supremacist'. Your character 'Kevin Lendel' reminded me somewhat of the character Paul Rubenstein in 'The Survivalist' series of novels, [by Jerry Ahern] which were in fact the first survivalist fiction I ever read.

I found the information in the book to be quite useful and it has taken me in new directions with regard to my supplies and techniques. Some of the gear your characters store is however pretty hard to come by in the UK. When reading of the guys using ALICE packs, this brought back memories of the ALICE pack I used to have a few years ago, and I spent most of the next few days on eBay trying to find a large one in a usable condition. Now I've found one, I just need to get the cash together to buy it. Best wishes, - Steve

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Thank you for all of the work that you put into your web site. I have been reading your site and preparing for the last couple of years. I thought you might be interested in the Bibliography to my [retreat] group’s operations guide.


Adams, John Joseph. Wastelands. San Francisco : Night Shade Books, 2008.
Alten, Steve. The Shell Game. Springville , Utah : Sweetwater Books, 2007.
Brin, David. The Postman. New York : Bantam Books, 1985.
Budrys, Algis. Some Will Not Die. New York : Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 1961.
Card, Orson Scott. The Folk of the Fringe. New York : Tom Doherty Associates, Inc., 1989.
Carlson, Jeff. Plague War. New York : The Penguin Group, 2008.
Frank, Pat. Alas, Babylon . New York : Harper Perennial, 1959.
Heinlein, Robert A. Farmer in the Sky. New York : Ballantine Books, 1950.
________. Time Enough For Love. New York : The Berkley Publishing Group, 1973.
________. Tunnel In The Sky. New York : Ballantine Books, 1955.
Ing, Dean. Pulling Through. New York : Charter Communications, Inc., 1983.
Kunstler, James Howard. World Made By Hand. New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, 2008.
McDevitt, Jack. Eternity Road. New York : Harper Collins Publishers, 1997.
Niven, Larry and Jerry Pournelle. Lucifer’s Hammer. New York : The Random House Publishing Group, 1977.
Party, Boston T. Molon Labé! Ignacio , Colorado : Javelin Press, 2004.
Rawles, James Wesley. Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse. The Clearwater Press, 2006.
Sheffield, Charles. Aftermath. New York : Bantam Books, 1998.
Stewart, George R. Earth Abides. New York : Del Rey Books, 1949.
Stirling , S.M. Dies The Fire. New York : New American Library, 2004.
________. The Protector’s War. New York : New American Library, 2005.
________. A Meeting at Corvallis . New York : New American Library, 2006.

Food Storage
Layton, Peggy. Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook. New York : Three Rivers Press, 2002.
Stafford , Jake and Jim Rawles. Rawles Gets You Ready: The Ultimate Emergency Preparedness Course. Genoa , NV : Arbogast
Publishing, LLC, 2006.
Boy Scouts of America , Fieldbook, 4th Edition. Irving , TX : Boy Scouts of America , 2004.
Clayton, Bruce D. Life After Terrorism. Boulder , CO : Paladin Press, 2002.
Deyo, Holly Drennan. Dare to Prepare, 2nd Edition. Pueblo West, Colorado : Deyo Enterprises LLC, 2004
Diamond, Jared. Collapse, How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York : Penguin Books, 2005.
________. Guns, Germs, and Steel. New York : W.W. Norton & Company, 1997.
Emery, Carla. The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 9th Edition. Seattle : Sasquatch Books, 2003.
Kelly, Kate. Living Safe in an Unsafe World. New York : New American Library, 2000.
Kunstler, James Howard. The Geography of Nowhere. New York : Simon & Schuster, 1994.
________. The Long Emergency. New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, 2005.
McGlashan, Charles F. History of the Donner Party. Barnes & Noble Publishing, Inc., 2004.
Party, Boston T. Boston on Surviving Y2K and Other Lovely Disasters. Ignacio , CO : Javelin Press, 1998.
Rawles, James Wesley. Rawles on Retreats and Relocations. The Clearwater Press, 2007.
________. SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog Volume 1. Clearwater Press, 2007.
Ruff, Howard J. How To Prosper During The Coming Bad Years In The 21st Century. New York : The Penguin Group, 2008.
Starke, Linda. State of the World 2004. New York : W.W. Norton & Company, 2004.
United States Air Force. Search and Rescue Survival Training. New York : Barnes & Noble Publishing, Inc., 2003.
United States Army , US Army Survival Manual. New York : Dorset Press, 2001.
United States Marine Corps. Guidebook For Marines, 14th Revised Edition. Quantico , VA : The Marine Corps Association, 1982.

Global Warming
Gore, Al. An Inconvenient Truth. New York : Rodale, 2006.
Knauer, Kelly. Global Warming. New York : Time Books, 2007.
Lynas, Mark. Six Degrees, Our Future on a Hotter Planet. London : Harper Perennial, 2007.
JWR Adds: For a contrapuntal viewpoint, see: Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media, by Patrick J. Michaels

Bealer, Alex W. The Art of Blacksmithing. Edison , NJ : Castle Books, 1995.
Burbank , Nelson L. et al. House Construction Details, 7th Edition. New York : McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1986.
Davis , Thomas Bieber and Carl A. Nelson Sr. Audel Mechanical Trades Pocket Manual, 4th Edition. Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2004.
Finch, Richard. Welder’s Handbook, revised edition. New York : The Berkley Publishing Group, 1997.
Hauser, Walter. Introduction to the Principles of Mechanics. Reading , MA : Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., 1965.
Graf, Rudolf F. The Modern Power Supply and Battery Charger Circuit. New York : TAB Books, 1992.
Harper, Gavin D.J. Solar Energy Projects for the Evil Genius. New York : McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2007.
Hornung, William J. Builders Vest Pocket Reference Book. New York : Prentice Hall Press, 1955.
Macauly, David. The Way Things Work. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Company, 1988.
Oberg, Erik et al. 27th Edition Machinery’s Handbook. New York : Industrial Press, Inc., 2004.
Parmley, Robert O., P.E. Field Engineer’s Manual. New York : McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1981.
Peters, Rick. Plumbing Basics. New York : Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., 2000.
Proulx, Danny. The Pocket Hole Drilling Jig Project Book. Cincinnati , OH : Popular Woodworking Books, 2004.
Richter, H.P. et al. Wiring Simplified. Minneapolis : Park Publishing, Inc., 2002.
Schwarz, Max. Basic Engineering For Builders. Carlsbad , CA : Craftsman Book Company, 1993.
United States Navy. Basic Machines and How They Work. New York : Dover Publications, Inc., 1971.
Wing, Charlie. How Your House Works. Kingston , MA : Reed Construction Data, Inc., 2007.

Burns, A. August et al. Where Women Have No Doctor. Berkeley , CA : Hesperian, 1997.
Carline, Jan D., Ph.D. et al. Mountaineering First Aid, 4th Edition. Seattle , WA : The Mountaineers, 1996.
Dickson, Murray. Where There Is No Dentist. Berkeley , CA : Hesperian, 1983.
Forgey, William W., M.D. Wilderness Medicine, 5th Edition. Guilford , CT : The Globe Pequot Press, 2000.
Nato Handbook. Emergency War Surgery. El Dorado , AR : Desert Publications, 1988.
Werner, David et al. Where There Is No Doctor, revised edition. Berkeley , CA : Hesperian, 1992.

Peak Oil
Simmons, Matthew R. Twilight in the Desert. Hoboken , NJ : John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005.
Tertzakian, Peter. A Thousand Barrels A Second. New York : McGraw-Hill, 2006.

Weapons and Combat
Ayoob, Massad. The Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery 6th Edition. Iola , WI : F + W Publications, 2007.
Clausewitz, Carl Von. On War. London : Penguin Books, 1968.
Cooper, Jeff. Principles of Personal Defense. Boulder , CO : Paladin Press, 2006.
________. To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth. Boulder , CO : Paladin Press, 1998.
Party, Boston T. Boston’s Gun Bible. Ignacio , CO : Javelin Press, 2002.
Perkins, John et al. Attack Proof. Champaign , IL : Human Kinetics, 2000.
Plaster, Maj. John L., USAR (Ret.). The Ultimate Sniper. Boulder , CO : Paladin Press, 2006.
United States Marine Corps. Essential Subjects. Arlington , VA : Marine Corps Institute, 1986.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mr. Rawles;

I really enjoyed your novel ["Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse".] It was great, and I was amazed at the quantity of useful facts that you squeezed into a piece of fiction. I've read it three time and have given away a copies to a couple of my friends and to my dad. It helped him extract his head from the sand. For that alone, I am very grateful.

What other "survival" fiction do you recommend that has any real educational value? (Not just motivational or "what if" situations.) Are there any novels like yours, or perhaps some movies that are "musts"? Thanks, - Ken H., in Cleveland, Ohio

JWR Replies: I enjoyed reading all of the following novels:

Lucifer's Hammer, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (Classic nuke scenario)
Pulling Through by Dean Ing (a more modern nuke scenario + a mini nuke survival manual) Not to be confused with my screenplay that has the same title.
Some Will Not Die by Algis Budrys (Plague total wipe out scenario)
No Blade of Grass by John Christopher (Massive crop disease/social breakdown scenario, from the British perspective.)
Vandenberg by Oliver Lange (Invasion scenario) later republished under the title “Defiance”.
The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
Last of the Breed by Louis L’amour

For my movie recommendations, scroll down near the bottom of the SurvivalBlog Bookshelf page. OBTW, if you enjoy movies with survival themes, then you will like reading my "Pulling Through" screenplay (available--at least for now--for free download.)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mr. Rawles,
As you seem to enjoy a bit of fiction with your survival preparedness I thought you would be interested to know that Cormac McCarthy’s best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "The Road", is being made into a Hollywood movie. While certainly not the world's greatest survival fiction it isn't a bad morality play of the mindset required to survive a pervasive society ending disaster.
The movie is set to release in November by John Hillcoat and star Viggo Mortenson, Robert Duvall and Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce and 12-year-old Kodi Smit McPhee.
It could be good but the sheeple will no more go see this than they will the survival movie, "Blindness". - Neal

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hi James,
I'm new to reading SurvivalBlog and pages like it. A year ago, I wrote off survivalists, thinking there was no real chance of any kind of collapse. I've been changing my mind, though, and would like to know more about why you think such a thing is likely enough to prepare for. I haven't read "Patriots", but I've added it to my list.

I don't want to believe in a coming collapse. There have been depressions before, and the fall of civilizations, but as far as I can tell, nothing on the scale of what you seem to talk about. Do you have any good historical examples I could look into? Has this sort of thing happened before?

Also, I think that you believe in this because it suits you. I know you don't like the kind of power the government has over people, and it seems to me to be wishful thinking that things would happen in a way that makes that government unable to exercise that kind of power anymore. Or maybe it suits your because a collapse would be concrete proof that big government really is unsustainable. Believing in a coming collapse doesn't suit me, though. I kind of like having my garbage picked up, and police and fire service.

Even though I don't want to believe it, I'm starting to. Peak Oil seems real, and so much relies on oil. The economy and the currency do seem to be a house of cards after all. But I'm not quite convinced. I still think the odds are overwhelming that we'll come out okay.

So what should I do? Just read your book? Your blog talks a lot about what to do, but seems fuzzy on why it should be done. Once I really do think there's a chance of a collapse, I'm sure I can find a lot of information on your blog on how to prepare. I'm just not quite convinced yet. - Robert C.

JWR Replies: Societal collapse is captivating to write about and to discuss, but keep in mind that there is just a very small chance of it occurring in our lifetimes. An economic depression (a la the 1930s) is far more likely--and in fact at present seems almost imminent. This highlights what makes SurvivalBlog such a crucial resource and such a great gathering place for passionate yet polite discussion: By preparing for a "worst case", SurvivalBlog readers can take anything lesser in stride. It is no wonder that SurvivalBlog has become the Internet's most popular blog on survival and preparedness topics.

Economic collapses do indeed have historical precedents. Just listen to this audio clip by archaeologist Dr. Joseph A. Tainter on the history of economic collapses. At one time shepherds grazed their flocks in the ruined streets of Rome. That qualifies as genuine TEOTWAWKI, and the same could happen again.

I hope that you enjoy reading my novel. Just keep in mind that it portrays circumstances that are far worse than I actually anticipate (at least with any with likelihood). This was done in part to make the story more dramatic, and as an excuse to educate my readers about a variety of key technologies, techniques, and tactics.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

We've tallied the 75+ reader responses to our recent poll on your favorite music with a survival or preparedness theme. Based on the responses, I can see that a large number of our readers are rock-'n-roll fans. The Top 10 tunes mentioned were (in descending order of popularity):

1.) "Silent Running", by Mike and The Mechanics

2.) "Its The End Of The World As We Know It", by R.E.M.

3.) "A Country Boy Can Survive" by Hank Williams, Jr.

4.) "Eve of Destruction" by Barry McGuire (Buffalo Springfield 's rendition of the same song was also mentioned.)

5.) "Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult

6.) "Riding the Storm Out" by REO Speedwagon

7.) "Bad Moon Rising" by Credence Clearwater Revival

8.) "Lawyers, Guns and Money" by Warren Zevon

9.) "The Man Comes Around" by Johnny Cash

10.) "We Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who

Other songs not in the top 10, but still mentioned by more than one reader included: "I Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty, "Thank God for the Renegades" by Steve Vaus, "Everybody Knows" by Leonard Cohen (a cover by The Duhks was also mentioned), "Going by the Book", by Johnny Cash, "Political Science" by Randy Newman, "Copperhead Road" by Steve Earl, "March of Cambreadth" by Heather McDonald, and "You Do Your Thing" by Montgomery Gentry.

Just to cheer you up after all this Gloom und Doom, listen to this song that was mentioned by three SurvivalBlog readers: "Are the Good Times Really Over for Good?", by Merle Haggard.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Mr. Rawles,
I have been working on a retreat that I will be moving to later in the year. Naturally, construction is taking up a large amount of my time. My family is on-board for the retreat.

I need help in the area of an Operations and Security Manual. Is there anything that you know of that would be a starting place rather than from the ground up? I know there are a lot of things that I would miss out on if I started [by myself] from the ground up, and not know it until it's too late. I purchased the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course and I would have missed the boat on food storage if I did not have that as a reference.

Any direction would be appreciated. Thank you, - Craig in Arkansas

JWR Replies: I can't recommend a stand-alone reference, but I can recommend an abbreviated version of the list of "musts" for your retreat bookshelf::

  • The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. Sasquatch Books. (Get the Ninth or later edition.) This book is 845 pages of valuable 'how to' country survival knowledge.
  • Nuclear War Survival Skills, by Cresson H. Kearney
  • American Red Cross First Aid
  • Where There is No Doctor, by David Werner
  • Where There is No Dentist, by Murray Dickson
  • Emergency War Surgery (NATO handbook) Dr. Martin Fackler, et al.
  • The Ultimate Sniper, by Maj. John L. Plaster

And, at the risk of sounding self-serving, I also recommend my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". It provide a detailed description of what might be needed to secure and operate a self-sufficient rural retreat in a protracted societal collapse.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

In recent months, as he described America's incipient economic peril, Jim Rawles has made references in to "The Mother of All Bailouts." To illustrate the extent of the disaster that is awaiting us--I'd like to introduce you to the entire Economic Collapse Family's cast of characters. This family is so large that I'll use numerous analogies and, with apologies, some mixed metaphors. To include the full Dramatis Personae I'll have to borrow from both The Addams Family, and The Munsters. My apologies to anyone that never saw these two TV shows from the 1960s. This will seem like gibberish to you. And if you hate allegorical pieces, just skip reading this. - Will in Wyoming

You are Pugsley Addams. (The American citizenry.) You are a content, pampered, over-fed child. You have indulging but perverse parents. They let you eat all the junk food you'd like (consumerism), and they let you watch as much television (the mass media) as you'd like, to keep you occupied. Their only demand is that you "do your chores" (pay taxes.) You live in a strange sprawling old mansion with extensive grounds and horse stables (America). The mansion doesn't look like it has been painted or repaired in decades. (Crumbling infrastructure.) You are young and naive, so you don't really understand all that is going on around you. But you have had a vaguely uneasy feeling for as long as you can remember. You certainly have a lot of strange relatives.

Your father, Gomez Addams, is a banker. (The Federal Reserve.) He always wears a dark suits and he keeps a pocketful of cigars (call loans) handy. Oddly, they are lit, even as he pulls them out of his pocket. On his time off, he likes to play with an elaborate electric toy train set (the economy) with you. It is one of those father and son bonding opportunities. He is always at the controls of the the train. (The train set was very expensive, so you can only watch.) Whenever he sees trouble ahead, instead of hitting the brakes, he takes a puff on his big cigar, and opens the throttle (liquidity) wide open. After all, he has always enjoyed seeing a nice train derailment. Gomez is madly in love with his wife. They are inseparable. (The Federal Reserve's monopolistic cartel relationship with the US government.)

Your mother, Morticia Addams, is also known as the Mother of All Bailouts. She (the US government) is supported by her husband Gomez, the banker. She makes any problems go away by throwing money at them. Oddly, she always wears black (debt), but it matches her long black hair (the budget deficit). Morticia has a timeless beauty, but you wonder what potions she takes to maintain that beauty. Morticia's hobby is growing carnivorous plants (stocks and stock mutual funds) that have insatiable appetites. She has an unlimited supply of cash because of her brother, Uncle Fester.

Uncle Fester (the US Treasury) is an inventor of sorts, always experimenting with new things up in the attic. Years ago has invented a nifty high speed printing press, on which he can produce as many $100 bills as he wants. He also has a spare set of plates to produce $100,000 bills.

Lurch. He is the lugubrious house butler (the police). Lurch is seven feet tall and very strong. He obeys the orders of your mother and father without question. Whenever there are any difficulties, you mother and father can ring a bell, and Lurch comes immediately to solve the problem. Whenever he enters the room, he asks in a very deep voice "You rang?"

Cousin Itt. (Social unrest.) Your mom and dad have always given Lurch instructions to keep Cousin Itt locked up in the basement. They've warned Lurch that whenever "Itt" gets loose, he starts breaking things. But luckily "Itt" rarely gets out, and for not very long. Without fail, Lurch catches Cousin Itt, and locks him up again. But a lot of your mom's fine china gets broken each time. She gets angry, but she just takes some of the money from Uncle Fester's printing press and buys new dishes from the store. You've notice that the new dishes are all marked "Made in China."

Thing. Even more scary than Cousin Itt is the disembodied hand creature called "Thing". (The US military, warfare.) Thing is powerful, and also breaks some china, but thankfully that is usually in other people's houses.

Some of your cousins are The Munsters. They live in a big house of their own (much older than your family's), that is called Europe. They drive a very stylish car. (The Munsters have a great sense of design and style.) Their daughter, Marilyn, is a real babe. She could get work as a model at a Paris fashion show. Her little brother is your cousin, Eddie Munster. He is cool and likes a lot of the same games and TV shows that you do. Their Grandpa (the European Central Bank) is a strange old man that is sort of like Uncle Fester. (He is also in inventor.)

Your mom once said that the Addams Family and the Munsters are very closely related. She mentioned something about some cousins marrying each other, but never gave you the details. The Munsters always seem to be getting in fights with their neighbors, so occasionally your family has to send Thing over to the Munster's house and restore order.

Thankfully, circumstances are different in your neighborhood. For as long as you can remember, the Addams Family has had peaceful relations with all of your nearby neighbors (Mexico and Canada), mainly because they are all afraid of your dad's creepy mansion and all of his money. Starting about 30 years ago, one of your neighbors sent a maid named Maria (uncontrolled American immigration) to help out with the chores at the Addams mansion. You realize that Maria has been having a lot of babies up in her room, but they are quiet, so nobody worries about them.

The Latest Episode:

Your dad dashes into the TV Room. You have been distracted there (with the newer, big screen television with all the extra channels), so you didn't notice the changes in your dad's toy train set up. Your dad excitedly tells you "Come to the parlor, son, to see the upgrades that I've made to the train!" Among other things, you see that he has switched from the old low-current transformer (precious metals backed currency) to a new, high-current transformer (fiat currency.) This new train set is swell. It isn't just an old steam locomotive. This one is a shiny streamlined Zephyr. It is very fast. (The post-Greenspan low interest rate economic boom.) Uncle Fester helped design and build it. Instead of just an old fashioned derailment, your dad says that he has a dramatic ending planned, using the "The D Word." He calls them derivatives, but you recognizes those bundles: They are bundled sticks of dynamite.

"Watch this, son!" The toy train goes speeding down the track, faster and faster. It is barely staying on the tracks. Your mother and Uncles Fester clap their hands in delight. Lurch just stands off to the side patiently, but he moans "Uggggghh" to himself and he rolls his eyes. The expression on his face reveals that he knows that there will soon be a big mess that he will have to clean up. The train passes over the trestle, and just at the precise moment, your dad shoves down the lever on the blasting machine, setting off "The D Word" in a tremendously loud explosion. Things go flying everywhere. Your ears are ringing. There are huge clouds of acrid smoke. Windows, china, light bulbs, and even the big screen television are broken. You father comments drolly: "I guess that I used a bit too much of the D Word."

Cousin Itt hears the commotion and breaks out of the basement. Lurch chases after him, but Cousin Itt is wild and uncontrollable. He breaks a lot of china. Meanwhile, Maria's children--it turns out there 27 of them (who knew?)--come running out of their room, shouting. They join Cousin Itt in an orgy of breaking china, tearing the copper wiring out of the walls, and eating up all of the food in the house. It is absolute pandemonium. Lurch can't control the situation. Cousin Itt and Maria's kids slip from his grasp and continue wrecking things. There are too many of them. Sadly, "Thing" is no help, because he is currently off working at some other's peoples house, down the street (Iraq). All of the gadgets in the house seems to be broken beyond repair, except that you still hear Uncle Fester's printing press running upstairs. (It is reassuring to know that something still works.)

Amidst this confusion, you hear your dad shout at your mom: "Call the Munsters for help!" Your mom objects. "But Gomez!", she sobs, "The Munsters already have a first and second mortgage on the mansion. This time they'll demand that we sign over the title o the house and they'll take Uncle Fester's printing press. They'll even send their own maid, cook, and butler to run our house!" You don't like the sound of that, because you know that the Munster's butler has a big mean German Shepherd (the United Nations) and their maid Sharia (uncontrolled European immigration) is very scary and speaks a foreign language. You were told that she was originally from North Africa. (But, like Maria, your cousins hired Sharia because she works for practically nothing. And, coincidentally, you've heard that Sharia is also having a lot of kids.)

You dad motions you outside. "Let's have a talk, son." The sun is setting. In the distance, your hear some nervous whinnying and stomping of the Four Horses out in the stable. Clearly, they have been agitated by the explosion and the continuing sounds of chaos in the house, and you wonder if they are going to get loose. Your dad sits you down and he nervously pulls out another lit cigar. Finally, the truth comes out. "Pugsley, it is time that I told you the truth: Your mother and I are are immortals. We've owned this mansion for more than 230 years. Nothing can ever kill us." He goes on with some details, explaining that as their children have grown up, they just keep raising new ones, to do the chores. Your father also admits that this latest train wreck (economic depression) is one of many that he has orchestrated over the years. He begins proudly, "Son, some of my best train wrecks were in 1819, 1837, 1857 and 1929." After a pause, he adds, more soberly, "Up until this last one, I've always used just the throttle and run the train off the tracks. But this time I made the mistake of using the D Word, and frankly I'm not sure if I can ever fix the train set." Over in the house, you hear the sounds of Cousin Itt chasing chaos continuing. It is starting to get dark, and the lights in the house aren't working. You realize will be a very long night, without television! - Will in Wyoming

Monday, January 14, 2008

I just finished reading my review copy of Michael Z. Williamson's latest science fiction novel "Better to Beg Forgiveness". This fast-paced novel is set a couple of centuries in the future and follows the adventures of a band of mercenaries sent to guard a national president on a war-torn backwater colony planet. The story has some obvious analogies to the current use of "contractors" in Iraq. And it is obvious that in creating the fictional "Ripple Creek" off-world mercenary company, Williamson drew heavily on the real-life experiences of a few Blackwater types in researching this story. This adds an unmistakable air of realism to a fictional tale, making it quite fun to read.

I must admit that my reading of the book was sporadic--not because of any fault of the novel but rather because of the interruptions of elk and deer hunting season, and then holiday travel. But the recent heavy snowfall here at the ranch curtailed most of my outdoor chores and got me into into one of those cozy-by-the-woodstove book reading moods, so I was finally able to finish it.

"Better to Beg Forgiveness" is a well-told tale. It has plenty of the elements that Williamson fans love: action, great technical detail, believable characters, accurate tactics, vivid imagery of distant worlds, and some compellingly deep drama. Mike Williamson is prior military service, and his experience definitely shows. Unlike most of the schlock military science fiction genre novels that crowd the market, Mike's books are technically and tactically correct. That is a real rarity!

Without spoiling the plot, I can safely say that the story has plenty of interesting turns. Williamson is well-versed at weaving technical details into a story without bogging it down. (As a fellow novelist, I can assure you this is very difficult.) He is also a master at blending, action, drama, and character conflicts. In this particular story, he describes inter-agency, and inter-governmental conflicts exceptionally well, without making the story drag. Again, this adds texture and realism to the tale. In all, I thought that the storyline was plausible, the characters were believable, and the action was compelling. This is a book that is well worth reading. Just one proviso: because of some adult situations and copious battlefield violence this book is definitely not for children!

I got my review copy early, but I've noticed that "Better to Beg Forgiveness" is now available from

Friday, January 11, 2008

The new science fiction television show "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" will premiere in the US on Sunday (January 13, 2008) at 8 p.m. (and will be repeated the following evening.) Thenceforth, it will air on Mondays at 9 PM.
I watched an early reviewers' edit of the pilot episode, and I was impressed--particularly with the special effects. Oddly, I found the Terminatrix "Cameron" played by Summer Glau more captivating that the lead characters--Sarah Connor and her son John. (You may remember Summer Glau as "River Tam" from the short-lived but highly-acclaimed "Firefly" television series and its spin-off "Serenity" movie.) I also thought that Richard T. Jones --who plays the FBI agent "Ellison" did a great job. In my opinion Jones absolutely nailed it with his delivery of his "Its the robots!" explanatory monologue. (The character name is doubtless an homage to sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison.)

All in all, the shows has a great cast. I hope that the script writing holds up as the series progresses. (Hopefully it won't degenerate into one Terminator peril/chase and McGyvered escape after another.) I have hopes that this series (along with "Jericho"), will in some small way help get people to "think outside the box" about the fragility of our modern society and motivate them to prepare for more inimical times. But perhaps I'm putting too much faith in the "bread and circuses" TV-viewing crowd. OBTW, for anyone that wants to chat about either series, there is both a The Sarah Connor Chronicles Yahoo Discussion Group and a Jericho Yahoo Discussion Group. Both of these are edited by a SurvivalBlog reader. Also BTW, I should mention that "Jericho" will return to the small screen on Tuesday, February 12th.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Mr. Rawles,
I thought you might be interested in an early preview of "The Last Centurion" a novel about the world after an Avian Flu pandemic. The Author is John Ringo - who writes military and sci-fi - and often combines the two. The language is coarse, and it is written in a blog style, but it has some great observations about society, politicians, money supply and what happens in a real disaster.
You can find the early release chapters online.

It really gets good in chapter 5 and 6 talking about the responses to the outbreak and how some groups/cultures of people just think different - and therefore have different reactions as the government tries to respond. All the best, - Clarke

Sunday, December 23, 2007

My wife and I saw I Am Legend last night at the local theatre. The movie house was packed. Almost every seat was filled. Of the most interest was the end. As the movie faded to black and credits rolled, there were more than several spontaneous bursts of applause throughout the audience and a few cheers. Wow! The last movie that I remember ever getting applause was the last "Star Wars" installment. Something really hit deep with many in the audience…

My wife was weird’ed out by the zombies though, as they were quite scary. So viewer beware.

As for the movie, I enjoyed it, albeit the zombies are a far stretch to the imagination, the premise is not! (a viral cancer cure with unintended consequences) The self-sufficient [aspects of] survivalism were pretty close to reality (Honda generators, large stores of supplies), although preparedness was not advocated. He just rounded up (looted) whatever he needed during the day[light hours.] The desperation of loneliness was also driven home well. And although he had a very nice AR-15 rifle (my survivalist choice, although I do own a SA-58 FAL [clone]), his hunting skills sucked: Like chasing deer through the city with a high-performance Mustang, etc. Good action, dumb logic!

Anyway, I thought you would be interested in hearing about the audience response from a liberal college town (University of Virginia at Charlottesville.). Regards, - Rmplstlskn

JWR Replies: Keep that .308 FAL. In my opinion, and as previously discussed at length in SurvivalBlog in most situations it is a much better choice than a .223 AR-15 or an M4gery.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [LDS or comminly called "The Mormons"]. I am also the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for my ward. As you know the leaders of the church constantly speak of preparedness. In April 2007 a talk was offered by Keith B McMullin in the Saturday evening session of conference titled "Lay Up in Store". This talk proclaimed again all the benefits of preparation.

While not every Latter-day Saint is fully prepared, a percentage somewhere in the mid-teens have done at least a 72-Hour Kit (Bug-out Bag). The Church's preparation web site was simplified as most were overwhelmed when trying to prioritize to prepare. The focus is now on a Three Month Supply of normal items

In support of this, the Church now offers [at cost] a Family Home Storage Starter Kit. Like everything we as the dominant two legged creatures on this orb learn..Food Storage and Preparedness is "line upon line and precept upon precept."

The following is quoted from the Provident Living web site:

"The family home storage starter kit may be used to teach family home storage principles and help individuals get started with longer-term food storage. The kit includes materials that teach the importance of a three-month food supply, water storage, and savings and 6 cans of longer-term food supply items.
The kit contains:
* All is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage pamphlet
* All is Safely Gathered In: Family Finances pamphlet
* All is Safely Gathered In: Basic Recipes pamphlet
* Financial reserve and drinking water teaching aids
* Two #10 cans of hard red winter wheat
* Two #10 cans of white rice
* One #10 can of pinto beans
* One #10 can of rolled oats
Available for shipping to United States addresses only.
Available from Church home storage centers in the Spring of 2008 with a savings in shipping and handling."

[end quote]
This kit is available for anyone--not exclusively for church members. Cheers, - Tim C.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

In the February 2008 issue of Soldier of Fortune magazine, Sylvester Stallone is interviewed in reference to his newest "Rambo" movie (scheduled for release on January 25th) which should shed some light on the ongoing persecution of the Karen [tribe] people by the Burmese government. He is quoted as follows:

I really want something heartfelt, that's about flesh and blood, and about how cruel man really is, if left alone.

I believe that we're not that far removed from being truly uncivilized. We say we're civilized, but it wouldn't take much, a breakdown in law enforcement, removal of the military, authority figures gone for a week. Then you'd see how we would band together in packs to survive.

We've sort of PC'd it out - oh, let's be more intellectual, let's debate issues, let's have forums - but if there was truly a situation where our system broke down completely, we'd revert."

Sly goes on to say later in the article, ":I may be accused of just pandering to violence. And I want to go on record and say that I only touch the surface of violence that the Burmese perpetrate against the Karen.

I don't show children being put head first into rice pounders and literally emulsified. Or a member of a family being forced to be cannibalized by other members of the family. Or a Karen having a child's head cut off and then the body being tied behind the father like a backpack and he has to wear it until it rots, twenty-four hours a day. That is sickness beyond sickness. Y'know, heads on spikes. Medieval."

Your book, "Patriots" included a scenario in which cannibals were encountered and dealt with appropriately and efficiently.

There are many of us who are honest, hard-working, God-fearing souls who would not sell our souls for thirty pieces of silver. However, we need to occasionally remind ourselves that evil walks among us and some who manage to suppress their dark tendencies may give in when our relative peace and imagined prosperity disappears. As the Boy Scouts say, "Be prepared".

I enjoy your web site and appreciate the effort and sacrifice that goes into keeping it relevant. I first started reading your blog several months ago and will join the "10 Cent Challenge" group next week - just in time for Christmas!

May God continue to bless you, your family, and your blog readers - even the tight ones who won't take up the 10 Cent Challenge. - SE Texas 5-0

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Dear Mr. Rawles:
I am a newly-minted reader and fan of SurvivalBlog. I stumbled upon [SurvivalBlog] by doing a web search on what turned out to be one of your "Quote of the Days" from [the late] Jeff Cooper. All that I can say is that I am mega-overwhelmed at what you and the readers have put on-line. I started out by going back through your current threads, and that seemed like a lot. But then I started clicking on the monthly archive links [in the right hand column] and then I started doing searched on particular topics. Wow! I am blown away. There is so much there. It is like a comprehensive encyclopedia on preparations for survival. Along with my research at other web sites about the present-day political and economic slide, now everything is starting to click. It all makes sense. We are living in a very fragile world and it would be insane not to prepare. I am starting to build my "list of lists." (Water is at the very top of my list. I'll be soon ordering a Big Berkey filter--no doubt it'll be from one of your advertisers.)

I have visited a lot of preparedness and survival sites. They all seem to either be amateurish or have big axes to grind. But yours is a breath of fresh air: No whacko rants, no diatribes, no flame wars, no "I think it could work this way" conjecture (that clown Dakin at the Bison Blog drives me crazy with his un-tested "this might work" ideas), no foul-mouth childishness, no political bickering, no racism, no anti-Semitism, none of that!

I also just read your "Pulling Through" movie script. They have got to make that into a movie! I just wish I knew where the Rawles Ranch was. I'd like to be your next door neighbor! I'm sure lots of other people would too, so I guess its a good thing that you keep your "Bat Cave" [location] a secret.

I heard about your site just before I started a week of vacation for Thanksgiving. Good timing! Otherwise I would have had to call in sick! I spent 10+ hours a day digging through the archives and taking notes. I have so much to do to get ready!

So again, thank you for putting this huge resource on the net for free! I'm heading out to the post office tomorrow to get a money order for a two year 10 Cent Challenge [subscription]. That's the least that I can do. (I'm doubtful that anyone that reads SurvivalBlog more than once a week could live with their guilty conscience for not doing the same.) I'm also going to order a copy of your prepper's course and your books.

God Bless You! - Aaron, "Somewhere East of the Rockies"

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hi Mr. Rawles,
Do you know if the Hollywood writers strike will effect the filming of the CBS television series Jericho? If the [spilt season] filming has been completed, I guess that maybe the strike could be the best thing for Jericho since it would be an all-new show in a lineup of [other shows that are] repeats. Regards, - Sam

JWR Replies: I haven't heard per se, but it is probably safe to assume that most of the Jericho scripts are written by Writer's Guild of America (WGA) members. I heard from Rourke--the moderator of the Jericho Discussion Group--that the seven episodes for 2008 are completed, so the writers strike should have no effect, at least for this season.

I agree that their mid-season starting date for the new episodes could give it a competitive edge.

Coincidentally, another show that is slated to start at mid-season is "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles". So perhaps both of these quasi-survivalist shows will benefit from the disruption in the regular television season.

According to published reports, "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" will premiere at 8 p.m. on January 14, 2008. It will be run on Monday nights.

"Jericho" will return to CBS in January, on a yet to be-announced premiere date. It is as yet uncertain if it will retain its 9 p.m. Friday slot in the new split season.

It bears mentioning that the previous writer's strike had a significant effect on the television industry. It was because of that strike that "reality" shows got their real start. (Since they are are only loosely scripted.) If the current strike goes on for more than just a few months I can foresee further changes in the industry. One such change might be the advent of direct viewer participation discussion and "adventure" television shows, via cell phone text messaging and the Internet. These would be analogous to on-line chat rooms and on-line role-playing games. Both would give viewers that are not yet web savvy a glimpse of what is going on in cyberspace.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

That night I left.
I had to abandon most of what I had acquired. I took all the baby clothes and formula I could manage. I grabbed the Dr. Seuss book. One bottle of whiskey would work as trade goods. I had the clothes on my back, extra underwear and shirt. The little remaining ID and a few cash cards would have to do me.
I was in quandary over the food. If I left it, it might be taken as a bribe, or used as evidence against me. If I burned it, it would be obvious. I couldn’t think of another way to get rid of most of it quickly. They might think it poisoned and avoid it. They might be angry that I hadn’t shared before. There was no good answer.
I left it. I closed the door softly and left it unlocked. The food would be useful, I hate wasting resources, and it wasn’t that big a clue. Besides, Mario and Becky deserved it. I turned and walked off, Chelsea tugging at my hair and quietly staring around at the scenery. She hadn’t been outside much; her world had been a four meter box. I’d have to remedy that.
I walked south and east. There was little in that direction, but less in any other at this point. It was slightly less chill. It seemed a warm front was moving in. I looked at the clouds, backlit by an early moon, and saw impending rain in them. Not good. I should have paid more attention to them before I left. On the other hand, I hadn’t had much choice.
Traffic was light. Apparently, cities not hit and farther suburban areas were resuming operation without too much hassle. They were busy enough straightening out their own problems to be able to provide only the barest help to survivors. Earth would be digging out the rubble for a year or more, and not worrying about anything else in the meantime. The UN Star Nations and the Colonial Alliance were grinding their political axes on the husk of Earth. We’d succeeded. Somehow, I still didn’t feel good about it. Perhaps if I knew how bad things were back on Grainne it would be different.
I watched the few cars drive by. None would stop to offer a ride, of course. It might prove dangerous. In the aftermath, they were cooperating with each other, but only close friends and neighbors warranted that help. Strangers were still a threat. Plus ça change.
I was not paying attention. I didn’t notice the police car pull up along the roadside. “Hey, buddy,” a voice called.
I snapped to attention, tried not to show any panic and said, “Y-yes?”
The cop was getting out of the car and asked, “Where you going?”
“Nowhere particular,” I said, and realized it was the wrong answer. Evasion wasn’t the way. “Eventually my folks’ place,” I said.
He looked at me. His driver sat and waited, not getting out yet. That was a good sign. Unconsciously, he heaved at his gunbelt, low on his soft belly. That wasn’t a bad sign; they all did that. “There’s a curfew of dark. Hadn’t you heard?”
I’d heard, but hadn’t seen it enforced. This looked bad. I felt everything around me, from slightly gusty wind to spongy ground to buildings too far away and too separated for cover. “Ah, I guess I forgot,” I said.
“Why are you out in the dark?” he asked, still probing.
“Dunno.” It was all I could think of. Playing stupid often works.
He shook his head, looking slightly bewildered. “Get in back,” he said, turning and opening the door. “We’ll take you to a shelter.”
I did not want to get in that car. I would be trapped and helpless. But if I didn’t, he’d know something was not right. It was almost certain he had an image of me on his gear. That image would go to everyone and might match up with a file from their patrol cameras.
“Wow, thanks,” I said, and stepped forward. There was nothing else to do at that point. I climbed in and sat down, awaiting the sting of a baton that never came. I awaited a high-speed drive to a building with more cops. That didn’t happen either. They actually took me to a shelter. It was set up in that local mall. An old department store had been converted and was lit up from within.
We arrived and he let me out again, then walked me to the door. “I’m fine, really,” I said.
“It’s no trouble,” he said. “I’m supposed to help people.” There was also a hint of “I’m not letting you sneak off again, you loon.” He figured the stress of the events had gotten to me, and he wasn’t far wrong. At least he left after opening the door for me. I’d have to check in then leave out the back in a hurry.
“Here y’ go,” he said to both me and a harried woman running the admissions desk. Then he was gone.
“Name?” she said. It was an actual desk. They had only a portable comm and one data line.
“Uh, Martin Lee,” I said.
“ID?” she asked.
“Broken,” I said. “I have a card, but no chip. Got to get it fixed.” I was still sizing up escape routes surreptitiously. Escaping here wouldn’t be the problem. Not being IDed for file would be.
“We’ve had some of those,” she said without suspicion. “What’s your daughter’s name?”
“Melanie,” I said. She was asleep on my shoulder by this time.
“All we’ve got is cots and soup,” she said, sounding apologetic.
“Oh, soup sounds so good,” I said, sounding relieved.
“Great. Well, Lara here will show you where to go,” she said. A teenage girl came around, all cheerful.
“Hi!” she said. “This way.”
She chattered as we walked. “That is such a cute little baby. Girl?”
“Yes,” I agreed. “About six months.”
“Good! She’ll be big before you know it.”
I said, “She’s getting heavy now,” while casually looking around. Large open area, lots of people on cots and occasional vids. Pillars. Several cops. I’d have to be subtle.
Giggling, she said, “Well, we’ll put you right here in the middle. If you need help, just let me know. I’m roving around helping.”
“Thanks,” I said. I tried to sound grateful.
I lay down and snuggled Chelsea, trying to act as if I was resting. Had Mario made that call yet? Would I get associated with the description? How would I get out of here?
A bathroom break seemed like a good idea. I stood and looked. None were immediately visible. “Restrooms?” I asked in the general direction of a family nearby. I shouldered my bag. I wasn’t leaving anything lying where it could be swiped.
“Up the escalator,” I was told. “Sucks.”
Nodding, I wandered that way and up. There were lots of side rooms and staff offices down here, but all were in use as nurseries or such. None of them appeared to have outside doors.
Near the escalators, I met Lara again, as she was coming the other way.
“Need a hand?” she asked.
“Just going to the restroom,” I said.
“Oh, okay. I can hold her for you. What’s her name?”
“Melanie,” I said. “I’ll be fine. Really. I hate putting her down.”
“Oh. Okay,” she said, looking crestfallen but not suspicious. “Well, let me know, huh?”
I turned and rode up, along with a couple of other people. Upstairs was about the same, but more open. There were lots of back passageways. I hit the stinking, overused restroom first, then started to patrol.
Yes, indeed. Lots of exits. All three roof hatches near the restrooms were locked with padlocks. I might be able to kick one open, especially Boosted, but where would I go? There were three other roof hatches at corners, behind “MAINTENANCE ONLY” doors. There was a service conveyor that went down at an angle. It was locked off. The warehouse areas were dark and guarded by cops. Without lights, they were deemed unsafe.
I wandered downstairs. I’d have to sneak out one of the two regular sets of doors. Easy enough. Fresh air or some other excuse should do it. I grabbed some soup as I passed, needing food.
I’d reached our cot and sat down, Chelsea starting to stir a little. I mixed her a bottle and sat back to consider. Then I stopped considering, because the choice was made for me.
A news load came on one of the channels, showing a flashing “TERRORIST ALERT” at the top of the screen. I couldn’t hear and tried to move closer, then realized that might not be too bright. I was just close enough to hear, “—suspected terrorist may be traveling with a baby. Everyone should be alert for a young Caucasian male adult with an infant—” The rest was lost in a stir of voices.
Sometimes, sheer gall is your best weapon. “H*ll, that description could be anyone!” I said aloud.
“Even you,” a man replied, looking levelly at me.
I replied, “Yeah. Even me. Watch it. I’ve got a loaded baby and I’m not afraid to use it!”
Laughs scattered across the area, including the man who’d been momentarily suspicious.
But it meant I’d have to stay here tonight. Leaving now would be a clear sign. I sighed. It would be a long night and I wouldn’t dare sleep.
I lay there under the lights, dreading every passage of the security, cops and staff. When would they swoop in like vultures and take me?
I knew they’d get me sooner or later. Every time a guard trudged by, staring at faces, I cringed inside. When would it happen?
As soon as it was light, I grabbed one of the offered breakfast pastries and checked out. “Leaving already?” The current staffer asked.
“Yeah, got to find my folks,” I told him, trying not to seem too eager.
“Was your stay okay?” he asked.
“Oh, sure. Warm, dry, fed. I can’t complain, can I?” I said.
“You’d be amazed how many do,” he said, shaking his head.
I muttered a goodbye over my shoulder and headed out.
It was another long march. I was getting used to them. But with Chelsea on my back, curled up deep in the new ruck, I had one less thing to worry about and her radiated heat was a comfort to me. The tools I had were wrapped in the ubiquitous blanket to hide my intentions, except the small shovel I carried through the straps.
Far south of the metroplex, I sought a cache that had been hidden for us when we were only in the prep stages. It would have more than I’d need for this problem. The trick was to get there.
Outside the cities, there are grids of roads, unlike back on Grainne where we have only a few. They’re paved too, rather than being fused. I found the mark I needed at the edge of the southernmost suburb of Preston. Now I would head four squares south and three east. 11,200 meters.
The dark was a comfort, as it closed out visibility. Operatives live by night. Of course, criminals do, too. I slipped down into weeds the three times vehicles came by. I might cadge a ride from one if I looked helpless enough, I also might be questioned or attacked. It was still chill; spring comes late to those latitudes, and the environment was still a mess. Every time I lay down, I could feel the cold seeping through the wet spots on knees and elbows and eventually chest. It didn’t matter. This trip here should set me up.
My ears were on automatic, picking up the occasional bird amid the rustling, sighing, whispering trees. What did the trees make of this? They had CO2, a cool environment, and were being left alone out here, but stripped to the ground in their few remaining camps in the cities. Above, or below all those natural sounds was the pervasive, muted and barely audible soft rumble of the city. Even this far out, the omnipresent reminder of humanity intruded. How could one live on a planet like this?
I was suddenly alert. Something was wrong, but what? Bird sounds stopped. Threat, but what and where? Footsteps in soft ground, behind and to the right. About fifty meters. Closing. Run, or engage? Engage. My brain, trained as a battle comm, sorted through what it needed almost without me thinking about it. The ripple of natural adrenalin was followed by the surge of Boost, and I turned with the short shovel in hand.
My attacker was surprised as I spun. He’d been sure he had the edge. The tape-wrapped chunk of cable in his hand made him a threat, not a supplicant, and I struck, the edge of the shovel batting his crude sap aside before shattering his right shoulder as I brought it down. “No!” he yelled in denial. Scream. He collapsed. Whimper. “Damn you, you shoulda been mine.” No hope of salvation in this piece of filth. Cock back for a lethal blow to the skull…
…turn and keep walking.
I couldn’t do it. He was no threat mentally or physically. He was a waste of my time and his death would serve no purpose.
Behind me, there were animal cries of pain. I was used to them by now. I kept walking. Shortly, I turned east.
From the mark I’d sought, I followed a buried hydrogen line by its markers for 150 meters. From that bend in the line, I continued ten more meters. It was a dangerous spot, so close to a farmer’s field, but northern wheat didn’t grow that deep. The harvest I sought was far below.
I dug. Digging is meditation for a soldier, because we do so much of it. I kept Chelsea in the ruck, and had it on the ground next to me, always at hand. I stopped periodically to refill her bottle, check her diaper and drink a few swallows myself. Then I returned to digging. The small shovel, E-tool really, made it slow work, as did the need to keep the fill pile low. I acquired blisters right through my gloves, but at least I was warm from the exertion.
Then she started fussing. Baby cries travel a long way, and I had to stop them. I picked her up and she clung like a monkey, heels and fingers clutching my jacket. She quieted down at once.
But I had no luck in giving her a bottle and putting her down. She wanted held. One cannot argue with an infant, they have no higher functions. I couldn’t have the noise. I had no way to sedate her and would be reluctant to do so anyway. So I turned the blanket into a sling and placed her under my right arm, a hindrance but not an incapacitance. I just hoped the digging wouldn’t take much longer.
Two meters should be my depth. I was at two meters. Nothing. I hoped I wouldn’t have to try again another night, or dig laterally. Perhaps additional soil had been laid above by the farm.
That was the case. At 220 centimeters, I struck crate. Eager now, frantic even, I cleared away one corner. There were stress lines that could be broken in an emergency. This was an emergency. I snapped off the corner.
Riches! I had more clothes. I had at least four IDs that would work passably. I had weapons. I looked longingly at a Merrill Model 17, the brand new 11 mm killer. Lovely, but a dead giveaway. My weapons were my wits, these mere tools. I left most of the tools where they were, except for a good folding knife. I took the clothes, the IDs and risked a double armful of battle rats. I took cashcards and credchips that matched the IDs. I wanted a standard military shelter, but that, too would reveal me if found. I settled for the plain but adequate inflatable civilian tent within. I abandoned the cheap backpack for a better grade of camper’s ruck. The whole process took minutes.
Then it was time to exfiltrate. I rigged fuses to a five kilo demolition block and shoved it far back into the case. I rigged fuses on three magburn incendiaries, the proprietary mix that was evolved to cut titanium struts, hardened concrete and weaken structural whisker composites. It had been so long since I worked with professional explosives, but my fingers were sure in trained muscle memory. Insert fuse to detonator, butt, crimp, insert, place. Rig a second detonator for every charge as a backup. Uncoil fuse. I couldn’t test burn the fuse, but it should be 300 seconds per meter. I’d have to rely on the estimate, and I’d need approximately twelve meters of fuse for each of eight detonators.
I climbed out, piled the dirt back in as fast as I could, using it as quick fill and not worrying about compaction. There was no visible fill pile to indicate anything, and hopefully no one would look for yet another few weeks. There was bare gray in the east when I finished. Looking around for observers and seeing none, I spoke aloud, the textvid safety formula now a ritual to remind me of who I was.
“I am ready to strike. The area is clear. Fire in the hole. Strike." As soon as I confirmed them burning, I pulled the igniters free with the tip of my knife. I scooped them up and wrapped them in a rag, still hot. Then I began walking.
An hour later, I was five squares east. I glanced at my watch. Right now. In that cache, the magburn was melting the unused explosives, the crate, the weapons and the ammo. The ammo would be sputtering as its matrix decayed in the heat. And right now, the explosives to the side would be blowing the molten pool into slag mixed with dirt. Should anyone find it, they’d assume it had been caused by a gas leak. The hydrogen utility would check, see it wasn’t their problem, and ignore it. If they recognized signs of explosives, they’d call in experts. After some days of checking, the experts might deduce it had been a cache. That would tell them there were infiltrators on Earth. Which they knew. Very careful checking might show the possibility that the cache had been used after the attack. That would tell them that at least one Operative might be alive. Which they knew. I reminded myself again that I was safe. Then I turned and kept walking.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Brad was driving his red pickup with Ranya snuggling against him as they crossed the five mile wide I-664 James River Bridge-Tunnel from Newport News. They covered in only a few minutes the same water which they had sailed upon yesterday at a tenth of their present speed. It was a little past four PM on the warm Sunday afternoon when they passed back onto the northern shore of Suffolk County, almost within sight of the burned ruins of the Edmonds house. Neither one of them spoke of it, although they both stared in that direction.
Driving down from Poquoson they had been listening to the news on AM talk radio. The latest shock to hit Tidewater was an accidental police shooting. Either Virginia Beach police or an FBI team—it wasn’t clear which—had shot a man in the head at a dramatic felony traffic stop. The man, whose identity had not been released yet, had been pulled over in his black full-sized pickup truck on Laskin Road, misidentified as a possible suspect in the shooting of Attorney General Sanderson.

Blocked in by their patrol cars and surrounded by uniformed police and undercover agents, the unlucky driver had been simultaneously ordered both to “freeze!” and to “get out!” of his truck. The man had slowly reached for his seat belt buckle to comply with the order to get out, and this had been seen as a “suspicious movement” by one of the police or undercover agents who had heard him ordered to freeze.
He had been shot in the face point blank through the windshield, with either a police or FBI assault rifle or submachine gun, that wasn’t determined yet. This had happened two hours ago in broad daylight, in front of numerous witnesses, some of whom were already angrily calling in to the radio talk shows. Apparently the police and FBI undercover agents had been seen whooping it up and “high-fiving” over the bleeding body of the man they had thought was the sniper. No firearms or weapons of any kind were recovered from his vehicle.

As they entered Suffolk they were in a grim mood, the magic of their afternoon aboard Guajira already shattered. The news of the man’s death hit Ranya with another spiritual hammer blow. She felt personally responsible, because instead of pursuing her for Sanderson’s murder, the police had killed an innocent person instead. Her stomach knot twisted another turn, but of course she couldn’t share this secret pain with Brad…

In a few minutes they would arrive back at Crosby’s Boatyard in Portsmouth, where she had left her Yamaha the day before, and then they’d return once again to Brad’s sailboat. She was looking forward to wrapping herself around the bike and snapping it into gear, using its clutch and throttle to fly over the highway at three digit speed. She hoped the wind blast and the onrushing pavement might clear her mind of its accumulation of guilt, pain and fear.

“I need to get gas,” Brad told her, and he pulled over onto the exit lane for Hoffler Boulevard. The exit ramp cut through a break in the wall of pines alongside the highway, then curved off out of sight to the right and sloped gently downward. “Oh cr*p, what’s this?” he said, braking quickly.

Ranya bolted upright and buckled her seatbelt. There was a police cruiser on the side of the ramp just beyond the trees, and a cop was standing in the middle holding up both hands, blocking Brad’s truck and two cars in front of him.

“Checkpoint!” Ranya said. “One of the FIST checkpoints, it’s got to be!” The FIST program, the brainchild of Virginia Attorney General Eric Sanderson, was intended to stop the transportation of illegal weapons. Sanderson had come down to Norfolk to announce and promote the program on Friday, he had been shot and killed Saturday morning, and Sunday afternoon they had driven straight into one of his FIST checkpoints. There just seemed to be no escaping his reach, she thought.

Thank God she’d left her Tennyson Champion .223 sniper pistol hidden back on Guajira! But she still had her father's gift to deal with: the new .45 pistol was in her fanny pack on the floor.
Hopefully they would be able to slide through the checkpoint unmolested. The police would readily verify that the pickup carried no long guns of any kind. On the other hand, Ranya was sure that if the pistol was found, its serial number would be called in to some national data base, and she would be taken aside and cross-examined closely. She would be questioned about the legal ownership of the gun, leading to more questions about her murdered father. She would be questioned about Brad, about their relationship, their destination, what they were doing together...
Maybe they would be questioned separately, and there was no way to know how such a split interrogation session would turn out. Should she admit to the police that she had the pistol if she was asked, or deny having a firearm in the car and hope it wasn't found in a search? Fear constricted her throat, instantly turning her mouth desert dry yet again. But at least she didn't have the Tennyson, that scoped .223 pistol would have linked her directly to Sanderson’s death as neatly as a signed confession.
She had to tell him she had the gun. While they had time, they had to quickly get their stories lined up together, in case they would be questioned apart.
“Brad, I'm sorry I didn't tell you, but I've got my .45 with me. What should we do?”
“Ahhhh...Cr*p. Okay, it should be all right. I think they’re just looking for rifles. I hope.”
“Me too.”

The exit ramp made a slight right then left “S” curve as it descended through brush down to Hoffler Boulevard. There were large stop signs on both sides at the end of the ramp at Hoffler, which passed under the I-664 overpass off to the left. Halfway down the ramp, parked along the right shoulder, there was another police car, then a line of eight or ten civilian cars and SUVs, then two more police cars. Orange traffic cones divided the wide asphalt ramp down the middle. Police and camouflage-clad soldiers were walking alongside the row of parked cars; some of the cars had open doors and trunks. A single slow-moving motorcyclist was being waved past the line of cars to proceed on his way, a fact which Ranya noted with great interest. Obviously, the police did not think a motorcyclist could be concealing a banned semi-auto or sniper rifle.

Two hundred yards away at the bottom of the ramp, parked off to the left in the weeds and facing uphill towards them, was a desert-painted Army humvee.
“Damn, look at that!” said Brad. “The humvee’s got a machine gun on it. I’ve never seen that before, not in America.”
“I’ve seen it up around DC sometimes, they put them near the Pentagon and Reagan National during security alerts. They were there all the time after 9-11.” A helmeted soldier’s head and torso was visible, sticking out of the humvee’s roof behind the pintle-mounted machine gun.

“They picked a perfect spot for a checkpoint. I didn’t see anything until it was too late,” said Brad.
“Yeah, they can be damned sneaky. I’ve seen them set up this way a few times when they’re searching for drugs. It’s just like a trap: by the time you see it, you're caught in it.”
“I wonder if they’re checking every car, or if they’re letting some pass around? I wonder if they’re going to hassle us?”
“A thirty year old white guy in a red pickup truck? What do you think Brad? They’re not looking for guys named Mohammed down here; they’re looking for guys named Bubba.”
“I guess we’ll find out in a minute.”

The young father in the white Ford Taurus, the second car from the front of the line, said, “No sir, I won’t open my trunk, not without a warrant, and I do not ‘consent’ to be searched.”
The even younger Virginia National Guard corporal standing outside his driver’s side window looked around, confused. This situation had not come up before. Could this guy just refuse? Was that allowed?
The holdout’s young blond wife said, “Martin, please, just do like he says. Don’t make trouble; the girls are frightened.”

“Honey, it’s the point of it. This is still America, and there’s still a Constitution.”
“Daddy, why are there soldiers here? Is there a war?” asked seven year old Danielle from the back seat. Her four year old sister Ashley, next to her in her booster seat, sucked her thumb, afraid without knowing why.
“No sweetie, there’s no war. The soldiers are helping the police to look for some bad men.”
“Criminals daddy?”
“That’s right sugar plum, criminals.”

Another man walked up to their window. Martin Powell could not tell if he was from the military or the police: he was dressed in black from his helmet to his boots, with no badge or insignia in sight. The man in black rapped on his driver’s side window with the steel muzzle tip of his black submachine gun. “Open up! Get out! Now!”

“Officer, do you have a warrant? What’s your ‘probable cause’ to search our car?” Martin Powell was trying very hard not to show the fear he felt, holding onto the wheel to keep his hands from visibly shaking. He hoped he did not sound as afraid as he felt. He remembered reading about the Eagle Scout in Maryland, who had his face shot off a few years ago by an FBI agent with an M-16 rifle, after a mistaken traffic stop. Powell had not yet heard about today’s accidental police shooting in Virginia Beach of the man in the black pickup truck. His wife could not stand listening to news talk radio and they played soft rock music CDs instead.
“My ‘probable cause’ is you’re an a**hole who refuses to give consent for a search, that’s what! Now get out! Out! Out!”

ATF Special Agent Alvin Bogart was having a bad day, and now he was angry enough to chew up barbed wire and spit out nails. He was angry because it was Sunday afternoon, and he was pulling the absolute sh*t duty of all time manning a FIST checkpoint, instead of kicking back on his recliner in his den, with a cold Budweiser in his hand, watching the Eagles play the Carolina Panthers. For this he had become a Federal Law Enforcement Agent?

He was angry because he was pulling his second consecutive day of twelve hour checkpoint shifts, which really meant a 14 hour work day, only with no overtime pay like the State Troopers were raking in. And worse, he knew that he had to do it again tomorrow and the next day and it looked like forever. If he had wanted to pull this kind of sh*t duty, he would have joined the Border Patrol like his brother Daryl!

He was angry because he had to walk around all day in full tactical gear in almost 90 degree heat, including his Kevlar helmet and black body armor, carrying his MP-5 as if they were expecting a head-on terrorist attack right here in Hicksville Suffolk Virginia! This had been at Sanderson’s direct orders. Sanderson, that preppie douche bag who was not even in his Federal chain of command. Sanderson, who had never sweated like a pig beneath heavy body armor and tactical gear on a hot day in his life. Just for this alone, Bogart was glad that Sanderson had had his head blown off on the golf course yesterday! But unfortunately, the FIST checkpoints had not died with the state Attorney General; instead they had been stepped up.
He was extremely angry because earlier today he’d heard through unofficial federal law enforcement back channels that a brother ATF agent had been killed in the line of duty last night, shot in the neck by some punk-a** redneck during a raid not three miles from here.

And now Alvin Bogart was positively livid because this curbside Allen Dershowitz in the old piece of sh*t Taurus wanted to give him a lecture on the 4th Amendment, consent searches, and probable cause! As if he needed to hear that sh*t! Like all ATF men, Alvin Bogart held a special burning hatred for “Constitution fanatics.”
“So, you refuse to give voluntary consent for a search of your vehicle, is that correct?” Bogart smiled pleasantly at the man in the car.
“Yes sir, that is correct. Under the 4th amendment of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution...” The driver’s side window was rolled halfway down. Turned slightly sideways, ATF Special Agent Alvin Bogart had casually slipped the small can of pepper spray from his tactical vest unnoticed, and then he snapped it up and sprayed Mr. Martin Powell, U.S. citizen and taxpayer, straight in his shocked face.
As Martin Powell screamed and dug at his eyes, Bogart snaked his arm down inside the half open window, grabbed the handle, and jerked open the door. As Powell’s wife and daughters screamed both in terror and from the effects of the pepper spray being released inside the car, Agent Bogart grabbed Powell by his hair and shirt and pulled him halfway out, until he snagged up on his seatbelt. Bogart unsnapped the belt, and then used both hands to jerk Powell all the way out onto the asphalt, where his head landed with a satisfying smack. Active duty Navy Lieutenant Commander Ira Jacobson was sitting in his mint-condition 1971 red Mustang Mach One just behind the Taurus. He was not in uniform, returning from a visit to his mother’s house in Alexandria. His ship, the Burke class destroyer Winston Churchill, was at the Norfolk Naval Base. He was the ship’s Operations Officer.

He had sat patiently in the line awaiting his turn, fully intending to cooperate. But seeing the black-uniformed policeman (if he was he a policeman, it was hard to tell) abuse the civilians in front of him was getting him steamed. When the black-clad policeman had maced the interior of the car Jacobson couldn’t believe it; he clearly heard a woman and children screaming!
When LCDR Jacobson saw the man in black pull the driver out of his car and slam his head down onto the ground, it was time to take action. LCDR Jacobson would have intervened automatically if he had seen a Chief Petty Officer abuse a junior sailor even half as severely; he’d write the Chief up for Captain’s Mast in a heartbeat! For assault! So Navy LCDR Ira Jacobson, not in uniform, stepped smartly out of his red Mustang. It was his nature and his training to take action; to render instant decisions and intervene in such a situation. LCDR Jacobson did not skate away or tap dance around when dealing with out-of-control junior personnel, and he did not shrink from his perceived duty today.

“ Just what the H*LL do you think you’re doing to that civilian?” he barked, using his strongest officer’s “command voice” to impose order and gain control of the situation.
ATF agent Alvin Bogart was kneeling on Martin Powell’s chest, one hand around his throat, getting ready to pepper spray him again with the other.
The other ATF agent was at the uphill end of the line of cars when he saw and heard the fracas. He was working with a State Trooper K-9 dog handler and his German shepherd, searching the trunk of a Volvo.

Six National Guardsmen and women and three other state troopers were spread out along the line of cars and past it in both directions, directing traffic and generally trying not to be jerks, avoiding actually searching the cars as much as possible. None of them wanted to be there. The two ATF agents were the gung-ho ones, pushing them to search more cars, to find contraband weapons.
None of the state troopers or soldiers was certain about what had happened in the white Taurus, to cause the driver to be pepper sprayed and pulled out, but they assumed an illegal weapon or maybe drugs had been spotted: after all, that’s what they were there for. Suddenly they saw a tall civilian with short black hair jump out of a red Mustang and go after ATF Special Agent Bogart, screaming something. Bogart’s ATF partner shouted, “Turn the dog loose!” to the K-9 handler. He immediately did as he was told, pulling the 100 pound beast back short on his leash, crouching down close to his canine partner to direct his attention, aiming the dog like a missile, and releasing him with the command “Hansie! Attack!”

The German shepherd cleared the thirty yards to Jacobson in a blur and knocked him down from behind, biting him viciously on the buttocks and in the groin area. Ira Jacobson screamed, Martin Powell was still screaming, and Powell’s wife and little girls in the car kept screaming as shocked state troopers and soldiers converged on the scene of the melee.
From Bogart’s first rap on Powell’s window, to the dog attacking LCDR Jacobson, only sixty seconds had passed, but they had been a long sixty seconds! The next sixty seconds were going to be far, far longer. Two cars behind Jacobson’s red Mustang, 83 year old Luke Tanner’s hands were locked in a death grip on the steering wheel of his cream-colored 1986 Cadillac Eldorado. His teeth were grinding, his breath was short and labored, his heart was racing, and his skin was so flushed that the liver spots on his bare arms were nearly invisible.

The last time that Luke Tanner had seen that black uniform and peculiar black coal-scuttle helmet in person had been six decades earlier. It had been in the Ardennes Forest in Belgium, trying to hold out against the 6th SS Panzer Army, during the defining days of his life in The Battle of the Bulge. Tanner had fought regular German Wehrmacht across France, and he’d fought the Waffen SS in Belgium, and he still held a burning hatred for them even six decades later.

But he had never imagined that he’d see the God damned black uniform of the SS here in America! Then he watched as a young man was pulled from his car by the storm trooper, and he saw his head bounce off the pavement, he heard a lady and children screaming, and his hand fell to the seat beside him.

He’d lost his wife Edna in 1997 after almost fifty years together. She had been dragged to her death alongside her own Buick, the victim of a botched carjacking in Richmond. After that, Luke Tanner always kept his old Government Model .45 caliber pistol under a folded newspaper on the seat beside him, with a round in the chamber. He didn't know what the particular legality of that was, and he didn't care: a man had a right to defend himself, law or no law. It was the very same .45 automatic he’d brought back on the hospital ship in 1945. Every year since then he had fired one box of ammunition through it at the National Guard Armory range where he knew people, then he cleaned it and reloaded it with fresh bullets. He’d never fired it in anger in over sixty years.

The last time Luke Tanner had fired a weapon at anything except paper targets had been around frozen Ettebruck, Belgium in 1944, and it had been at a God damned Nazi storm trooper in a black SS uniform!

Who could ever have dreamed that sixty years later, Nazi SS storm troopers dressed in black would be running loose right here in Virginia! Certainly not Luke Tanner. All those good men of the 28th Infantry Division had died in the Ardennes fighting the Nazis, and now here they were again, in the flesh!

Then a brave young fellow got out of a red Mustang in front of Luke and proceeded to give the SS Nazi h*ll for what he was doing to that man on the ground. Good for him! But an instant later a dog, a big German shepherd no less, had that fellow on the ground thrashing like a whirlwind and biting him to pieces, then more soldiers and police were hollering and screaming and running from all over!

Another of those black-uniformed Nazi SS storm troopers ran past Luke Tanner’s Cadillac and began kicking the man on the ground with his black boots, and that’s when Luke Tanner had seen enough! Too much! The 28th Infantry “Bloody Bucket” Division had not killed all those God damned Nazis in France and Belgium just so they could regroup here in America! He’d long ago seen far too many fine young Americans killed and crippled at the hands of the Nazis, way more than enough to last many lifetimes.

Luke Tanner had always considered every day since December 23rd of 1944 to be a Gift from God, a bonus day, springing from the pure dumb luck which had for unknowable reasons deserted so many better and more deserving young men than him. December 23rd of 1944 was the day that he earned a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, and a trip home all during one fire fight near frozen Ettebruck, Belgium.
He’d lost his left eye and part of his stomach over there, and more recently he’d lost his wife, and that was enough. To Luke Tanner, it was not going to be worth living in America another year, if the last vestige of freedom was going to be lost too. What had all those guys died for in France and Germany and all across the Pacific? What for? What for?

Somebody had to teach the youngsters how to fight Nazis, and Luke Tanner figured he knew about as well as anybody. There just weren’t many of his generation left, who’d had the good fortune to still be alive so many years after those bitter-cold never-forgotten days at the end of 1944. He wrapped his leathery old hand around his heavy slab-sided Colt .45, thumbed back the hammer, opened the door all the way, and stepped out into the sun.

The police and soldiers and Nazi SS storm troopers were all busy, focused on the tangle of confusion beside the white Ford when Luke Tanner walked up along the red Mustang, his .45 held down beside his right leg, hammer back, safety off, finger on the trigger. When he’d picked up that .45 and thumbed back the hammer, the last six decades cleanly disappeared. But no one paid any attention to the frail-looking old bald man with the thick black-framed glasses in the yellow short sleeve shirt. Not until he unexpectedly grabbed one of the Nazi SS storm troopers by his black shoulder strap.
ATF Special Agent Alvin Bogart spun part way around, saw yet another civilian interloper and yelled “Now what the h*ll do YOU want grandpa?”
Luke Tanner, chronological age 83, and the survivor of more than that number of deadly skirmishes and battles with Nazis as a much younger man, smiled unexpectedly and said, “I want to see you dead, Fritz!” He held Bogart off with his once-again strong left arm still gripping the black shoulder strap, quickly raised the .45 from behind his leg, and fired once.

The .45’s report was like a cannon, sending off shockwaves through the huddle of police and soldiers. Bogart was hit upward between the eyes. His Kevlar helmet contained his brains, but did not prevent a shower of blood and tissue from flying back out all over Tanner, making it appear that he had been shot himself. Then Bogart was down, dropped like a pole-axed steer, police were screaming “GUN!” and drawing their pistols, soldiers were trying to unsling their M-16s from their shoulders, and Tanner, still smiling, aimed again at the other Nazi SS storm trooper who now stood in wide-eyed mute amazement seven feet away. Tanner fired one-handed, aimed and fired again, as the ATF agent tried to turn away and raise his submachine gun (which was snagged on his chest sling) at the same time, then suddenly the second ATF agent went down, his wound unseen, acrid gun smoke bitter in everyone’s noses, all ears ringing from the .45’s steady barking in their midst.

The second BATF agent was still rolling away slowly as Tanner continued to fire at him on the ground, until his eight rounds were expended and the .45’s slide stayed locked to the rear. He was surrounded by police and soldiers who were all falling back away from him, some running, some seeking cover behind cars, but for the moment it was a “circular firing squad” with police and soldiers and civilians in their cars all around him, causing them all to hesitate, until finally a state trooper took careful aim with his service pistol and fired.

Tanner was hit several times and sat down hard, then fell onto his back staring up past the clouds, blinking at the sun, his empty .45 fallen from his hand at last. A soldier leaning over him heard the old man whisper: “I got ‘em Sarge, did you see me kill those Nazi bastards?” The young soldier could not see who the blood-covered old man was talking to, he could not see in himself Luke Tanner’s last platoon leader, Sergeant Alonso Delvecchio, who was killed in action on Christmas Day of 1944 by a Nazi sniper’s bullet. This was two days after Tanner got his “million dollar wounds” and was evacuated from the battlefield at last; to go home, to live, and to remember.By this point the soccer mom in the forest-green Ford Excursion SUV two cars behind the Cadillac had seen and heard too much, and finally her stunned brain somehow reconnected to her frozen limbs. She switched the ignition back on and in one fluid motion turned the wheel sharply to the left, threw the shifter into drive, and stomped hard on the gas pedal. Her giant SUV clipped the Toyota in front of her, spinning it sideways, ran straight over two National Guardsmen, crossed the exit ramp and headed down the brushy slope towards Hoffler Boulevard bouncing and picking up speed with every yard. The soccer mom’s mind was operating in an unfamiliar emergency crisis mode; she was on automatic heading for the safety of her three car garage like a crazed doe fleeing before a forest fire.

Down at the bottom of the ramp Private Hector Ramirez was still standing on the middle bolster seat of the Humvee, leaning back against the ring cut through the roof when everything went crazy up at the line of cars. When the shooting broke out, he had reflexively leaned forward and shouldered into his M-60 machine gun, sighting up the road, but could make no sense out of the “lucha libre,” or free-for-all fight.
Hours before, Private Ramirez had been content to accept the duty in the Humvee with the machine gun. For one thing, he remembered how to load and fire the M-60 from his active duty Army time, unlike most of his squad. But mainly he knew he had been given the machine gun duty because his English was very bad, muy malo. Terrible in fact, lo peor, the worst. Sgt. DuBois didn’t want him searching the cars with the policias and dealing with the public because he could not understand rapid southern dialect English; and he could not communicate well in English in any case.

Private Ramirez’ lack of English skill was understandable. After all, he had walked across the frontera Mexicana in central Arizona for the third and final time only a few years before. Then by the grace of all the saints, he had been granted ‘amnistia’ along with millions of his countrymen living in El Norte. A little later a cousin warned him that the amnistia might be taken away, but that there was a program where if he joined the gringo army, he would be guaranteed full gringo citizenship in only two years, and then he could bring up his mother and the rest of his family. And in fact, that is exactly what happened.
Gracias a Dios he had been given the answers to the tests before the Army boot camp, or he would have been rejected. But Ramirez more than made up for his lack of Ingles with an abundance of enthusiasm, always shouting “Sir Yes Sir!” in boot camp the loudest, whether he understood the question or not. His uniform was always perfect, he always had the fastest times on the runs, and his Sargentos had put him in front of the Compania to carry the flag. Army boot camp had been a high point of Hector Ramirez’ short life!
So he’d spent the day leaning against the hole in the roof of the humvee, sitting, standing and trying to stay awake, until all h*ll had suddenly and without warning broken loose, with people screaming, dogs barking, and now guns firing!

Hector yanked back on the cocking handle of his machine gun and got ready to fire, but was unable to find a target: all he saw were policias and soldados. Anyway, his orders were to just make a show, a demonstration he thought they had said, to be the “blocking force.” Ramirez understood “fuerza bloquear.” It meant that he must keep anyone from escaping from the checkpoint. He understood that mission well enough! This was something he had grown up seeing routinely as a small boy on the roads back in Chiapas. But today, although he had 200 cartuchos of ammunition in the green steel box next to his M-60, he had never expected to fire even one bullet of it!

Suddenly an enormous dark green truck roared out from the line of cars behind all the fighting and shooting, and drove straight over two of the members of Ramirez’ esquadra, smashing them! Then it drove faster and faster down the hill directly towards him! And he was the blocking force, to prevent the escape of the terroristas!
He sighted directly at the onrushing windshield and fired a prolonged burst, causing the truck’s windows to explode. The truck veered back toward the highway ramp, and it was still trying to escape as far as Ramirez could tell, so he followed it with his machine gun’s front sight, firing continuously until it crashed into a police car at the bottom of the line! But when Hector took his finger away from the trigger, the maldita machine gun continued to fire without a pause, as if it had a mind of its own, so he raised the barrel to fire safely up over the hill.

A hundred yards away, halfway up the exit ramp, Sergeant Ashante DuBois of the Virginia National Guard was crouching behind the trunk of the cream colored Cadillac, while down the hill Ramirez raked the line of cars with 7.62 caliber machine gun fire. The rounds snapped as they passed; with every fourth shot a red tracer flashed by. Then the windows in the Cadillac blew out, showering her with a thousand tiny glass fragments. The Mexican had obviously gone totally insane with panic!

Sergeant DuBois knew that it was up to her to protect the civilians still hiding in their cars the only way she knew how. She laid her M-16 rifle along the left rear trunk of the Caddy, pulled back the charging handle to chamber a round, aimed carefully at Ramirez and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. Sergeant DuBois turned the rifle on its side and looked at the selector switch, turned it to “semi,” and began to pepper Ramirez with fire as more 7.62mm tracer rounds cracked past her up the hillside and over the highway behind them.

Back up at the top of the ramp Brad and Ranya had watched events spiral out of control in disbelief, but when the M-60 on the humvee opened up on the big green SUV, and the tracer rounds started flying past, the policeman in front of them finally ran for cover behind his cruiser. Brad noticed he was a Suffolk cop, and not a state trooper like the rest of them doing the searches down the ramp. He threw his pickup into reverse and burned rubber fishtailing backwards up the ramp, then threw it into forward and took off down I-664.

In another sixty seconds they were a mile and a half away, and Brad took his foot off the gas pedal. There was no remaining sign of the inexplicable mayhem they had witnessed during those two mad minutes on the Hoffler Boulevard exit ramp, except for the adrenalin still pumping through their blood, and their intensely focused memories.

Monday, September 3, 2007

I have been a SurvivalBlog reader for nearly a year. It is my favorite blog, by far. I got a [voluntary] 10 Cent Challenge subscription after about the first month (and I'm about to renew). But it wasn't until last month that I got around to purchasing a copy of your novel ["Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse"]. I had been avoiding it because I'm not the sort that reads novels. They are mostly a waste of time. But I thought that I'd make an exception and get yours, since it had such a high rating on Amazon. It wasn't until I started reading it that I realized what the fuss was all about. I absolutely devoured your novel. I read it all in a 12 hour stretch. (Luckily, I started it on a Saturday morning, or else I would have been up reading all night.) It may sound like a old cliche, but I just could not put it down. Then I re-read parts of it on Sunday, and highlighted some sections with my Accent marker, and started taking notes. Since then, I've re-read the entire book twice.

All that say is Wow! Now I'm planning to take advantage of your sale and get two six packs of autographed books, for Christmas gifts for my family (including my head-thrust-firmly-in-sand uncle) and a few friends at work and at church. Thank you for writing your novel, and all that you do in sharing your preparedness knowledge on the SurvivalBlog.

That said, now for my question: Do really expect things to get as bad as you described in Patriots? I hope not, because if it happens that way, then I'm still quite under-prepared. Sincerely, - Thompson

JWR Replies: Thanks for your kind comments on SurvivalBlog and my novel.

In answer to your question: No, I don't expect things to get as bad as I described in "Patriots". It could happen. But frankly, the odds are that it won't be nearly so severe. I made the scenario in the novel a near "worst case" in order to make it more interesting reading, and as an opportunity to show the need for planning and preparedness in a variety of areas such as first aid, food storage, faith, self-defense, communications, et cetera. The Deep Drama was essentially an excuse to write about a lot of different tactics and technologies.And it does make for an exciting read.

The bottom line: If you prepare for the worst, you'll be able to take on any lesser challenges with relative ease, and have plenty of extra logistics to dispense charitably.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Geographically distinct units were formed from the Northwest Militia, as planned, late in the April of the fifth year. To avoid confusion amongst the local citizenry that they protected, they designated those at the original retreat as “Todd Gray’s Company” and those at Kevin Lendel’s house as “Michael Nelson’s Company.” The responsibility for patrolling was divided along a line east-west between the retreats.
Todd Gray’s Company was to patrol the northern half of the sector, while Michael Nelson’s Company patrolled the southern half. Separate CB channels were assigned to each Company for locals to use to contact either Company.

On the 5th of May, Mary was in the garden plot transplanting some young tomato plants that had been started in the greenhouse a few weeks earlier. As she was methodically digging holes for each of the plants, she heard a strange engine noise in the distance. Just moments after she first heard the noise, she was astonished to look up and see two light aircraft approaching from the south. She dropped her trowel, snatched up her AR-15, and ran to the house. By the time she was in the house, the Mallory Sonalerts were wailing, and everyone at the house was at their “stand-to” positions, scanning their assigned sectors of fire.
“Does anybody have any idea where those planes came from?” Mary asked. Sitting at the C.Q. desk, Jeff shrugged his shoulders, and reached over to turn off the “panic button”, silencing the piercing alarm.

The engine noise was clearly louder now. From the LP/OP, Terry called in on the TA-1: “They’re pusher prop jobs, twin seat, tandem style. It’s hard to tell, but it looks like there’s just one pilot in each. They’re definitely circling us. Everybody stay put.” The planes circled the house a second time, just a hundred yards above the ground.
From the front of the house, Todd declared: “Hey, wait a minute, it looks like they’re getting ready to land. Yep, they are landing down on the county road.” The two planes landed in rapid succession on the straight stretch of county road below the house. Todd was surprised by how short a distance it took for the planes to land and come to a full stop. The planes looked identical, except for their color. One was painted dark green. The other was tan. He heard their engines roar up in tempo as the planes turned and taxied back to the front gate. The planes came to a stop at the front gate, and their engines shut down.
Both pilots lifted their canopies and took off their headphones, almost in unison. Two figures, one tall and one short, hopped out of the planes, wearing BDUs and tan boots.
Todd shouted loud enough for everyone at the house to hear: “They are painted drab, but those sure don’t look military. Have any of you heard of anyone in the area that owns an ultralight?” There was no reply. Todd pondered for a moment. “Hey, you know, Dan told me that Ian Doyle was in an ultralight club.
I sure wish Fong was still here. He’s probably seen pictures of Ian’s plane. He said that it was a zippy little thing, and I think he said that it was a two-seater.”
“Who is this Ian fellow?,” Rose asked.
Mary answered, “An old college buddy of Todd and Dan’s. He has a wife and daughter. That might be him in one of those planes down on the road.”

Ten minutes later, after a cautious squad-sized approach by the bounding overwatch method, Todd and Ian Doyle were sharing hugs. “Wow! Long time no see. What brings you here?”
“It’s a long story, Todd. Suffice it to say that we left town in a hurry when a very large number of muy malo hombres took over. It was muy peligroso there. So we did some Van-dammage--just to whittle them down, you understand--and then we took off. It took a few inquiries in Bovill, but we found your place here easily enough.”
Todd took a long look at the plane behind Doyle, staring at just below the wing root, where it was stenciled EXPERIMENTAL. He said insistently, “You can tell me the whole story later. First tell me about these ultralights. They are really a sight to behold.”
Ian turned to caress the fuselage of the flat forest green-painted plane behind him. “To begin with, technically, they aren’t ultralights, although they use a lot of the same design features. Legally, these birds are classed as light experimentals. These birds are both Laron Star Streaks. I paid just under $30K for mine, when I picked it up new from the factory in Borger, Texas, back in ‘98. We towed it home in it’s trailer behind our Suburban. The Star Streak comes with a lot of standard goodies like dual controls, an ICOM radio, electric start, electric brakes, three position half span flaps, electric trim, and a pretty complete set of VFR instruments. I added a GPS navigation box and active noise reduction headphones to this one. It’s essentially a poor man’s general aviation plane, but legally it’s a light ‘experimental’. But it’s too heavy to be classed as an “ultralight” under the FAA regs.”
“With its enclosed canopy, it’s one of the best light experimentals for long range flying. In fact, one guy flew a similar model Laron from London to Beijing and wrote a book about it. As I’m sure you know, the main advantages of ultralights and light experimentals is that they are so thrifty on gas, and have a super short take-off roll--usually under 200 feet--and very low stall speeds. The Star Streak only weighs about 400 pounds, empty. The other neat thing about our Larons and most similar light experimentals and ultralights is that they are not restricted to av-gas. In ours here, for example, you can burn any grade of gas down to about 85 octane. If I adjusted the carb jets, I suppose they would even burn ethanol or methanol. Luckily, I haven’t had to try that yet.”
Doyle turned to the trim woman with an olive complexion standing beside him. She appeared to be around 35 years old. “I’m sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. This is my wife Blanca. I’ve written to you about her, but we haven’t seen each other face to face since college, so you’ve never had a chance to meet.”
The attractive woman in BDUs extended her hand, and Todd shook it firmly. Gray said quietly, “Encantado.” She replied in a soft accent, “A pleasure finally meeting you, Meester Gray.”
“As you probably recall from my e-mail, I met Blanca when I was stationed down in Hondo,” Doyle continued. “That was back in my ‘Terry and the Pirates’ days, when I was a lieutenant--not too long out of transition training. She was a civilian working in flight ops at Tegucigalpa. Blanca was already a qualified single engine pilot when I met her. Talk about love at first sight, eh conchita?” Blanca smiled and blushed, nodding her chin to her shoulder.
Gesturing to the other plane, Ian said, “We swapped for Blanca’s Laron just after the stock market tanked. I got it from an old fart civilian who was in the Phoenix Metro ultralight club. He bought this one as a kit. He said that it took him almost two years to build it in his spare time. He finished building it in ‘99. It had very low hours clocked on the engine. His was stored in the same style enclosed trailer that we had for mine. I traded him my Sten gun, a suppressor with nomex cover, a whole bunch of magazines, and 1,000 rounds of nine millimeter ball for it. Fair enough swap, I suppose, since unregistered and suppressed submachineguns don’t grow on trees. We could both see the handwriting on the wall by then. He knew what I needed, and I knew what he needed: I needed some more transportation, and he needed some more firepower. I asked him why he wasn’t planning to bail out of Phoenix. He said that his wife refused to budge an inch. They had their whole life wrapped up in their house. Since he was stuck there, he didn’t need the plane, but he certainly needed a serious self-defense gun.”
Doyle stepped toward the back of the fuselage, deftly ducking under the wing, and went on: “The Star Streaks cruise at just over 120 miles an hour at 80 percent power, which is pretty fast for a light experimental. Of course, that seems like crawling when you are used to wearing an F-16, but I like ‘em. The cockpit layout is even similar to a Falcon. Not exactly fly-by-wire controls, though. This model uses a 85 horse Hirth F-30 engine. It’s a great little plant. It just hums along and sips gas--only about five gallons an hour at 80% power. Both of these planes are identical except for the propellers. Mine uses a four blade composite, but the prop on Blanca’s is the older composite three blade. The Hirth is a powerful little engine. It will make the Larons climb at 2,500 feet per minute when it is in normal configuration with just one man on board, but of course a lot slower the way we have them loaded down right now. The planes have a rated useful load of 500 pounds. I’m afraid that we exceeded that limit when we took off from Prescott. Between the heavy load and the high elevation of the airport, our takeoff distances were outrageously long--at least, that is, for a light experimental. But luckily, we had a long straight stretch of road to take off from.”
Blanca looked around anxiously. “Ees there anywhere where we can put theeese birds where they whon’t get stolen?”
Mary answered, “We’ll put them both in the Andersen’s big hay barn, just down the road. It’s a nice dry barn. The wings should hopefully fit through the front. It was left open on that side to let the big New Holland harvester in. It’s a three-sided affair. The farm is deserted, and the barn is almost empty now. They gave us permission to use the place. Don’t worry--when the planes are pushed to the back of the barn, no one will see them there. And, as further insurance, it’s just within line of sight of our LP/OP, up on the hill.”
“Ell-Pee-Oh-Pee?”, Blanca asked, quizzically.
“Sorry, Blanca. I’m afraid that we are used to talking in ‘acronese’ around here, and not the Air Force acronym dialect you’re probably used to. LP/OP is a ground pounder acronym for listening post/observation post.” Pointing to the nearby hill, Mary explained, “Basically it’s a glorified hole in the ground. If you look very closely, you can see it up on the hill there. It has a good view of the area. It’s for observation in daylight, and for listening at night.”
Moving the planes into the barn took only a few minutes. They were able to taxi the planes under power to within 20 feet of the barn. From there, they were pushed in by hand. Going in, the planes’ 30 foot long wingspans cleared the entrance with just a foot to spare on each side. As they were pushing the first plane in, Mary asked, “How many gas cans have you got in there, and how far can you fly without refueling?”
Doyle pointed through the canopy at the rear seat area, and cited, “Originally, the Star Streaks only had a range of around 320 miles at 80% power. The main tank is 14 and-a-half gallons. But I added some big bladder tanks to both planes. They aren’t connected directly to the primary fuel system. I cheated and installed a couple of little Black and Decker Jackrabbit hand pumps along side the front seats, with extra long hoses. To transfer fuel from the bladder to the main tank, you just put the Jackrabbit in your lap and crank away. The bladder tanks extend our range to about 480 miles without landing to refuel, when we are at max takeoff weight. If we were in a light configuration, they could maybe even go 550 miles.”
Ian’s plane came to a rest with the tip of its nose less than a foot from the rear wall of the barn. He inched past the nose and walked around to the other side of the plane, talking as he walked. “They are both quite a bit lighter right now, since we have less gas and we had to barter some of our stuff for fuel.” He tapped on the Plexiglas with his index finger and said, “I have these five gallon gas cans strapped into the back seats of both birds, but they are nearly empty, too. Aside from some clothes, sleeping bags, tools, and aeronautical charts; most of the weight on board is fuel, oil, guns, ammo, water, and MREs. You know, just the essentials in life. At present we’re down to less than 8 gallons of fuel between the two planes...”
Mary interjected, “Don’t worry about that. We still have over four hundred gallons of stabilized unleaded premium in the tank here. It will only be good for another year or two, so we might as well use it up. I think that it’s 92 octane, but I’m not sure. I’ll have to ask Terry--she’s our logistics honcho. But she’s up at the LP/OP right now.”
After they had pushed the second plane in, Todd declared, “Don’t worry about all your gear, we’ll come down with the pickup truck later this afternoon and take it up to the house.”
Before they left the planes, Doyle used a socket wrench to remove the nose wheels from both planes, and buried them under some loose hay near the front of the big barn. “They won’t be going far without these,” he said. As they walked out of the barn, Ian slung his suppressed MAC-10 over his shoulder. Blanca did likewise with a stainless steel folding-stock Mini-14 GB. Todd was disappointed to see that they didn’t carry any extra magazines. He made a mental note to correct that glaring deficiency.
As they walked, Blanca was bemused at the way the militia members walked at 5 yard intervals. “Why are you walking so far apart?,” she asked with a laugh.
“Force of habit,” Mary explained. “In case of an ambush, you are at much greater risk if you are bunched together.”
They chatted amiably as they hiked back to the Gray’s house. Once they were inside, Rose served up an early lunch of raw carrots, apple slices spread with reconstituted peanut butter, and freshly baked bread. It was over lunch that Ian and Blanca started to recount their story. Mary set a TRC-500 to the “VOX” setting, so that Terry Layton, who was still up at the LP/OP, didn’t feel left out.
Munching on some bread, Ian began, “The 56th Fighter Wing had just started a rotation to Saudi. It was just two years before the Crash that we switched back from a tactical training wing to a tactical fighter wing. I came on board just a few months into the transition. Anyway, when all the trouble started, since I was the wing maintenance officer, I was stuck back at Luke, catching up on paperwork. I was also taking a idiotic mandatory ‘Diversity, Sensitivity, and Sexual Harassment’ class. The frickin’ class lasted a whole week. I had orders to catch up with the wing in late November. But then, when the riots got going in earnest, they planned an emergency redeployment of virtually all of the close air support aircraft in the Air Force inventory back to the States. Some weenie at the White House must have dreamed that one up. Our wing was going to deploy to Hurlburt Field, down in Florida. Criminy! Could you imagine F-16s and A-10s versus rioters? Talk about over-kill! I never heard what happened to our squadrons after that. I was too busy with problems of my own--like finding drinking water for Blanca and myself.”
“And your daughter?,” Mary asked.
Doyle’s face clouded with emotion. Stiffening, he replied, “Linda didn’t make it, ma’am. She died five years ago. She was in Detroit, doing her annual six week long ‘Grandmom and Grandpop’ visit with my folks. It was the first time that she was old enough to go on a commercial plane by herself. Blanca wanted to stay home to relax, do some pastels, and a bit of surfing the Internet. We were home-schooling her, so Linda wasn’t on a normal school year schedule. Blanca and Linda liked to go up to Michigan in the Fall. They get some nice Fall colors up there.”
Ian paused and looked at the ground. “By the time we realized the magnitude of the situation, most of the flights had been canceled, and the few that were still flying were booked solid. In retrospect, what I should have done was played “you bet your bars” and commandeered a D-model Falcon to zip up there to get her. Instead, I took the conservative route and just hoped that the riots wouldn’t last long or spread outside the downtown area of Detroit. I also figured that if worse came to worse, my dad’s gun collection could handle any rioters that came down their block. I was wrong. I got a call from one of their close neighbors who managed to make it out of Detroit alive. She said that looters got really pissed when my dad shot some of them. They torched my dad’s house. Killed them all. I still feel like such a fool. I could have saved my folks and my daughter’s life.”
Blanca squeezed Ian’s hand and said softly, “Don’t do thees, E-an. We can-no change history.”
Mary’s eyes were wet with tears. “I’m so sorry, Ian. I’m so sorry, Blanca. ”
Doyle shook his head from side to side and muttered, “Dwelling on it won’t do any good. In times like these, you just have to suck it up and drive on.”
Todd said a silent prayer. Then he looked up and asked, “So what happened to everybody at Luke?”
Doyle snapped out of his reverie and recounted, “To call it mass desertion would be to put it mildly. The mess halls only had limited food supplies, and we only had enough MREs on hand for short-term contingencies. I’m sure some of the overseas air bases had better stocks, but nobody ever expected a disruption of re-supply of food in CONUS! When it became clear that the food wasn’t going to last long, virtually everybody started to disappear. And when they went, they took a lot of equipment, fuel, and nearly every scrap of food on base with them. The Base Exchange, the commissary, and the mess halls were stripped clean. When I say everybody, I mean everybody. There wasn’t a soul from 56th Log or 56th Medical left on base. Even the whole Support Group basically vanished in about three days time. By the time I decided to pack it in, Luke was a ghost town. There were only seven pilots and about 20 ground crew guys left on the post. Most of them were young bachelors. By that point, I was the senior ranking officer on the base, so I could do pretty much anything I wanted. I was the de facto base commander. I just called a formation and released the remaining personnel on base on ‘indefinite leave.’
Unfortunately, my options were pretty limited. You see, there wasn’t a single aircraft left on the ramp, or a single military vehicle left on post. By then, there were just a few POVs. Even the fuel trucks had disappeared. Now you’ve got to understand that they had 217 birds on the property books, mainly F-16 Cs and D models. Of those, they were all either out on the Saudi Arabia rotation, or off on “emergency” flights that all mysteriously ended up being one-way missions. At least three F-16s, and the general staff Lear were out-and-out stolen. No flight plans were filed. The guys who took them just figured that they could get away with it. They just taxied out at O-dark-early and took off. And there was nobody left in the tower to say ‘boo’ about it. Those four had been the last airworthy planes on the base. The few planes that were left were just some stripped hangar queens.”
“After that ‘gentlemen, you are released’ speech, I spent the rest of that day looking for fuel containers. Every gas can available had already walked off base. The only good sized containers I could find were some hydraulic fluid drums. But I was afraid that the fluid left in them would contaminate the gas. So I ended up scrounging a bunch of empty 2 liter pop bottles from dumpsters around the BX. I drove home that evening with almost 140 gallons of av gas in the back of the Suburban. I never went back to Luke after that.
We were living off base in a rental flat-top in Buckeye. It’s basically a retirement community. When I got home, I talked things over with Blanca. We decided to hang tight for a few days. We packed up, but packed light. It was like one of those life boat games--’Now if you could only take five items, which five would they be?’ The end result was that Blanca and I had to leave a lot behind. We spent a lot of that time listening to the radio for reports on the rioting. Only a couple of AM stations were on the air by then, and the news they were handing out was pretty sketchy. None of it sounded good. They spent half the time repeating the same FEMA ‘Stay calm, remain in your homes, order will be restored shortly’ tape. What a pile of bull. The tape even recommend calling 911 if we saw any looting in progress. I laughed and said, ‘Oh yes sir, will do.’ The phones had all been dead for several days.”
“Our next-door neighbors had a police scanner. That was the best thing for monitoring where there was trouble happening. This was at the time when Phoenix and Tucson were burning down. Major chaos, let me tell ya. Once the looting started spreading out into the suburbs, we agreed that it would be bad news to stay in the Phoenix area much longer. Bright and early on a Tuesday morning, we wheeled the Larons out of their trailers, and bolted on the wings and tails, right there on our front lawn. It only took about fifteen minutes each to assemble and pre-flight them, since we’d had plenty of practice before, putting my bird together for weekend jaunts.”
“While we were loading our gear, most of the neighbors just stood there and gawked. A few helped out with the fueling process. We handed our next-door neighbors the keys and title to our Suburban, and the keys to the house. I told them that anything inside was free for the taking. By then, we knew that we weren’t ever coming back. Then we taxied off the lawn, down the driveway, and out the court. We hung a left, throttled up, and took off from Hastings Avenue. Some of the neighbors stood at the ends to block car traffic for us. Must have been quite a sight for the retirees. We flew from there straight to Prescott--that’s in northern Arizona. We planned to stay at my cousin’s place.”
“My cousin Alex was a senior salesman with J&G Sales, a big gun distributor up in Prescott. With that job, I figured that he would be pretty well squared away, at least in terms of guns and ammo to barter for anything he could possibly want. Prescott is partly a resort community, and kind of a haven for gun nuts. J&G was there, Ruger had a factory there, and there were lots of custom gun makers, barrel makers, and stock makers. One little outfit there made elephant guns on custom magnum Mauser actions before the Crash. Big .416 Rigbys and that sort of thing. The last I saw of them, they were still producing some smaller caliber long range guns in H-S Precision Kevlar-Graphite stocks. They sold them on a barter basis. Real tack drivers.”
“Prescott is not a big town, but it took us a while to locate Alex, since the phones were out there by that time, too. I hitched a ride from the airport, while Blanca stayed behind to guard the planes. From talking with Alex’s neighbors, we discovered that he had hired out as a security man for some Tucson banking fat-cats. They had a pretty elaborate hidey hole set up just north of Prescott. There were four families living at the compound. At first they didn’t want to take us in. Then they saw the firepower that we had with us, and they changed their minds. Officially, we were “security”, just like my cousin. We had it pretty soft there, compared to most folks. We had plenty of water, and enough food to get by. We were in no hurry to leave.”
“Things were pretty quiet there for four full years. A little local trouble, but nothing worth mentioning. Then we started hearing about this gang of escaped convicts and assorted riff-raff that was slowly working its way up from New Mexico. Refugees told us that it was originally two gangs that combined into one big super gang. They would hit a town, linger a week or two, strip it clean, and then move on to the next one. They were like a swarm of locusts. There were over 300 of them by the time they made it up to the Prescott area. Rumor had it that at least one of the two gangs had been doing this town-to-town hopping all the way from south Texas. By then they were getting pretty good at it.”
“I took a recon flight in my Star Streak down to Wickenburg when they hit there, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. They just swept through the town in one big mass of vehicles. Many of the houses were abandoned, ‘cause folks had heard they were coming and didn’t want to be around when they did. Basically, they burned down any house that anyone was shooting from. Then they went from house to house, taking anything of value. Even from the air, I could see them dragging some women out of houses and raping them on the sidewalks. We’re talking total scum of the Earth. It made me wish I was flying a fully armed Fighting Falcon instead of my little Laron. I could have really kicked some tail. These guys were absolute savages, Todd.” Doyle stopped for a few moments, and then added, “I got shot at some when I was on that flight, but I didn’t find any bullet holes in my bird when I got back.”
“Just three weeks ago, the gang was making their way up the Agua Fria, and hit the little town of Mayer. About 80 of us from town, mainly men, went on a little preemptive strike when we heard that the gang had moved into the town of Humboldt. Blanca, Alex, and I were all on the raiding party. We knew that Prescott would be next, because we were just 12 miles up the road. A Navajo kid about 13 years old, who escaped from Humboldt just after they arrived, gave us the layout. He even volunteered to go back in to town to scout which buildings the looters were in. That was a real help in planning the operation.”
“Our little raid didn’t have much in the way of military precision, but we sure did some damage. We knew that we couldn’t kill them all, so we decided that the thing to do was to concentrate on their vehicles, especially their armored cars and APCs. We hit them at just after three in the morning. Since we were all on foot or horseback the last two miles in, they didn’t know we were coming until we were already in their midst. They had the buildings that they were occupying lit up like Christmas trees. Our little Navajo scout had told us in advance which buildings they’d be in. We were only fully engaged for about five minutes. It was fast and furious, but like I said before, we did some serious Van-dammage.”
“In the first couple of minutes, we had the advantage, because most of the looters were asleep. They made me the point man, since I had the only suppressed weapon in the raiding party. When I shoot Winchester Q-Loads--those are special low velocity subsonic rounds--this thing doesn’t make much more noise than a loud hand clap.” Doyle held up the stubby Ingram M10 for a brief display, unscrewing the nomex-covered suppressor. “The term ‘silencer’ is really a misnomer. A ‘can’ like this is really just an elaborate sound muffler. Again, you can still hear the shot--sounds like a loud hand-clap. The normal sound is reduced so much that you can even hear the clack of the bolt going forward with each shot.”
Doyle screwed the suppressor back on the M10 and set it down on the window seat. “Sorry, I digress. Getting back to what happened in Humboldt... I got the chance to personally drop three of their sentries, shooting my MAC in the semi-auto mode. I don’t mind saying that it felt real good, after what I’d seen them do in Wickenburg. At first, we were the only ones shooting. Once the looters rolled out of bed and started shooting back, it was another story They had a lot of fully automatic weapons, grenades, and rocket launchers of some sort. They really started hosing us down. Before they did though, we had torched more than 40 vehicles with Molotov cocktails. Apparently, we got every one of their APCs and armored cars.”
“Our retreat out of Humboldt was let’s say ‘less than organized.’ Only 29 of us made it back to Prescott alive by noon. Two more guys straggled in the next evening. Of the 31 that made it back, only three had been wounded, and those were all minor grazing wounds. Oddly enough, all five of the men and women who were on horseback were among those to make it back without a scratch. Not even any of the horses were hit. Either they were real lucky, or cavalry is making a comeback. My cousin Alex never made it back from the Humboldt raid.” Ian skipped a beat, and then went on: “The looters didn’t show up the next day or even the day after. Blanca and I waited at the compound, with the Larons loaded, fueled, and ready to go.”
“Three days after our raid, they came into Prescott, and they must have been plenty pissed. The gang rolled in just after dawn. They didn’t seem to care how many losses they were taking, and they immediately started to torch every building they got to. Blanca and I didn’t wait until they made it to the north side of town. Everyone at the compound was by then either in town manning the barricades, or had headed for the hills. Most of the remaining stuff at the retreat went with two families that had a pair of GMC motor homes. They were headed for Flagstaff.”
“At that point, we realized that discretion was the better part of valor, so we took off, too. We used a nice long straight stretch of road that started a quarter mile north of the compound. I had taken off and landed there many times before during the five years we were there. When we wheeled around after take-off, we could see that almost half the buildings in the downtown area were on fire. We didn’t stick around to see how things ended, but I’m afraid that the looters must have taken the town. Even though they didn’t have any armored vehicles left, they had superior numbers and superior firepower.”

Sunday, July 1, 2007

[Regarding the recent mention in SurvivalBlog about the resurgence of movies and television shows with survivalist themes,] I am a more than a bit of a movie buff, and I recently discovered that one of my favorite movies has been re-made. The sci-fi classic novel "I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson finally gets the big budget and big star treatment it deserves in this third adaptation. Due for release in US theaters on December 14, 2007, the movie "I Am Legend" stars Will Smith. This post-apocalyptic thriller may be best remembered by SurvivalBlog readers from it's earlier incarnations. Namely, 1971's "The Omega Man" starring Charlton Heston, and 1964's "The Last Man On Earth" starring Vincent Price. Although pure science fiction, I thought that the post-apocalyptic "survival" theme throughout the story may be of interest to the blog's readership. The trailer for the film looks impressive. Best Regards, - Cowboy255

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Good Evening JWR:
I am very thankful for you site. It has catapulted our preparedness agenda, leaving 99% of our friends and family lost in a smoke screen of Utopian chatter. We have been in a preparedness state of mind and action since hurricane Andrew. Approximately 3 million had the same experience and are unmoved.

Here is my problem: Many of your readers still "don't get it". The three primal needs are water, food, and shelter. Now I agree 100% with the ability to defend your home, and family. You will buy the 'BIG' gun, the intermediate rifles, the short range rifles, and the handguns, and all the ammo you can carry and hide. Obtain the knowledge of how to repair them within reason, then it is time to get back to the primal needs. For all the talk on transportation, once you get to your retreat...where are you going? Bicycles? Give me a good horse that mows the yard and gives me fertilizer. Low energy refrigerators? A 36 inch well will suffice, that you can drop a wire basket down into to keep food cool or the old fashion spring house.

In my opinion, the Amish and Mennonites have the right idea for a self-sustained life style. A closer look might help a few people.

If you can't eat an ear of corn that you have flicked the worm off of or pulled the worm out of your peach then you might think you are going to throw some seeds in the ground and they will instantly grow. Jack and the Bean Stalk was a fairy tale.

One last issue on food storage. You will need to be able to can food. But the math might be a little off. If you put up green bean and plan on eating one jar per week (hardly a sustaining diet) , that would be 52 canning jars and lids for one item for one week. If you canned 10 vegetables for 1 year that would be 520 jars/lids per year. Jars can be used over and over, [but] canning lids are a different story. Canning lids for bartering? I don't think so. I don't believe you can have enough.

I don't mind hard times but I will be really angry with myself if I have not prepared appropriately. Thank for listening, - Lauralei


Mr. Rawles,
After reading your novel "Patriots" and researching about proper disaster preparedness, I am ready and willing to start seriously preparing for surviving economic collapse and/or Katrina-like disasters and the rampant looting that follows both -- the problem is that my parents aren't so ready or willing.
Whenever I bring up the subject of having extra food and water in the house, I'm told we don't have the space or the money. When I bring up the subject of firearms, they flat-out refuse to allow guns into the house. When I tell them about all the possible disaster scenarios that could happen in the near future, I am told to "quit being so negative!" In short, they don't know (or don't care) about what could happen if hyperinflation hits, if all the oil ran out next month, or if the United States gets into a nuclear conflict with another major power. The scariest thing is that if these problems came up they believe "the government will take care of us."
If I had the ability to move out and start preparing on my own, I would -- but I am just a poor college student with no car, no job, and no money, so: is there anything I can do to make my parents realize that:
a) something bad could probably happen in the near future that causes all h*ll to break loose
b) the government probably can't (or won't) do anything to fix it, and
c) the best way to ensure our survival is to take the proper steps and prepare for all possible scenarios the best we can. Thanks, - MJS in Tucson, Arizona

JWR Replies: All that I can recommend is to try to get your parents to read your copy of my novel. I've been told that this has worked for a few others with their heads in the sand. Some folks that were in full-scale Pollyanna denial did a 180 degree turn after reading the book. I can't make any promises, but it may be worth a try.

Dear Jim and Family,
In the beginning of a collapse, you carry a concealed weapon, and deal with the police if you have to use it. Gunfights [typically] last 4 rounds or less, and its usually just one attacker. In theory, after the fight and you've survived, you get it back, eventually. Use a revolver or automatic, your choice, just be sure its small and light enough you always carry it.

As the collapse deepens, you start encountering more and more threats, packs of them. They attack your vehicle, they go after your home, they try to stop you with roadblocks and hostages. It only gets worse as your survival makes you a bigger target for them. The Golden Horde descends and committed amateurs require a lot more firepower to dissuade. As we've read in the Argentina diary by FerFAL, you need volume of fire, and cheap ammo so you can fire lots, spray and pray to drive them off. JHP if at all possible. At this point, the police are coming late or not at all, and investigations are perfunctory and dismissive as long as the bribes flow.

Traditionally, these collapses don't last, and things get better again, with more happy motoring and mass consumption of products... but that's the past. The future is a touch more simple and ugly. The mass quantities are over because the cheap energy is over. Along with those are mass ammunition supplies. Eventually, after years of self defense shootouts and MZB assaults, you start getting low on ammo. You reload your brass, you shoot semi-auto. You pick up your brass but you start running out. It doesn't fit right, its got overpressure damage due to firing in a dirty chamber, incipient case-head separation, cracks, etc etc. What to do? Your automatic pistol needs specific care and feeding to stay reliable. What indeed...

The revolver is a finicky beast, despite what you've heard. Carefully tuned by a decent gunsmith they're a dream to shoot and usually very accurate and amazingly reliable (tuned, mind you). Replacement parts are not drop in, but require fitting and polishing by a smith, which will cost around $1,000. That said, they're relatively simple and most importantly: they don't throw brass. After all the MZBs are mostly dead, a few loners are left wandering around, most of them wary of you or harmless. You'll still need to carry a gun to be safe but you probably won't need a rifle for day-to-day chores or killing snakes in your garden. A revolver is ideal for this job. You can save and reload the brass because the empties are still in the gun. You don't have to crawl around in the dirt, looking for the .40 S&W, one of 43 [pieces] left in your collection, you are sure its over here somewhere. With a revolver, the brass is in your hand.

The Peak Oil collapse is not quite generational, but almost. In some places it will be. In others it won't. The recovery that comes after about 20 years of misery and shortages and temporary bouts of violence (or true anarchy), will eventually end. After two decades of poor or no-police presence, distrust will be such that going armed is the only way to go in many places. However, you will probably find yourself not needing it very often because those 20 years very effectively killed off the most aggressive people, and organized the smart ones into those more able to use, not kill the peasant class, which may include you. You won't have access to spare brass (copper is in short supply now, and will be expensive or impossible to get by then), so having brass is a good idea, stockpiling it and the dies and such needed to load.

As to caliber for your revolver... well, in the old west gunfighters used .35 caliber (slower that .357s), lawmen used .44 and .45 caliber. While the .45 LC cowboy action pistols are fun shooters, they're slow to unload and reload, which I'd call a major problem. I'm aware of bullet swaging hobbyists (make the bullets from lead wire and copper tubes) who can get .454 Casull velocities out of .45 "Long" Colt revolvers which are built strongly. It also bears point that the .44 Magnum can be easily loaded at .44 Special velocities which is more like a .45 ACP in recoil and every bit as effective and comfortable to shoot, so as long as you're reloading anyway, load it to match your preference in recoil. There's also the .41 Magnum, which is between the .357 and .44 in power and recoil, basically a hotter 10mm/.40S&W. Taurus is fond of the chambering for some reason and is selling quite a few models with it, which makes me wonder. Besides two-legged predators, you'll be dealing with feral dog packs, cougars, and black bear which have been eating the dead and see you as a meal (no really, that's why the lions in The Ghost and the Darkness were eating people: poor disposal of corpses taught them that people were food). While animal attacks will be infrequent, you must carry a gun to protect yourself.

The short of it is, buy a sturdy automatic for the first and second parts of the collapse, and a revolver for the third. Best, - InyoKern

Monday, June 11, 2007

I've scanned the [poll results for] favorite Survival Book entries and haven't seen one of mine (unless I've missed it). It's "The Rift" by Walter J. Williams: an edge-of-your seat novel based on the New Madrid earthquake of 1811 occurring again in our time. I highly recommend it to your readers and have enjoyed learning from them of other works that I wasn't familiar with. Regards, - AdkNoah

Sunday, June 10, 2007

I was bored, so I compiled the "raw data" that you recently provided in SurvivalBlog:

TOP 3 SURVIVAL BOOKS (# of votes)
Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse by JWR (10)
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (6)
Lucifer's Hammer by Niven & Pournelle (5)

Lights Out by David Crawford
Earth Abides by George Stewart
Malevil by Robert Merle
Wolf and Iron by Gordon Dickson
Tunnel in the Sky by Robert Heinlein

Red Dawn (6)
Panic In Year Zero (5)
The Postman (4)

The Road Warrior

Regards, - GDS in PRK

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The following letter from a CBS executive comes by way of Rourke (Moderator of Yahoo's Jericho Discussion Group):

To the Fans of Jericho:
Wow! Over the past few weeks you have put forth an impressive and probably unprecedented display of passion in support of a prime time television series. You got our attention; your emails and collective voice have been heard.
As a result, CBS has ordered seven episodes of "Jericho" for mid-season next year. In success, there is the potential for more. But, for there to be more "Jericho," we will need more viewers. A loyal and passionate community has clearly formed around the show. But that community needs to grow. It needs to grow on the CBS Television Network, as well as on the many digital platforms where we make the show available.
We will count on you to rally around the show, to recruit new viewers with the same grass-roots energy, intensity and volume you have displayed in recent weeks.
At this time, I cannot tell you the specific date or time period that "Jericho" will return to our schedule. However, in the interim, we are working on several initiatives to help introduce the show to new audiences. This includes re-broadcasting "Jericho" on CBS this summer, streaming episodes and clips from these episodes across the CBS Audience Network (online), releasing the first season DVD on September 25 and continuing the story of Jericho in the digital world until the new episodes return. We will let you know specifics when we have them so you can pass them on.
On behalf of everyone at CBS, thank you for expressing your support of "Jericho" in such an extraordinary manner. Your protest was creative, sustained and very thoughtful and respectful in tone. You made a difference. Sincerely, - Nina Tassler, President, CBS Entertainment
P.S. Please stop sending us nuts :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The decision by CBS to simply cancel Jericho was compounded by how much of a cliffhanger the final episode ended on. Reminiscent of Star Trek and Firefly fans, there has been a steady and growing outcry of loyalist fans. In a show which has been loaded with them, the final episode had the homage to the WWII Battling Bastards of Bastogne, where General Anthony McAuliffe, surrounded and outnumbered, responded to the Germans' order to surrender with the famous one-word reply: "Nuts." The grass roots nuts online campaign, which I have contributed to myself, is a clever and tasteful protest to CBS's decision. The other things you can do, for free, is sign the Save Jericho petition, which is just about to over 100,000 now I see, and to e-mail CBS executives directly.
It was frustrating to see Jericho as such a "surprise hit" wane largely as a result of having to split the season (off air for several months, as was Lost which did survive but also lost viewers), and then be completely dropped cold after a season finale leaving fans on the edge of their seats with so many unanswered questions.
Statements by CBS has hinted there may be mini-movie or mini-series to wrap up to provide "closure" to Jericho. This is not an acceptable appeasement to most fans, who want an entire second season of 22 episodes like the first. The latest rumors though are that CBS is now close to signing an eight episode half season deal.
See also: this article at TV Guide, and this one at Yahoo.

As a final note, the fan appreciation web postings from main characters Skeet Ulrich (Jake), Ashley Scott (Emily) and Lennie James (Hawkins), have been some of the most humble, and truly, sincerely, appreciative to fans that I have ever seen from Hollywood actors. They are taken back at the surge of support in a show they admit through anecdotes they simply loved making. This is a great cast that obviously loved working together. The really seem to feel the pain of fans who were left hanging. I for one am glad I spent the $5 to deliver the message of Nuts to CBS.

More on Jericho:

In closing, I should also mention that Jericho season one, on DVD, will be out in September, on the 11th, a grossly inappropriate date for that IMHO. Nuts again to CBS.
- Rourke (Moderator of Yahoo's Jericho Discussion Group)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Here is the first batch of responses to "OSOM"'s suggested poll: List your top five fiction books and top five fictional movies that help folks learn something useful for survival. OSOM's comment: "Jim's novel Patriots has been called a 'survival manual fairly neatly dressed as a work of fiction.' I believe that reading fictional tales is critical to prepare yourself mentally and spiritually for hard times, and helps intellectually to work out the variables in different situations."

You will note that several reader sent only book recommendations (No movies.) It is noteworthy that several respondents mentioned the e-novel "Lights Out" by David Crawford. It is a 611 page (2.5 MB) PDF file available for free download.

Films & TV Movies
The Postman
Testament - PBS
Threads - BBC
The War Game - BBC
Jericho - TV Series (Has flaws but it is still good)

The Camulod Chronicles - Jack Whyte (A series of books about the Roman retreat from Britain. Very good for the planning and preps for the multi-generational TSHTF situation)
Alas, Babylon - Pat Frank
Lights Out - David Crawford (aka Half Fast)
Warday - Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka
The Postman - David Brin


Fictional Books:
The Road, by Cormack McCarthy
Wolf and Iron
Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse, by Mr. Rawles
The Survivalist series by Jerry Ahern, books One through Ten
Out of the Ashes series, by William W. Johnstone

Fictional Movies:
Threads (BBC TV: UUUGGGLLLYYY!! Can be seen on Google video, in its entirety)
The Road Warrior
Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome
A Boy and His Dog (A can of peaches [beets] for movie admission)
The Omega Man (Charlton Heston was too cool)


Top Survival Fiction Books
Patriots (I have read it seven times)
Alas Babylon by Pat Frank
Earth Abides by George Stewart
Malevil by Robert Merle
On the Beach by Nevil Shute

Top Five Survival Movies
Panic In Year Zero
Massive Retaliation
In the Year 2889
The Omega Man
Packing It In (Comedy)
The Survivors (Comedy)


Patriots (JWR) - An entertaining primer on survival.
The Road (Cormac McCarthy) - Hard to imagine a situation this bad; great literature and an awesome display of fatherhood.
Enemies series (Matt Bracken) - Primarily a political "agenda", but packed with good info.
Walden (Thoreau) - Basic self-reliant living in the woods; great literature.
Lord of the Flies (William Golding) - Displays the sad truth that, in the absence of an "equalizer" (weapons, tools, alliances, etc.), depraved brute force usually rules and the weak are devoured. This is a great reminder that humans are sinful and naturally take advantage of one another. Thus, don't ever get into a situation where you are a helpless little "Piggy", dependent on the good will of a pack of wolves for survival.


Red Dawn (Corny? Yes, but this turned a generation of 10[-to-16]-year-olds into future survivalists).
First Blood (The best modern fugitive movie).
Terminator 2 (Displays the mindset of preparing for the horrible day that may or may not come).
28 Days Later (A look at surviving in an extreme worst case scenario).
Shawshank Redemption (How to use one's mind to survive when locked up with man's most dangerous threat: other men).


Fiction Books:
My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George
Lights Out, by David Crawford
Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe
I need to read more!

Cast Away
The Day After Tomorrow
Behind Enemy Lines
War of the Worlds
Shawn of the Dead


Fiction Books:
Patriots by James Rawles
Wolf and Iron by Gordon Dickson
Unintended Consequences by John Ross
Earth Abides by George Stewart
Enemies Foreign and Domestic by Matthew Bracken

Outlaw Josey Wales
Empire of the Sun
Red Dawn
Enemy at the Gates
Dersu Uzala


Top Survival Novels:
Alas Babylon by Frank
Lucifer's Hammer by Niven, Pournelle
Malevil by Merle
Tunnel In the Sky by Heinlein
Vandenberg; A Novel by Lange

Top Survival Movies:
Jeremiah Johnson
Southern Comfort
The Naked Prey
Panic In Year Zero
Red Dawn

Lucifer's Hammer
The Stand
Patriots (JWR)

Mad Max
The Road Warrior
The Stand
The Postman
Steel Frontier


Last of the Breed by Louis L’Amour
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
King Rat by James Clavell
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane


Favorite Survival Novels:
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Some Will Not Die
Fire and Ice
Unintended Consequences

Favorite Survival Movies:
The Seven Samurai
Battle Royale (BR)
The Last Valley

Lucifer's Hammer
Alas, Babylon
Some Will Not Die
Tunnel in the Sky by Robert Heinlein
The Survivalist series by Jerry Ahern

Panic in Year Zero
Day the World Ended
Soylent Green
The Postman
Deep Impact


Tunnel in the Sky by Robert Heinlein
The Postman by David Brin (not the movie)
Earth by David Brin
The Freeman by Jerry Ahern
The Nantucket Series of 3 books by S.M. Stirling


Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
I am Legend by Richard Matheson
Malevil by Robert Merle
Lights Out by David Crawford (aka "Half Fast")

Red Dawn
Night of the Living Dead
The Omega Man

Old Paper & Pen & Miniature RPG games
Twilight 2000
The Morrow Project

Computer Role Playing Games


Last of the Breed, Louis L’Amour
The Grapes of Wrath, J. Steinbeck
The Call of the Wild, Jack London
King Rat, James Clavell
The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane (just because we read it in 5th grade don’t discount this one)


Conquistador by S.M. Stirling
Patriots by J.W. Rawles
Vandenberg by Lange
Atlas Shrugged by Rand
Lucifer's Hammer by Niven and Pournelle

Pulling Through (not yet produced script--can be downloaded at JWR's site)
All three Terminator movies (T2 rocks!)
The Quiet Earth
Blast From The Past (Funny)
Tremors (Very funny. The "UZI 4 U" Gummer couple are hilarious.)


Adventures of Conrad Stargard (Series), Leo Frankowski
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Heinlein
Freehold, Michael Z Williamson
Farnham's Freehold, Robert Heinlein
Dies the Fire, S.M. Stirling
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
Patriots, James Wesley, Rawles

Apollo 13
The Road Warrior
V for Vendetta
The Matrix


Fiction Books:
Patriots - James W. Rawles
The Andromeda Strain - Michael Crichton
Wolf and Iron - Gordon Dickson
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch - Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Molon Labe! - Boston T. Party

Jeremiah Johnson
Red Dawn
The Seven Samurai
Saving Private Ryan


MILA 18 - Leon Uris
Trinity- Leon Uris
Alas Babylon - Pat Frank
Lucifer's Hammer- Niven & Pournelle
The Stand - Stephen King

The Postman
Red Dawn
Jeremiah Johnson
Mad Max-Beyond Thunderdome
African Queen


The Last Ship William Brinkley
On The Beach Nevil Shute
Earth Abides George Stewart
Patriots James W Rawles
Farnham's Freehold Robert Heinlein

Panic in the Year Zero (awful music)
The War Game British quasi documentary
The Day After


Fiction Books:
Footfall, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Dark December by Alfred Coppel
Earth Abides by George R. Stewart
Tomorrow by Philip Wylie
The New Madrid Run by Michael Reisig

Panic In Year Zero
The Trigger Effect
The World, The Flesh, & The Devil
The Last Train (British miniseries)
Five (Arch Obelor)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Rawles,
I came across this story of Jericho [television series] fans that have sent almost 19,000 pounds of nuts to CBS to protest the show's cancellation. Borrowing from Jake's reply of "Nuts" to New Bern['s demand for surrender.]. Here is a link to the story. - T.A. From Indiana.

JWR Replies: In their typically resourceful American way, people are expressing themselves in a creative way to be sure that they'll be heard. If you enjoyed the show, folks might want to at least sign the petition. And if you really love the show, then it might be worth investing $5 in peanuts.

Friday, May 25, 2007

"OSOM" suggested this poll: List your top five fiction books and top five fictional movies that help folks learn something useful for survival. OSOM's comment: "Jim's novel Patriots has been called a 'survival manual fairly neatly dressed as a work of fiction.' I believe that reading fictional tales is critical to prepare yourself mentally and spiritually for hard times, and helps intellectually to work out the variables in different situations."

I'll kick off this new poll with my own list. Please send your lists in the same format via e-mail and I will post them anonymously. Thanks!

Fiction Books:
Lucifer's Hammer, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
Pulling Through by Dean Ing
Some Will Not Die by Algis Budrys
No Blade of Grass by John Christopher

Farewell to the King
Jeremiah Johnson
Open Range
The Pianist
The Postman

(Yes, I know, I mentioned two Kevin Costner movies in my list. But they are worth watching.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I just thought I would send you a quick note and tell you about Conservative Match. [Their motto is:] "Sweethearts, not bleeding hearts." My son found himself a wonderful wife there that fits our family like a glove. It was like she came custom made. Maybe he just got lucky, but he managed to find himself a wife, and myself a daughter in law, that I just did not think were being made anymore. She is conservative/libertarian and home schooled. Oh, and did I mention she has the "survivor gene" and likes to hunt, fish, camp, scout and shoot? Not to mention she loves your book ["Patriots"] and has read it twice. (Taking notes the second time, as I did.) - Gung-Ho

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hello Mr. Rawles,
First, let me preface by saying I am not anyone in the movie industry nor am I anyone in the publishing field. I am simply a citizen who happened upon your movie script - "Pulling Through" - and wanted to give you some feedback on what I thought of it. That said, I read it the other day and was totally hooked from the first scene onward. You began it with such an urgency, that to me, it was like the old Lay's potato chip motto of "ya can't eat just one". What I mean by that is, one cannot stop reading from scene to scene. It has such a dynamic to it that it pulls in the reader from the very first scene. I read it straight through, except for the occasional interruptions [here] of the phone, kids questions, etc.

The characters are very well thought out. They each had a "quality" and "expertise" that helped build the storyline. Roland & Jennifer's growing "relationship" made it a story of not only love and romance, but one of survival and urgency to get back together. And the "trek" that Roland had to make (on foot part way) from California to Idaho was a harrowing experience indeed!

I am a believer that your storyline will actually come true one day and be a true life experience for citizens of our country in the very near future. I have also been conscious of the NWO since the early 1980s. I also have been an avid sportsman (hunter, fisherman, target shooter) since the 1970s and have been aware of the anti-gun "grabbers" (like Brady, Schumer, Kennedy, Feinstein, etc.)
for over two decades now. They are all making great headway with their firearms removal "agenda", to put it politely. Our country is at a precipice (IMHO) and is about to go over the edge of the cliff with respect to totalitarianism/tyranny/dictatorship. By your story, I think you would agree to that. As the old saying goes: "Those that do not learn from history are destined to repeat it!" Sorry, I digress.

Your story, when someone decides to place it up on the silver screen, will be an excellent movie for many a patriot to see. I only have one negative comment about it though. The ending. It was almost
"anti-climactic" in the abrupt way it was closed. While I was delighted that Roland and Jennifer made it down the aisle of matrimony, I was curious as to what happened to the others in the story. Where did they go? What did they do as individuals in the aftermath of the financial system collapse? How did they cope? I must admit, I was a bit "let down" at your ending. I got there and said to myself; "What? That's it?" The story was just getting good (IMO) and then bam, it was over. It left me with a feeling of needing just a bit more for it to be (IMO) a better finale!

Do I have any thoughts as to what that better "finale" might be? Nothing more then I already mentioned above. What did everyone do after the "[barter] 'faire" & wedding? Was there more societal chaos? Did everyone come to grips with what happened and attempt to make a better form of government and monetary system? Were we re-established as a "republic" form of government? Was the "new" government and financial system better than the old one? I think a bit more "vision" and "imagination" on the part of the author would have been welcomed by viewers.

Well, sir, that's about all I have to say. I liked it a lot. I feel privileged to be able to read your script. Thanks a lot for the treat. I cannot wait to see it in the theaters. Kindest Regards & good luck selling it, - P.L., Modesto, California

JWR Replies: Thank you for your kind comments. The reason that the screenplay storyline has some unresolved elements is because I loosely based it on just the first half of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". My intent is to eventually write the script for a sequel film, which shows the latter invasion/resistance warfare/constitutional restoration part of the story. Since you like the screenplay, I think that you will you also enjoy reading my novel. BTW, the "Pulling Through" screenplay is available for free download for anyone interested in reading it. I also sell hard copies of the screenplay at just $1 over my cost, through Cafe Press, with the goal of getting the screenplay into the hands of movie producers.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Here is the first round of responses to this question: Those who are well educated enough to see a societal collapse of some sort or another in the making fall into two groups, the merrymakers and the preparers. The merrymakers don't see life worth living post-SHTF, so they live it up now. We on SurvivalBlog are the preparers and have chosen to survive, but why? Our children? To rebuild civilization? Because the collapse will only be temporary? Because we can and we're stubborn with a stronger than normal will to survive? The following is just the first batch of responses. I plan to post at least one more batch. Please send your responses (one paragraph or less) via e-mail, and I will post them anonymously.

The survivalist is an optimist -- not merely because he/she thinks he'll make it through the crisis, but because of the (possibly subconscious) hope that something good will emerge in the aftermath. It's the logic of any kind of apocalyptic thought... Theological systems that have a conception of a climactic struggle or an "end times" imagine that, after Armageddon, we'll see the dawning of a new age. Not surprisingly, a lot of Hollywood movies follow this script, too: After the aliens are defeated, for example, in "Independence Day", mankind stands united, having put aside their differences; After catastrophic weather changes in "The Day After Tomorrow," the planet begins to heal itself, etc. Heck, this theme can be seen, too, in your fine book, "Patriots". In the same way, I plan to live not only because I'm stubborn and have a finely-tuned sense of justice -- and thus hate the idea of turning over the planet to looters, thugs, and others who would prey on the innocent -- but also because I'm both curious and hopeful about what will emerge as society reconstitutes itself.

My modest preparation springs from the knowledge that I and the Lord are the protectors of my family (there are five of us). Our ultimate trust is in Him, but it is on me to do what I reasonably can do to protect my family from in the event of hardship and/or disaster. (After watching [Hurricane] Katrina, it seems apparent that the government cannot do that.) Anyone reading your web site thinks that there is at least a fathomable chance that our nation's run of blessing/luck will end (or be suspended) at some point in the future. Nothing lasts forever. If and when that time comes, I would never forgive myself if my family suffered unnecessarily because I did not take reasonable steps to prepare for such a time. In addition to that, it's just plain fun to learn about this stuff. (Anyone who says otherwise is lying!)

Because the alternative is inconceivable to me!

I’m currently going through some things in my life that are agonizing (but subject to change) and make things feel almost hopeless for me at times, yet every day I wake up again and thank God that he breathed the breath of life into me. I won’t waste that breath. I’m motivated to prepare to survive and overcome by many factors. Here are some examples:

I’m a 7th generation descendant of a settler in my current state and I’m motivated to survive by the risks my settler ancestors took, the struggles they went through, the multiple battles they fought in, the children they lost prematurely and the price they paid to be here. I recently visited some of their graves for the first time. I see it as my responsibility, honor and duty to live freely and survive. The stock I am from is cut out for it.

I prepare to survive because I’m ultra conservative, at times feeling like an endangered species or “minority” and I’m tenaciously defiant to those who would like to see my “kind” exterminated. I am equipped with a few trusted friends that are peers in regard my views (though mostly surrounded by sheeple) and have inspired some to begin to prepare. I discern a negative spiritual force is taking action to see my country’s sovereignty given away. I am motivated to be a hindrance to that spirit. My country is worth saving.

I prepare to survive because as a young man I swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, despite the fact that there have been some truly sorry individuals working to undermine that Constitution since before I was born. I intend to see my oath fulfilled.

I prepare to survive because I read "Patriots", awoke to how fragile our economy really is and saw how foolishly I’d been behaving in the past (assuming life would always be normal) and am in the process of repenting of any residual foolish, sheeple-like attitudes and habits I have.

I prepare to survive because I’ve been in a city where gasoline was temporarily not available and walked through the local grocery store at 3:00 AM (less crowded) and have seen the store shelves stripped of food for a short period of time. It’s pretty convincing you need to prepare when the fuel in the tank of your vehicle and few 5 gallon cans (at the time) may be all you’ll have for a while.

I prepare to survive because if things ever Schumerize I have multiple skill sets that can help a number of people in a number of survival situations. I believe I was created to help people, when possible. I gather info, educate, discuss and leave food for thought for those who are unprepared, but willing to listen and consider my views on the subject.

Why an I preparing? For the simple reason that I live in the middle of the midwest. Bad winters, heavy snow, and ice storms. The rest of the year heavy rain , floods, tornados, et cetera. You can't depend on the government to come through when needed, so if you don't have what you need than you are SOL! You have to be able to get by on what you have or fabricate something to do the job needed. I haven't depended on the government to help and I really don't think they have the capacity any more if ever. It will be your self and friends and neighbors pulling together that will make the difference. I prepare for me and mine so that we may be able to help others if need be. I've traveled extensively in South America, off the beaten path, and if you don't have what you need or can fabricate it than you should not be there. The same goes for having all your ducks lined up at home.

I'm a Jesuit educated 38 year old Bachelor, Eagle Scout, USMC Gulf War Vet, working for a major aerospace company in Seattle. The reason I'm preparing is I inherited ~$500K from my grandfather, who sold the family farm in California to housing developers. He worked hard for all of us and I don't want that blessing of wealth to be squandered. I'm preparing because being prepared is what's been beat into my head since I was a kid. You can't play the "victim" card on the Four Horsemen.

Why do I prepare? Probably because I read too much science fiction as a child! Probably because surviving is so much more interesting than succumbing. Born in the late 1950s, I remember bomb shelter salesmen and diving under my desk during A-bomb drills. I always assumed something, a war, or a pandemic, could change life as I knew it. It never occurred to me not to want to survive. Both my parents were alive during the depression, and that contributed to not taking food/housing for granted. Perhaps my uncle, who survived Bataan, or my aunt, who was a prisoner of war in the Philippines, might also have had something to do with my mindset?

Because I believe that life is worth living, and I have no intention of simply "biting the dust" unless I give it the old college try. I believe that trying and ultimately failing is far better than not trying at all.

Bottom line: I owe it to my family to be prepared. I could not bear to look into their eyes as they look to me for help and have to say "Sorry."

I am a preparer. Not because I'm smarter than anyone else, but because from what I see, there just is no other choice. I do it for my family; my beloved husband who humors me but thinks I'm slightly nuts, my grown children who love me but roll their eyes whenever I speak about what is happening around us. look, I don't have any college degree or any fancy smarts, no one would call me well educated. But I can see what I can see. I read, study, research and from my angle, we are gonna be toast and I bet my surly one eyed cat that it will be ugly. so I plod along doing the best I can when can. I don't have a retreat, I don't have a bunker or fallout shelter, I don't have 10 acres or two years worth of food. But I've got God. I keep plodding on doing the best with what I have and I know He takes care of the rest.Will we survive the whatever that comes? Heck if I know. But I'm a fool if I do not give it my best shot.

As a man of firm Christian beliefs, I believe all our days are numbered and have value. In those number of days we are to protect and provide for our our own selves, our families and so on. Examples in scripture are numerous how people were commanded to defend their homes, their cities, their neighbors, and their land. Unless we (like some were) are destined to go into Babylonian captivity I see no other proper choice.

I am taking what steps I feel necessary to survive in a societal collapse of infrastructure because I realize that the more intricate a system of living becomes, the more possible facets of failure are therefore created. As the machine known as Society grows in scale and complexity, so do the required aspects of its function; increasing the number of things that can go wrong, thus eventually causing a critical failure of the system. With the statistical (and historical) inevitability staring one in the face, how can someone not do everything within your power to be prepared?

I feel its my duty to four fathers, kids, grand kids, friends, although they are getting harder to find these days, an it just feels like the right thing to do,also its interesting,fun, a great learning expense,i spend hours on your site an i want to really thank you for it. I'm sure you make money off of it an you should, but I'll bet you are the type of person that really believe in what you do. I love my guns an have about 25 [of them], I try to go to the range at least three times a week, its the most relaxing time in my life ,by myself or with someone, I'm sure a lot of people don't understand, I love the military weapons a lot, I have .303s, Mausers, and others. I'm proud of my beliefs, thanks.

I consider preparing my Christian duty. I'm also stocking up lots of extra food, clothing, and so forth for charity, which is also my Christian duty.

Myself, I am what would be called a "millennialist" based on my beliefs from the Bible. The majority of mankind is stupid and sinful. Thousands of years and we are still doing the same mistakes over and over. I do not believe in any Gene Roddenberry vision where mankind, by its own efforts, rises from the ashes and evolves into a benevolent a Star Trek society. Nothing sort of divine intervention will save us in the long run from permanent self-destruction----Now aren't I a cheerful one to invite to a social gathering?;)

Just for the record, I'm not one of those nuts that believe in trying to hasten or encourage the Second coming The world is dong a fine job all by itself.

While I had read about survivalism and planning for a couple of years, the importance of having some sort of plan didn't hit me hard until I was living in the South, had a new baby, and [Hurricane] Katrina hit. All of a sudden the importance of having an evacuation plan, supplies, and a known destination to retreat to were very important. I am not as prepared as many of the readers, but I know where to go and what I'll do when I get there. Also, thanks to some great books on small farming and some great advice on here I know how to avoid some real pitfalls.

I’m preparing to survive for my wife and my children, because I can and because it gives me a feeling of confidence. I say “because I can” since most of my acquaintances don’t have a clue of the probable upcoming changes in society, but of those that do have a clue they can’t prepare for survival. They can’t prepare for survival because they’re financially tapped out by having been brainwashed into living on credit today figuring somebody else will take care of them tomorrow, but it won’t be me.

And it drives me nuts. A 45 year old single female friend of my wife owns a boat, owns a camper, had two vehicles, bought a scooter and recently bought a house within the last two years. When I first started preparing for survival, my wife made a comment to her about it and her friend said when the SHTF “we’ll all be as snug as a bug in a rug.” I said“What do you mean we? I think you need to make your own preparations.”

I used to try and educate our acquaintances but have started taking more of an inquiring approach with regards to what they think are the possible upcoming changes in society. A couple we know refinanced their house to buy a travel trailer but they only camp within 45 minutes of their house because they can’t afford the gas and their tow vehicle is not reliable. I asked the husband what he thought was coming in the future, he said he figured things were going to get pretty bad. But then they just put down a deposit on a trip to Hawaii so I’ve got to figure you just can’t help people like this.

And it’s not that I wouldn’t help anybody, I saw value in a comment on your web site with regards to helping neighbors and I will. (Is it okay if I only help the ones I like?). We live in a conventional neighborhood and I wish we didn’t but at this point it would take too much of our resources to move to a property with more land. So our best defense is to bond with the good neighbors but I don’t want all our irresponsible acquaintances coming to live with us.

We have a good life and are lucky to be able to make preparations for what may come. And I am thankful for every additional day I have to get better prepared.

I am preparing to survive because I believe the threats to our way of life are manifold. We are in a global war. China strength's grows, our borders are not protected. Our government is shredding the constitution. Natural disasters, environmental concerns, the basic depravity and selfishness of man--its reason enough. I was a volunteer during [Hurricane] Katrina. Not one person who had preps, was sorry. Many other equivalent societies in this century have fallen, why is America better ? It is inevitable, one disaster will prove the wisdom of preparing.

1. Life is worth living.
2. I want to be around if there is any defending of this nation to be done.
3. Who said one can’t prepare and merrymake? (I guess it depends on one’s interpretation of ‘merrymake’).

It's something that was raised in me. Whether it was the Boy Scout's motto of always being prepared, or just the human instinct of survival, if I see something on the horizon, I won't back down. Not to mention I get to justify spending a lot of money on camping gear and guns, my two favorite hobbies.

We are trying to prepare because it is the right and responsible thing to do for our family, friends, neighbors, and country. If we all became part of the solution, then there would be no problem.

Jim, I grew up in the bomb shelter/Cold War era. A neighbor two houses down actually dug out their front yard to install a bomb shelter. My folks had a rudimentary bug-out bag and we always kept a month's worth of food on hand. Hey, for the 1950s, that was progressive thinking so I guess I come by being into preparedness naturally.

I hold advanced degrees but my education does not get in the way of exercising common sense. It is obvious that our complex society is too interdependent to survive major interruptions and we have numerous examples to look at (the L.A. riots, Hurricane Katrina, and such). To believe that a major interruption of services could not occur is delusional. The empirical evidence is right in front of us. The family which is prepared has far fewer worries.

Do I believe we are headed for TEOTWAWKI? Not particularly. Do I believe that we will see significant disruptions that will affect us for 10 days or so? Yes, definitely. Disruptions lasting to 30 days or beyond? Less likely, but I maintain a "year's supply" nonetheless. Also, my Church has preached being prepared for years. Our leaders have constantly cajoled us to have a year's supply of food and other necessities and my guess is they know something we haven't heard yet.

Most pundits state that human beings are constantly evolving. The point they have ignored or can't see is that the evolvement of the human race in the last 50 years has been a deterioration, not an advancement. We survivalists are, quite frankly, throwbacks to the pure genotype that got us to this point in time.

I prepare because the end is nigh (at least TEOTWAWKI), and there will be a lot of merry-makers who suddenly changed their minds, post-collapse. If you're prepared and you decide the going is too rough, you can always quit,but if you're not prepared, your options are zero. You're done. Besides, my family is Finnish, and we're stubborn SOBs. You can always tell a Finn, just not much...

I prepare to survive because I see it as part of the natural cycle of human civilization. Something in us wants to forget the lessons of what makes us a great society and start living on borrowed riches and capabilities. Eventually, that living beyond our means catches up with us via a natural disaster, economic collapse or societal conflict.

If we were not to prepare to survive then we are doomed to fail and live miserably under the dictates of someone else. If we prepare we are not guaranteed to have prepared for the right situation, or enough, but at least we have a much better than average chance. In the end, I am an optimist. No matter how bad things get they will eventually get better. We can speed up our own recovery and that of our community’s by preparing now. If we do not, then we may end up wallowing in misery and struggling for the barest necessities. Is that the kind of life God wants for us? I think not. I believe God wants us to live wisely and prepare to prosper under all conditions. That takes discipline and short-term sacrifice.

Jim, your blog rocks. I only hope that I can learn and earn fast enough to take advantage of the incredible information that your forum provides before TEOTWAWKI.

I have a beautiful 6 month old son who is totally innocent to the ways in which TPTB (the powers that be) are systematically destroying nature, American Democratic principles and threatening the survival of humanity. He deserves a chance in this life, regardless of whether or not he'll ever get to visit Sam's Club, get a college scholarship, drive a V-8 or own an iPod.

When things start to get dicey, and as the world as we know it begins to fall apart - most likely permanently- he will be just coming up in age and entering what should be the most wondrous years of a child's life.

For him, and for my future children, I will fill their youthful imaginations with nature, tools, projects, outdoor adventure and practical knowledge. Before I let the idiot-box and America's media-driven junk-culture destroy their understanding of their place in God's kingdom (and the animal kingdom), they will know what to eat and how to hunt it, how to garden, how to fix stuff and how to avoid trouble in a society that in the future will eventually fail entirely by trying to eliminate all risk of failure here in the present.

They will be encouraged to learn practical trades: veterinary sciences, engineering, construction, medicine and alternative medicine, martial arts, food production and off-the-grid technology solutions.

No bankers, real-estate agents, financial analysts, politicians or computer graphic designers in this family, Jim. No sireeee bubba.

I have always believed that those people who want to throw God's gift of life away through risk, recklessness, attempted suicide or plain old bad lifestyle habits are doomed to live longer.

I have also questioned since1987 when the U.S.S. Stark got hit by our"allies" escorting black gold in the Persian Gulf how long our cheeseburger-driven, cheap-oil, fiat-money, fake-friends and fear of loss-driven society can keep going.

Therefore I will survive this impending paradigm-shift in human existence in order to see my children prevail into adulthood, and for my morbid curiosity to see how all this B.S. I have put up with my entire life winds-up in the end of my days.

It won't be easy however. Here in Texas, not 1 in 1000 people has a clue what might be coming in the next few years. Even after [Hurricane] Katrina pushed a not-so-golden horde of 150,000 low income welfare dependents onto the greater Houston area. I guess that bad stuff only happens to others, right?

I'll be heading for the hills soon enough I hope, and taking my brood to a more austere, self-sufficient and remote lifestyle before Sugar Land Texas becomes a looter's paradise.

At first I prepared because it was an American act of self-reliance. Now, after all the weird looks and puzzled expressions, I get to have the biggest 'I told you so' in my lifetime.

Great question. Do I have an answer? Yeah a couple. Peace of mind in these troubled times is the main one. We buy insurance for everything except peace of mind. Our power goes off we start our transition to alternatives without a worry. Lights, power,shelter, water, communication ability goes on. Food is here to be eaten fuel to use without need to purchase, cash on hand no worries. Another reason we do what we do is because "I" feel it's my responsibility to my family. Part of my responsibility as a husband and a father is prepare to take care of them no matter what happens next I can't sleep knowing I could have, but I didn't. It's a philosophy of maintaining the status quo to then have the time and resources to help others. It's about being "ahead of the game." It's about life and meeting it's changes head on, never stopping head down and moving constantly on forward to whatever it is that is next in life.

My reason is: why give up? I have fought to hard in this life to just roll over and die.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Dear Jim and Family,
The latest episode of [the US CBS network television series] Jericho has finally built up into something significant. A battle between towns, using mobility, rifles, mortars, and negotiation. It was actually pretty good. While my faith in the idea of the show is not exactly restored from its initial low opinion, this is a major improvement in direction of the story. CBS offers streaming viewing of the whole season via their web site. If you open the viewer in a proper player via right clicking on the window, you can stop, pause, and select scenes to view (which is more convenient as well as allows you to skip the commercials. One particular bit of dialogue I think everyone here will smile at is this line: "Every able-bodied person, that needs a gun, sixteen years of age or older, line up." Best, - InyoKern

JWR Replies: I was also pleased to see considerable improvement in the last three episodes ("Causus Belli", "One if By Land", and "Coalition of the Willing".) While they were still tactically pitiful--with a couple of scenes such as the truck-jacking via horseback downright laughable--the last three scripts were captivating and even thought-provoking. These episodes reminded me a bit of Machiavellian politics in the Roman city states of the early Renaissance. OBTW, the scene where Hawkins reveals his storage space full of guns and gear reminded me a bit of my JASBORR. But I was disappointed that the weapons and ammo that they gathered didn't even fill the back of a full-size pickup. (A lot of the SurvivalBlog readers could have filled several pickups.

There are rumors of cancellation. I hope that doesn't happen. Despite its considerable flaws, he show does have its merits. I t might even convince a few forward-thinking viewers to prepare.

OBTW, don't miss the lively discussion about the Jericho episodes at the Jericho Discussion Group moderated by Rourke--a frequent SurvivalBlog contributor.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

SurvivalBlog reader L.C. recently asked me: "What's your novel "Patriots" like? Is it like the Jerry Ahern ["The Survivalist"] books?" My novel "Patriots" is hard to describe. It is a fast-paced novel, but it is not at all like Jerry Ahern's novels. I did my best to weave a lot of practical and tactical information into the storyline. To illustrate, here is an excerpt from one of the later chapters in the novel (titled "Radio Ranch") that shows the style:

Edgar Rhodes had just turned 72 when the Crunch hit. He had lost his wife two years earlier, to cancer. His only son, an electrical engineer, had moved his family to Brazil a decade earlier. Edgar was alone at the ranch. The sign by the front door read “Radio Ranch”, and the place certainly lived up to its moniker. He had selected the property 40 years earlier, specifically because of its favorable ridge
top siting. The ranch parcel was 35 land-locked acres. His road transited deeded right-of-ways through two neighboring properties to get out to the county road. Edgar liked the privacy. The ranch had plentiful water—a big spring near the bottom of the property—but not much else. There were no trees and there was not much topsoil. Rocks poked through the surface of the soil throughout the property. But Edgar liked his ridge top. He said that it gave him “line of sight to the world.” Eventually, five antenna masts were scattered around the house.
The largest was his “moon bounce”, perched atop a 60 foot tower. There were also dipole and sloper antennas stretched as far as 88 yards from the house, in several directions.
Edgar used a pair of hydraulic rams to lift the water to the house. They were very inefficient, but reliable. The 25 gallons a minute at the spring yielded only 5 gallons a minute at the house.

o o o

Thirteen months after the Federals invaded the Palouse Hills region, Edgar was the recipient of a package that he hadn’t expected. A knock on his door at 11 p.m. woke him from a sound sleep. Edgar put on his robe and slippers and picked up his Belgian Browning 12 gauge shotgun. He was about to snap on the 24 VDC porchlight, when he heard a muffled but familiar voice through the door:
“Edgar, it’s me, Vern. Leave the light off! I need to ask you a favor! You’ve got to hide this package.” Edgar drew back the heavy bars that he had built for the top, middle, and bottom of the door. He opened the door warily, and asked, “What’s so important you have to come here in the middle of the night?” He could see his neighbor in the dim moonlight. There was a woman with him. They were silent. Edgar motioned inward with his hand, and said, “Well, come on in.”

Vern and the woman crept in, groping in the dark front hall. After Edgar had re-bolted the door, he lit a big “triple wick” candle and carried it to the kitchen. Vern and the unfamiliar woman followed him. They sat around the table, with the candle between them, lighting their faces. It was then that Edgar could see that the woman was emaciated. She appeared to be around 60 year old, with graying hair. Her eyes were sunken, and the skin around her jaw seemed taut. She also looked frightened. She kept glancing at Vern. Vern spoke in a jumble: “I’ve just gotta ask your help. This is Maggie. She
escaped from the Federal camp down at Gowen Field, three weeks ago. Folks have been shuttlin’ her north, here into rebel-controlled land. I can’t keep her.
I can barely feed my own family. I figured that since you were alone, and that because you eat good, that, well, you know . . .”
Edgar raised his hand to signal Vern to stop his chatter, and then asked, “Can you cook, Maggie?”
She nodded.
“ Can you mend clothes?”
She nodded again.
“Do you know how to shoot?”
She nodded again.
“Can you speak, Maggie?”
She laughed, and answered, “Of course I can speak!”
“How old are you?”
“How is your strength? You look something terrible thin.”
“I’ve lost a lot of weight, but I still have my strength. Will you hide me here?”
Without a pause, Edgar answered assuredly, “Certainly, ma’am. Nobody bothers me here. The Federals have never noticed me. Even if they did, they’d think I was an eccentric old hermit. Come to think of it, I am an eccentric old hermit. I suppose some day they’ll come looking, to confiscate my radios. But in the mean time, since I’m so far off the county road, nobody is going to notice that there’s somebody else living here.” Maggie beamed and said quietly, “God bless you.”

Vern stood up and made his good-byes, thanking Edgar Rhodes repeatedly, and giving Maggie a hug. As Edgar shook his hand, Vern said, “Now you take good care of this little gal, Edgar.” He turned and disappeared into the darkness. Edgar made Maggie a batch of scrambled eggs before bed. He apologized for not having any coffee or tea. As he walked her down the hall to the guest
bedroom, he said, “You can tell me all about your adventures in the morning.”
The next morning, Edgar went looking on the front porch, where he expected to find Maggie’s luggage. There was none. She had only the clothes on her back.
They consisted of a long and tattered gray dress, a pair of filthy tennis shoes with no socks, and an over-sized man’s forest green trench coat.

Over a breakfast of eggs, flat bread and honey, and slices of cheese, Maggie told her story: “We lived in Payette. My husband had died five years before the stock market crash, so I went to live with my daughter and her family. Three weeks after the troops and the UN administrators arrived, they came for our whole family: My daughter, my son-in-law, their two children, and me. Both my daughter Julie and my son in-law Mark were with the resistance. They were trying to organize groups in the neighborhood for sabotage. One of our neighbors must have informed on us.”
“They surrounded the house at 6 o’clock in the morning. Must have been 40 of them. They said that they’d burn us out if we didn’t come out with our hands up. They dragged Julie and Mark away in handcuffs. They took Mark’s guns and CB radio as “evidence.” They gave me, and the children just five minutes to pack a few clothes, while they stood there with Kalashnikovs pointed at us.
Then they searched me again, and they took everything that I had packed in the suitcases and the duffle-bag and scattered it across the yard, looking for
“contraband.” They laughed and kicked me while I was picking it all back up and trying to re-pack it.”
“When Mark shouted at them, the soldiers threatened to kill him. Finally, after I had most of the clothes picked up, they threw the bags up into the back of a big canvas-topped army truck, and handcuffed me next to Julie and Mark. They even handcuffed the kids. We were all connected to a big heavy chain—it looked like a big boat anchor chain, running lengthwise down the middle of the
truck bed. It was welded down at both ends.”

“They stopped and picked up another family later the same day, the Weinsteins. By the time they had them loaded in the truck, Mrs. Weinstein was having a nervous breakdown. To her, it was the Holocaust all over again. They had lost great grandparents and several great aunts and great uncles in the Nazi years in Germany. Seeing it happen all over again was just too much for her.”
“We were nearly 15 hours in that truck, without a drop of water. They only stopped once to let us relieve ourselves, and we had to do that in full view of everyone. They did what they called “double locking” the handcuffs, so that they wouldn’t tighten up, but even still they left horrible red marks. Poor Mark lost some of the circulation in his left hand, but the guards wouldn’t do anything about it. When they finally took the cuffs off of him, his hand was all puffed up. He must have had permanent nerve damage in that hand.”

" Gowen was a horrible place. We were put in a barracks with eleven other families. There were 59 of us in that barracks, at first. We had one large pot, and we had to do all of our cooking in that, as best we could. There was a weekly ration of spuds. And once in a while, there would be some beans, or bread, or wheat. But there was never enough. Once in a blue moon we’d get some rotten
lettuce or cabbage.”
“We never got a trial. There was never even any mention of it. And when we asked about appealing our confinement, or asked when we would be released, they just laughed at us. Most of the adults were expected to work. Some of it was just make-work. Others worked in the sweatshops. At Gowen, the big industry was boots. Julie was one of the boot makers. She worked 11 hours a day, with 15 minutes for lunch. If she didn’t do her quota of stitching, she was beaten.”
“They came most every day, to take away one or two people for interrogation. It was usually the men. They came back, usually a day or two later, looking ghastly. Sometimes they couldn’t walk. They were usually bleeding. Sometimes they were bleeding out of the rectum from being kicked so much. They often talked about the torture: beatings, whippings, electric cattle prods. Oh, and the bruises, so many bruises! I thank the Lord that I never got picked up for interrogation. I don’t think that I could have survived it.”

“ After three weeks, they came for Mark. He fought them. He hit one of the Belgian soldiers square in the nose, and I think he broke it. His nose bled like a headless chicken. They started beating Mark even before they drove off with him. They never brought Mark back. We were sure they must have killed him.”
“They let some of us older women go out to gather firewood, between the inner and outer fence. The inner fence was new, and had that dreadful razor wire. The outer fence was old. I found a gap where the chain link had parted at the base of a post. I pulled it up and squeezed through. I knew that if they spotted me outside the second fence that they’d shoot me down. But by then, I didn’t care.
I just wanted out of there. Julie had often told me, “Mom, if you ever have the chance to go, then go!” She said that I shouldn’t worry about her and the kids.
So I went without regrets.”
“I walked for three days, drinking out of stock ponds before somebody found me. Seven families helped hide me and move me along, by car, by wagon, and on horseback. All those families were a wonderful blessing. And now I’m here.”

Edgar asked, “Do you have any family, other than your daughter and her kids?”
“Then you are welcome to stay here, indefinitely.”
A week after she arrived, Edgar took Maggie as his common law wife.
Five weeks after Maggie’s arrival, Edgar unknowingly brought a bug back with him when shopping at the monthly Moscow barter market. He soon got over it, but when Maggie got the flu, she quickly grew dehydrated and weak. She died while Edgar was sleeping.
Edgar was convinced that if it were not for her malnourishment at the Gowen camp that Maggie would have recovered from the flu. Cancer had robbed him of his first wife, and now the Federals had robbed him of his second. He never forgave the Federals for that. Before he met Maggie, he had no desire to join the resistance. He sided with them, but did nothing to actively help. But when Maggie unexpectedly came into his life and then so unexpectedly left, it changed him. The day after he buried Maggie, Edgar started packing.

o o o

Soon after joining the resistance, Edgar was put in charge of the fledgling Signals Intelligence Section. He had had communications intelligence (Comint) experience many years before with the Naval Security Group. He had been stationed at Skaggs Island, at the north end of the San Francisco Bay. He soon put that experience to good use. Their well-camouflaged intercept site tents were
generally set up on low hills, usually within 20 miles of Moscow. They had already been operating for nearly a year, on a makeshift basis, using just a couple of Uniden multi-band scanners. When he joined, Edgar brought with him a wealth of Comint knowledge, organizational skills, and lots of additional equipment. This included Drake and Icom shortwave receivers, two additional scanners, a pair of “Gunnplexer” microwave transceivers, a spectrum analyzer, three cassette tape recorders, and several custom-made antennas. Edgar transformed the amateurish section into a professional unit of Comint specialists.

Edgar was a half-century older than most of the men and women in his section. They treated him like their adoptive grandfather. He was a self-professed “crotchety old man”, and they loved it. During some quiet times, he entertained them with old ditties that he played on his ukulele. He sang 1940s pop songs like “They Got an Awful Lot of Coffee in Brazil” and “Three Little Fishies.” The
young resistance fighters loved them.

The section got their most prized piece of equipment from the Keane Team, the winter after Edgar took over. It was a Watkins-Johnson AN/PRD-11 VHF man-portable intercept and direction finding set. It had been captured from the Federals, complete with an H-Adcock antenna array. Using microprocessor generated time-of arrival calculations with the H-Adcock antenna, the PRD-11 could provide lines of bearing on VHF signals, on a three digit display. The “WJ” could also do intercept (without DF) of HF signals. With the single WJ, they could only produce individual lines of bearing, but even this was a valuable for building an intelligence picture of the battlefield. The original sealed batteries for the PRD-11 were soon expended, but the resourceful crew at the intercept site provided the correct voltage for the system using car batteries. All of the other equipment at the site was similarly powered by car batteries, all of which were laboriously carried to the site, and back down to town for re-charging.

Eventually, there were six men and two women on the intercept team. They manned three round-the-clock intercept-shifts, with two intercept operators per eight-hour shift or “trick.” The “day trick” also had two extra staff members. The first was a Battlefield Integrator/Briefer who plotted “best estimate” enemy unit locations on an acetate-covered map board. The other was a Traffic Analyst
or “TA”, who reconstructed the enemy networks by analyzing the pattern of traffic. The TA’s most important time of the day came during the network roll calls that were conducted by the Federal and UN units each morning. Assisting the operational team were a full-time cook, three security men, two teenage message runners, and five “sherpas” who hauled food, water, and batteries to the site. Most of the sherpas had captured Alice pack frames with cargo shelves, a few had less comfortable 1950s-vintage army pack boards. All but one sherpa spent their nights with their families in town.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Good morning. I don't know that I have seen any discussion on your blog on the psychology of denial--why folks aren't more prepared. I acknowledge that it may not be the most vital topic, and that you are doing your part to get the word out, but I correspond to you on this topic in sheer frustration.
Let me be more specific. I have friends and family members who make serious money in their chosen professions, many of whom are in the finance sector. Yet, when I raise the barest reference to preparation and our fragile infrastructure, it's like I just started speaking in five-thousand year old Greek. They have ample resources to buy peace of mind with supplies and equipment that's a fraction of their annual income, but they don't. The world will go on merrily. They'll never be a TEOTWAWKI. Somehow, in their mind it's good financial sense to spend thousands on all manner of insurance (life, car, health, business), but dare suggest that they put away even two weeks worth of food and water, and I'm labeled as "out there." Amazingly, this culture of denial persists even after Hurricane Katrina. They watched on their televisions as the Golden Horde preyed upon itself and just died as government failed to come charging to the rescue. During that sad event, I commented to my youngest brother on the horrible tragedy. I said: "see little brother, not months, but only a few days and you've got Planet of the Apes, baby." BTW - this not a slur on my part to the good folks of New Orleans. This quote was taken from Powers Booth playing a bomber captain in a 1990 made-for-television TEOTWAWKI movie titled "By Dawn's Early Light." (I recommend it), and he was referring to life on the ground when their plane ditched after the collapse. Perhaps seeing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina on TV made it illusory, the cold reality unfolding "live and in color" simply blended into the numbing TV mythos of movie magic. Either way, to this day, I am still trying to roll the Rock of Gibraltar uphill when it comes to convincing those I care about to cover their assets. I would be grateful for any advice on other methods to penetrate this shield of denial or even references to articles discussing the phenomenon so that I can send it to these guys.
Thank you, and stay well. - Bill H.

JWR Replies: In my experience, the best way to penetrate the shell of denial is to hand someone a useful pro-preparedness third party reference. For some reason, anything that is published in hard copy seems to carry intrinsic authority, or at least hold the cachet of "a published reference." As general survival and preparedness references, I recommend Life after Doomsday by Bruce Clayton, and Tappan on Survival by Mel Tappan. My own books Rawles on Retreats and Relocation and SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog might also be useful. On food storage and survival cookery, I highly recommend Making the Best of Basics by James Talmage Stevens (available from, and The Encyclopedia of Country Living by the late Carla Emery. My Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course is another useful reference that primarily deals with food storage. On firearms and self defense, I recommend Boston's Gun Bible by Boston T. Party and Survival Guns by Mel Tappan.

Don't overlook the usefulness of survivalist fiction.
Quite often, people won't take the time to read a non-fiction book, but they will sit down and read a novel. For this, I recommend novels like Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Wolf and Iron by Gordon Dickson, No Blade of Grass by John Christopher, and Some Will Not Die by Algis Budrys. And again at the risk of sounding like shameless self-promotion, I also recommend my own novel, Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse. For those that don't have the patience to read a book, you can at least send them a link or the URL for SurvivalBlog. Be patient and persistent. Your friends and relatives that presently seem have their heads thrust firmly in the sand may come up to see some daylight if you expose them to enough pro-preparedness references.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I have been trying to paint mental pictures of men, women, and children scouring the countryside for food and fuel, arriving/crashing through the gate to my property, intent on their own survival.
They are hungry, desperate, and in a panic state of mind. I have tried to picture myself shooting warning shots over their heads, hearing them scream and curse at me, and hopefully going away.
I have Dakota Alerts in place for early detection during the night. I had dogs, but they are shot or beaten to death early on in the nightmare scenario.
But the alarms keep going off, and I know that there is movement on my property, and they are close at hand. I pour some semi-auto [fire] out of a window into the darkness to scare them off, and they move on.
But it continues for weeks. The trucking of supplies to us from Mexico has taken much too long, as the main highway system is chaos, and the ports that remain functional have bogged down from a myriad of logistical problems. Canada is doing what it can for the Northern U.S., but law and order have vanished in my area.
Then the pounding on the doors begins, and with some shots and threats. Things have deteriorated to the point to where looters do not care if they are killed. They are miserable
and almost dead already. So now the killing begins, and they will certainly kill me if that is what it takes to get some food and supplies. The Mad Max movie has begun, but it is not theatrical.
If I am to survive, I must take drastic actions.
The psychology/mindset of survival is something I am coming to grips with. It is something so foreign to me, having lived in a wonderland of plenty for so long,
that it is shocking to the senses. It is warfare, but an x-rated dirty and disgusting picture of humanity at its most primitive. How does one imagine barbarians crashing down upon a once civilized culture, reducing the lifestyle to one of filth, starvation, horror, and blood. A ghastly life of violence and suffering and riot; catastrophic losses and degradation to the point of madness and murder. Seeing ones family members huddled together in fear and weeping. Digging pits for the bodies that were killed during the night, remembering their screams and moans, knowing that packs of wild dogs will be trying to dig them up the next night. I could go on, but won't.
I think we can arm ourselves, and have a quite content attitude about how much storage food we have. But, there is the emotional aspect of survival that I am trying to deal with. Does your book ""Patriots"] help here? - Martin P.

JWR Replies: Yes, you will find that my novel "Patriots" is quite helpful in thinking through retreat security and some of the psychological aspects of TEOTWAWKI. In it, I describe some practical and tactical methods for retreat security in a "worst case". In fact, there are some strategies and tactics presented in the novel that I've never seen presented elsewhere. In all of my writings, I have stressed the importance of relocating to a lightly-populated region that is well removed from major metropolitan regions. In the event of a full scale societal collapse, the nightmarish circumstances that you describe will be likely in the cities and in the suburbs, but they are thankfully far, far less likely out in the hinterboonies. In essence, fewer people means fewer problems.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Dear Jericho Staff,
So I've read others comments online about the TV show Jericho. I decided to watch it via the web site and see if there was more value than my initial dismissal from the original pilot. My feelings are

On the one hand, it's nice that someone had the guts to put a survival drama TV show on the air, in prime time, and have the guts to tell the more palatable survival-apocalyptic stories set here in the USA. Points for that. Each episode talks about a couple different survival problems. Each deals with a few new harsh realities for the population,

There's more than a few minuses however, on the realism side. It took the heroes eight weeks to decide to form any defense against bandits. Eight long weeks. Nobody carries a handgun, no communications network is set up for a perimeter, and people are still wasting gasoline like nothing has changed. Is that how long a back supply of antidepressants they were working through? Their behavior is irrational and rational begins when the power goes out and the food starts to rot in the fridge, which is when the EMPs hit. So what have they been doing all this time?

Another question I have for them: the men don't have beards, which means they can shave, which means that there's hot water despite being grid down. The women wear makeup. Nobody complains about a lack of soap, or the stink of their neighbors. The blonde shows the same amount of roots at the beginning of the series as she does at the end. Wouldn't women be letting that grow back out, or dye it one color for the sake of modesty, to prevent fights with the other women, all of whom feel self conscious about not having irreplaceable cosmetics and beauty products anymore? That particular event would make a good episode, dyeing their hair from blonde and other fancy colors to their real brown. I'm not holding my breath for that. They all wear clean clothes, and despite showing some pitiful examples of hand washing, nobody doing the washing looks angry, which when you hand wash, you definitely develop, particularly if you're washing someone else's clothes. Its hard work, irritating, and it does not lend to a kinder and gentler attitude.

Naturally, the children in this show are all retarded -sorry, developmentally disabled-. I'm not sure about you folks, but when a retarded child runs into a burning building to die, my first inclination is not to follow them in and join them in the Great Beyond. Darwin is our friend, and we should respect his wisdom. A child that wants to die that badly must be allowed to follow their fate. Of course, in the real world children don't actually behave like that in a disaster. They usually have cooler heads than their parents do, and seem instinctively inclined to basic survivalism. They back away from the fire, sit down quietly somewhere safe, and wait until they're needed or directed elsewhere. Real children are terrifyingly smart when it comes down to the basics, especially children who are mentally stressed with just a tad of shock. They're like survival robots. 133,000 years of evolution did not go to waste. Adults could learn a lot from them.

The teenagers in this show are apparently retarded, too. Presumably, the authors have bad memories of high school and this is their revenge. It's not well written revenge, sad to say. Few of the townspeople seem to have IQ's over 90, nor be able to say more than "I want", something any two year old can do. Rather than blame the actors, I'm going to put blame squarely on the writer(s) and director. I know it's not possible to write characters smarter than you are, but the hero, Jake, isn't much of a mental titan himself. Any fool willing to risk his life consistently because the other townspeople are too weak and too meek... well, he should be thinking about a few sick days. There's a limit to kindness and he's well past that line. When stupid people opt for stupid actions, and your authors aren't smart enough to jump that idiocy and get into the meat of the problem, you slow down the progression of the plot and make the audience dismiss you as morons. You hurt yourselves writing this poorly. Compare this to a cheesy sci-fi remake like the new Battlestar Galactica. That has good dialogue which never falls into the "I'm explaining what I intend to do so you can be excited" cr*p Jericho keeps doing... Do I need to draw you a picture? The authors of Battlestar Galactica are from Star Trek, if you can believe it.

There are certain scenes in this story which really stick out. In episode 3, radioactive rain somehow removes the radioactivity. When the rain stops after a 12 hour storm, or less, they just walk out into the wet and there's no problems. No iodine gas, no strontium 90, no thorium or cesium decaying and giving everyone fatal radiation poisoning. Nope. Somehow rainwater just cures radioisotopes. Is it because hiding underground for 14 days just isn't sexy for their imported Hollywood stars? In episode 5, a Blackwater(equivalent) experienced combat veteran soldier sprays and prays with his only magazine of ammo out a window beyond effective range, twice. He hits one guy, and misses others he's sworn he'd kill. Does anybody here believe that as plausible? Not I. In episode 7, an entire town of militia volunteers defends a bridge armed with shotguns (with a range of 70 yards) from a backstop of unreinforced cars at 125 yards distance from their roadblock and only one of them, the Smart Guy, owns a rifle and knows how to use it. Do you believe that? Not so much. Having lived in small towns, pretty much everybody owns and operates a deer rifle and a 200 yard head shot is easy, a matter of a few seconds effort. In the real world, 30 men armed with scoped deer rifles against 12 Blackwater troops standing without cover... that's a very short fight. Seconds. Their armor won't stop an '06 or .270 bullet, and at 125 yards that's not even a challenging head shot.

Which brings me to another point: are we honestly meant to believe these small town people don't comprehend murder? Hoodlums threaten and they want to talk about it? Not any of the small towns I've known. Murder of hoodlums is the default answer. Talking is more of a courtesy than anything else. If it weren't for threat of the sheriff making arrests, most small towns resolve hoodlums very quietly: shotgun, shovel, and silence. It's in use today across the countryside. This is why I'm always on my best behavior around ranchers and farmers. Self preservation. With no sheriff, hoodlums get hung very publicly, and their carcasses stripped. The coffin maker stays busy. San Francisco, during the Gold Rush, had a well-earned reputation as a very rough town, where Vigilante justice hung all sorts of bad men, the day they're caught, if not the hour. When I observe the hoodlums allowed to run around the mythical town of Jericho, and the lack of "Preventive Killing" to deal with these hoodlums... I think the authors are a tad weak in the head. At the very least those who are bullied, like the kid who owns the grocery store, would be killing a lot of these punks openly, and daring anyone to give him crap about it. He has the food. They can't eat without him. He's not killing everyone, just a murderer and I can easily see him being offered the right to do as he pleases. Not exactly Democracy, but the way the Mayor's office works in this mythical town,

Like I said: points for making it at all, but don't they think they should ask someone who gave it a little thought? Or even talk to someone in a small town so they don't grossly mischaracterize the sort of brutal efficiency that actually exists, instead of the stupid tripe that passes for "characterization" in their TV drama? I dunno. For the sake of better ratings, maybe. Wouldn't a more realistic drama sell better commercials dollar value, and keep the show on its stated date and time? They've invested in the sets, trained the crews, established their characters, trained their actors, gotten used to hauling in extras, and setup this machine to make money. They've also managed to mostly disgust the very people they're trying to sell this tripe to: us. Fix your junk, guys. It's really not that hard.
Sincerely, - InyoKern

Monday, March 5, 2007

Here are a couple of books that I have stumbled across recently that I would recommend to SurvivalBlog readers.

The first book is actually a set of books written by Rita Van Amber. She wrote five volumes of books entitled, "Stories and Recipes of the Great Depression of the 1930s." The recipes are from readily available ingredients and are simple to make. However, the stories are the best part of the book. The people of this time lived with such hardship and so little food yet they lived well and family relationships were strong. There was no whining for iPods and plasma televisions like you see today. Their survival stories are amazing and I know I learned a few things that could be utilized in a TEOTWAWKI situation.

The second book I want to recommend is a survival fiction book recently out, titled, "Black Monday" by R. Scott Reiss. It entails a scenario where a virus hits our oil supply and all the machines in the world stop working. The way the government reacts and the panic and violence that hit cities in the aftermath are along the lines of your "Patriots"novel. In other words, it is written like it would really happen - no Hollywood (like [the TV series] Jericho) "everybody is happy" scenario. The author was recently on one of the morning shows and believe it or not the technology for this virus already exists and this scenario could really happen. It pays to be prepared!

Both of these books are available on Happy reading! - L.C.A. in W.N.Y.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Over this past weekend, I began re-reading "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" . I hadn't touched it since mid-2000. Wow! page 10 includes:..."just before the Crunch...unofficial debt topped 19 trillion dollars..." a president that didn't let trifles life ledger sheets and statistics get in his way...the real deficit was growing..."a full scale default on US Treasuries appears imminent..."
Then I look at Internet financial and economic news feeds [and see] Fleet Street (London's Wall Street) recommending that their client firms get out of the US Dollar (USD), China, UAE, Russia and others moving out of the USD. Many estimates of the debt are running at $40+ trillion, if you count off table and un-funded "liabilities". A graph of the $USD index since 2003, shows a 30+% drop (no joke!). Pundits like Kudlow crowing that the economy has never been better, even claiming the "dollar is strong!"

In my opinion, we are close to a USD collapse! I'm not blowing smoke at you, as I think its hard to call tops or pick times of events and really no one can, but we are close, if not there!!! - Wardoctor

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Dear Jim:
Clearly the CBS TV show Jericho is limited by confines of being an early prime time network show (nothing graphic like on HBO), a for-profit venture (thus requiring advertisers who willing to buy time and be associated with the show), budgetary constraints of a filming a new show, and of course the politically correct pressures of Hollywood. This is very much the antithesis of the 1983 "The Day After" which was conceptualized, financed and produced by ABC, specifically by the Motion Picture Department President who was impressed with the anti-nuclear power movie "The China Syndrome", and obviously sent out to make this an issue oriented movie (or agenda oriented) without concern as to profit, IMHO. I seem to recall that during the original airing of "The Day After" there were no commercials (I was in high school at the time). It should be noted that "The Day After" did have a profound impact. As for myself, it steeled my resolve to learn more about survivalism (probably the opposite of the intent of the producer). It should be also noted (citing the Wikipedia link above again) that when President Reagan signed the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the director [of The Day After] got a telegram from the Reagan administration that said, 'Don't think your movie didn't have any part of this, because it did." That is pretty powerful. Some also refer the movie "Red Dawn" this way, as having had an actual impact on the cold war, by serving to convince Russia that an invasion of the US simply would never hold against resistance (I should note that movie made Mexico an invading enemy of the US, remember?).

Taking into account how a program can create images and impressions, to allies and enemies both, this is the basis of my real issues with Jericho. Although the "mythology" of the plot, as the producers refer to it, is still largely unknown (probably also best laid out in Wikipedia: it clearly involves a coordinated nuclear strike to about a dozen US cities (the show is deliberately unclear – adding to the sense of drama of Jericho being cut off) which appears to be terrorist in nature, with the inference that in NY people were apprehended in a truck with a bomb before it went off, but this remains uncertain. These strikes are not military, they are at population centers. I therefore note, with the apparent exception of Washington DC, US military bases and installations, as well as non-DC Federal facilities, State, County, and local governments remain intact – just faced with the [power] grid down, transportation down, and fallout problems. I am not saying that isn’t massive, but to some extent, I think some American resilience is not being credited here, especially with the rest of the World apparently intact.

Although I think this show has been great in waking people up to the new reality that there could very well be a very limited nuclear exchange (such as being terrorist based), I was disappointed and alarmed as to where the show left off most recently "8 weeks" after the bombs went off. I think that many of the accusations about the show painting too rosy a picture are true. Jericho is shown to have at least one water tower, and be a city (has a mayor) of some 5,000 people. It is important to note, that once the power went out, even with rationing, that water tower is probably going to run dry within a week. This leaves serious problems as to water, sanitation, and hygiene for so many people. Would it really take until a Chinese generator was air dropped before they got any sort of power going again? The constraints of time and show only allow little blips of the factual realities, and in between all the interpersonal drama which holds most of the audience I’m sure. Still, the lasting impression is one that a small rural town would be helpless, when in fact, I think, such as place would be the least helpless. The pathetic defensive force that Jericho mustered is a good example of this. I find this to be the product of writers who have never spent any time in a Midwestern rural town, nor hunted, nor ever owned a gun. Having lived in a Wisconsin town of less than 1,500, I can assure you that long before 8 weeks past the bombs, a militia group, run through the volunteer fire dept and Village Hall most likely, would have had the town secured defensively. I can think of a single deer hunting group that was 17 guys, and they were highly organized, with radios for their hunting drives, and would have easily convinced the Ravenwood Group in Jericho that the fight was not worth it. Also, in the pilot episode, we saw a gun store in town. At the beginning of episode 2, people were openly carrying shotguns in front of City Hall. Did the writers get flack about that and back off?

Another issue that remains open is the ICBM launch in the evening which preceded the EMP attack. We don’t know yet who those missiles were targeted against, and I am somewhat worried about where they are going with this. This was a moment of great excitement for me, because I thought it was payback, that this show was going to show that a nuclear attack on the US would have a nuclear response. The post-911 world makes this more difficult, because such an attack may be not officially carried out by a government you can just target in retaliation. It is too early to really comment intelligently on this in the saga, but to be honest it very much worries me. Because the image Hollywood creates does matter, this is dangerous place alternate reality PC logic stuff. Freedom of speech, yeah I know, but you can’t yell “Fire” in a cinema, right? How about CNN covering the riots in LA after the police trials with Rodney King, reporting there were no cops on the scene. How about them showing part of the video over and over, the beating, without framing the context that he was high on drugs and had attacked the police. Is that merely reporting the news, or is that creating news by spin doctoring and fanning the fires, which bring up the issue of intent. That would have made an interesting lawsuit, if someone had the guts to bring it, rights vs. responsibility.

Overall I’m all for Jericho. It is a great show to watch and debate. So much drama between all the characters. Great cast of actors, and also of different age groups. Something for everyone! Tune in if you have not, and give it a chance. The Hawkins character is really cool, the closest thing to being a survivalist, even though he’s some sort of secret government agent or something. My only worry is that this show does more damage than good with some sort of backwards to reality politically correct “mythology”. Let’s face it, there are a limited number of people who can and would nuke US cities and kill innocent civilians as portrayed. I hope the writers/producers are willing to be realistic about that or they may do more harm than good, the good being to encourage people to prepare, the harm being to encourage evil enemies of the US that such damage could be done, and with minimum reprisal. - Rourke (Moderator of the Jericho Discussion Group)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Hi Jim:
Hit the nail on the head didn't you? Jericho is nothing more than the standard protagonist/antagonist Hollywood pipe dream of heroes coming out of the woodwork to save the day.

I certainly hope no one is seriously considering this show as a realistic depiction of life after "the pulse". Rather, I compare this show to the "Dark Angel " series, i.e. for network TV, fairly good science fiction with almost nothing based in fact. Actually, I retract that statement. As far as depicting the scenario after an EMP event; the "Dark Angel" series was quite a bit more realistic than Jericho, if you ignore the mutants that were the basis for the show. The "Dark Angel" series depicts a repressive and corrupt socioeconomic system fostered and encouraged by the so-called "government" that came into place after all "normal" government had failed. Checkpoints, passes to enter and leave the city, national ID cards. Sound familiar? These are realities that have and will occur if a major catastrophe strikes.

Back to Jericho: Nice mercenaries? Way too many Steven Segal movies. Backing down a crew of heavily armed mercs with shotguns and 22 rifles? I Don't think so. One realistic part was the sniper shot by the only fellow in Jericho who has a lick of sense, the double agent. I doubt he makes it all the way thru the third season, if there is a third season. The response to that scene was not so realistic!

I understand that the anticipated rush by the general populace to stock up on "survival" supplies due to the influence of this show never materialized. I imagine this is because the viewing audience of Jericho either:
1] Feels they are already prepared and watch the show because it validates their preparations or 2] Takes the show with a grain of salt. Pretty cool situation drama, and beats the heck out of the That 70s Show reruns or one of the other "pabulum" shows on network TV or 3] Simply have their head in the sand! Their thought processes may be as follows: "This can never happen, and , if it does, we can live like those folks on Jericho."See how well they live?".And, "They have power, food, water, even beer and a transistorized juke box that still seems to work after a half a dozen megaton nukes go off all over the US!"
Enjoy the show, take it for what it really is, and Lord help us if the depicted scenario actually occurs. - Bob in GA

Mr. Rawles:
I appreciate your take on Jericho, but I see it a little differently from an average person's perspective. Jericho is not going to be an accurate portrayal of how the US would react because the general public could not handle it if it were. The show would be too violent, too depressing and would never garner ratings, let alone be aired by politically correct network. To make it an entertainment vehicle, it has to have the very elements that make it more fantasy than reality (girls and makeup, lack of arms, etc.). On the flip side, what makes this show wonderful is that it actually has a large audience of ordinary folks who may never have thought of survivalism or may never have thought they could survive such a cataclysmic event. So yes, it is not accurate. But if it gets people talking and moving towards preparedness, then it's saving lives. That is heck of a lot more than you can say about CSI or American Idol. LOL. I speak from personal experience since up until last fall, I was one of those 'sheeple' whose eyes were opened by the show and the survival [Internet] groups I joined as a result. - Tarran

Friday, February 16, 2007

Airing of new episodes of the television series Jericho will resume on February 21st here in the States. (After some sort of "split season" break.) I've watched most of the episodes via the Internet, since we don't own a television here at the Rawles Ranch. Here is my "$.02 worth" evaluation of the show, based on my own viewing and from comments that I've distilled from Internet discussion boards: Jericho severely stretches credulity for accurate portrayal of a post-nuclear America. Apparently all of the female characters must have been secret adherents of the Maybelline School of Survivalism and hence stocked up heavily on cosmetics in anticipation of WWIII. Viewers deduced this because none of the female characters show any signs of running out of lipstick or mascara, or for that matter the requisite time to apply them. And as for the men folk? Well, apparently hardly anyone in the town of Jericho owned a decent .308 semi-auto battle rifle, or if they did then they must be hiding them. Now that the proverbial Schumer has hit the oscillator and flown around copiously, nobody in Jericho feels the need to go about their daily business armed. That seems odd, since in a recent episode the town of Jericho was attacked by a large groups of rogue Blackwater-ish looking mercenaries bent on "requisitioning"" food and fuel. If the show were less politically correct and a bit more pragmatically honest, then they would portray the majority of the adult citizenry--both male and female--armed at all times when they are outside of their homes. It only stands to reason that they would do so, both for their individual and collective defense. My other problem with the show is that it trivializes the need for basic necessities like food and water. For example, there they are on dead-level Kansas terrain, yet they seem to have no problem obtaining drinking water, without benefit of grid power. Perhaps the script writers don't want to bore the audience with mundane things like the struggle to obtain the bare necessities of life, or the fragility of our technological infrastructure. I realize that the producers are trying to appeal to a broad demographic, but the characters seem to spend an inordinate amount of time discussing relationships. Come on! America has just been nuked back to 19th Century technology and population levels, yet they seem oh-so concerned with who is dating who. Lastly, for a town that has had no 18-wheelers arriving with milk, Nutter Butter cookies, and Pop-Tarts for several weeks, the citizenry seems remarkably well-fed and law abiding. Given the fact that the average American home has less than a week's supply of groceries on hand, I am dubious that Mr. Joe Sixpack would just quietly starve at home. In actuality, there would be a lot of burglary and siphoning going on. Lots of it. Oh well, perhaps I'm too critical and cynical. It may not be very realistic, but at least Jericho beats watching re-runs of situation comedies or the umpteen different geographical flavors of CSI forensics shows.

OBTW, I should mention that airing of the new Jericho episodes should reinvigorate the Jericho Discussion Group, which is moderated by Rourke. (Who you'll probably recognize as a frequent SurvivalBlog content contributor.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mr Rawles,
Here are a few British sites that may be of interest I found while looking at a fan site for an old TV series called Survivors which was written by Terry Nation, who also created Dr. Who for the BBC. The BBC Survivors series was made back in the 1970's and while the technology and BBC aversion to realistic weaponcraft might make many of you readers weep (myself included) the themes and storylines of a group of middle class English people who survive a plague that kills all but 1 in 10,000 people are timeless. Along with Andre Norton's old Science Fiction book 'Starman's Son' it was one of the major reasons for my interest in survivalism when I was a kid. You can order the series through the British Amazon Note: American viewers must have a "region free" DVD player to operate these DVDs!
The first site is about a book called There Falls No Shadow, together with the other novels in the series, documents the fight of the survivors of a terrorist-released global pandemic to rebuild their lives in a world stripped of all but one in ten thousand of its inhabitants. I have just ordered the book myself so can't vouch for it but the reviews seem good. The author seems to be a Scottish/Yorkshire version of yourself.
The second site is a more generic site by the Ludlow Survival Group in the UK. In particular there is a well illustrated bug out bag designed for people living in cold/wet climates.
I hope this is useful to you and your readers. Regards, - FDz

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

In your Saturday Blog of March 4th. you responded to a reader asking where to obtain David Crawford's two fine stories. Your answer for "The Bug-Out" was okay, but your response for "Lights Out" of Frugal Squirrel's site was not really a good one. Frugal has only about a quarter of David's story available. The place to go is: This will get a full 600 odd page page PDF. document with the full story plus a title page, table of contents, prolog and epilogue.
Hope that everyone who reads this enjoys it as much as I did. Best Regards, - Wise Tioga

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Hi Folks,
How about New Year Resolutions? Made any yet? We all will make plenty I'm sure. Why not make one to read the following books (if you already haven't) Patriots, Unintended Consequences, Enemies Foreign and Domestic, and Molon Labe. Also read the shareware novels Lights Out and The Bug Out. IMHO they are all excellent manuals for when TSHTF and TEOTWAWKI. They have all touched me deeply and profoundly. They have opened my eyes wider than back when we were preparing for the Y2K fire drill. The latest one that I read was The Bug Out [a short story by SurvivalBlog reader David Crawford, a.k.a. "Half Fast".] He also wrote Lights Out. I believe it was suggested by a SurvivalBlog reader. By the way, thank you. It's a short read of maybe an hour or two. Have your spouse read it as well. Heck, how's about the whole family. This would greatly help everyone be on the same page or at least understand where you are coming from (a big problem sometimes.) I would suggest that after reading it that you sit down and make a list of the right and wrong things the hero of the story did or didn't do. Review your answers with your own preparation plans. Plan accordingly. Honestly, it scared the Schumer out of me. I know we are all working as hard as we can and that's another reason why it scares me. Some of us, for whatever reason, will not be prepared. Besides Murphy's Law, I believe that nature will thin a lot of us out before we really get going. I don't want my family, myself or you and yours to be one of them. I hope this helps folks. - Larry in Kansas

JWR Replies: Thanks for making those book recommendations. Here are some sources for those books:

The Bug Out is posted online at:

Lights Out can be read in its entirety at:

The novel Molon Labe is available from Boston T. Party's Javelin Press.  (

The novel Enemies Foreign and Domestic is available directly from Matthew Bracken's web site. (

Most of the other books cited are available through Fred's M14 Stocks. As of this writing, Fred is still offering a great three book package deal: one copy of my novel "Patriots" + one copy of Matthew Bracken's novel Enemies Foreign and Domestic + one copy of Boston's Gun Bible, all for $50.

Please mention SurvivalBlog when you order any of these books!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Hello Sir,
Sorry I haven't had time to send in an update recently. I'll try to do so in the near future.
I just wanted to call your attention to an excellent short story [titled "The Bug Out"] about an ordinary man and his family attempting to bug out. I found it thoroughly gripping and informative. It aptly demonstrates the perils of being an "armchair survivalist." It's posted online at
The [same] author [who writes under the pen name by Half Fast] is also currently working on a novel about surviving in the wake of an EMP event. It's called "Lights Out." Haven't had a chance to read it yet, but if it's anything like the story it'll be a real page turner. Please check out the story, and mayhaps post it for your readers. I think they could learn a lot from it. 
Anyway, gotta be going. Hope you had a Merry Christmas. As always, stay low, watch six, and God bless. - John in Iraq

Monday, September 19, 2005

Dear Mr. Rawles, Just wanted to ask why Iowa didn't make the list of 19? If you could write a small blurb, it would be much appreciated. Also wanted to thank you for making your "Pulling Through" screenplay available. Great read!!!!!!! I can't wait for the movie. Should be done for T.V. to put out much needed info to the greater portion of the uninformed public. It would make life much easier on the rest of us to not have to inform people piecemeal one-at-a-time of things they need to know. Should be an ongoing series after "Katrina" it should be a dead certain to get a large viewership. I would think it'll run for years if you can find an intelligent network exec. to back it. Done right it would prove an invaluable tool for "Homeland Security", FEMA, etc., to get the word out that you can't wait on them, but must do for yourselves or do without! Thanks for a great site, great reads, and for reawakening the "can do" attitude. Respectfully, - K.H.

JWR Replies: I generally don't consider Iowa to be suitable for retreating if and when things get truly Schumeresque. Its terrain is not defendable, much of the state is in close proximity to massive population centers in Illinois, and its crop diversity is marginal. Parts of the state might suffice, but in essence it is about 500 miles too far east. Read my posts from early August, 2005 in the Archives for details. (In general, the east has too much population density and is downwind of too many nuke targets.)

Further, I am not familiar enough with Iowa to make any specific locale recommendations. Perhaps someone who reads the blog who lives there will send me an e-mail and enlighten us.

Monday, September 5, 2005

I just checked with both and ABE books and there's probably a couple hundred copies of The Alpha Strategy by Pugsley available from used book sellers around the country. I just ordered mine and thanks for a great blog! - J.K.

Friday, September 2, 2005

How to Find your Ideal Country Home by Gene GeRue. 1999 Edition, Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-67454.
I had my first look at this book back in 1994, when the author contacted me after having read the draft edition of my novel The Gray Nineties. (Which was then available as shareware.) At the time, Gene GeRue had just come out with his first edition. I was impressed with how thorough he was. His premises were sound, and his research was excellent. Imagine my surprise this year when I found an updated edition. It is even more thorough, and even more detailed!

GeRue systematically details the criteria to look for in a country home. He hits all of the key factors: climate, topography, soil, vegetation, water, demographics, agriculture, services, taxes, land/home prices, and so forth. He includes a lot of fairly detailed maps.

The author also includes a section on analyzing you. This is important and shouldn't be overlooked. It is important to understand your personal needs, expectations, and personality. Some people just aren't cut out for living in the country! The book also delineates between wants, needs and fantasies. Sometimes people have preconceptions that require a "whack upside the head."

This book is not all "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm." There are some great doses of reality--such as finding a job or developing a home-based business before you move to the hinterboonies. He also discusses risks such as flood plains, fire prone regions, prisons, toxic waste, radon gas, incineration, and so on. he also describes the factors in choosing an existing home versus building on bare land.

I highly recommend this book. Referring to the content of GeRue's book as a baseline, you can add the factors that you find important for a true survival retreat. (See my previous blog posts for some suggestions.)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Dear Mr. Rawles;
Nice to see your Blog.
As a recommendation, try an older book, titled "Five Acres and Independence " by M.G. Kains, B.S., M.S. It was first published in 1935, updated in 1940 and 1948, But still very relevant! You can find it on Advanced Book Exchange for very low prices. It outlines exactly what your wife has advised for breeding livestock, as well as similar programs, even for corn and vegetables, as well as fruit trees. Well worth the low cost as a second hand book. - P.W.

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