Friday, August 23, 2013

A Book That Helped Inspire SUNRISE: Prepper's Home Defense

I’ve been working like crazy over the past six months to finish SUNRISE, the final book in the ASHFALL trilogy, while keeping up with my travel schedule. (I’ve done more than 350 presentations in 21 states over the last 20 months.) And so I’ve put off lots of stuff on my to-do list.

One of those things, unfortunately, was a review of this book:

The author, Jim Cobb, came to one of my events in Madison, Wisconsin last year, and we had a lovely hour-long chat about prepping, the Yellowstone supervolcano, and what Chicago might be like after the apocalypse. I’m not a real prepper—I keep enough supplies onhand to survive for about three weeks, which is what I figure I’d need to get through a regional disaster like Hurricane Sandy or Katrina. If the end of the world as we know it comes (what preppers affectionately refer to as TEOTWAWKI), I have a simple plan: I’ll die. I have no desire to live through the kind of events I depict in ASHFALL. Unlike me, Jim is a stone cold expert on disaster survival. He’s worked in related fields for more than twenty years, and maintains one of the best websites on prepping. I rely on people like him and their books in order to write my own.

For ASHFALL and ASHEN WINTER, I used When Technology Fails as my go-to book for inspiration. In SUNRISE, you may notice the influence of Prepper’s Home Defense throughout.

When Alex and Darla prepare the approaches to his uncle’s farm, trying to funnel potential attackers away from spots they can’t see from their lookout post, that’s an idea from page 52 of Jim’s book. Go-bags and scouting? Page 202. Lone wolf syndrome? Page 165. My depiction of Rockford, Illinois is in part based on the conversation Jim and I shared in the aisles of the Madison Barnes & Noble. (We talked about Chicago, but when I drove the route Alex and Darla would take to get to Chicago, I realized that they’d hit Rockford first and be able to get everything they needed there.)

What I particularly like about Jim’s book is its practicality. Reading it, I don’t get a sense that he has any ideological axe to grind. He’s intensely focused on what works. He points out, quite correctly, that semiautomatic rifles don’t offer particularly good “bang for the buck” when it comes to home defense. His section on martial arts is spot-on. I completely agree with his funny take on the uselessness of nunchuku as self-defense weapons. I recently started training with the Korean version, ssahng jeol bahngs, and I would NEVER try to use them in a real fight. (They are, however, a great workout for your wrists and shoulders.) He emphasizes practice—no one becomes competent with any tool, let alone a firearm, without thousands of hours of practice. (And I’ll add that competence is a perishable commodity—the moment you quit training, you start to lose your edge.)  This extends to practicing disaster evacuation, as Jim points out in a section titled “Drill, Drill, and Drill Again.”

If, unlike me, you’re serious about prepping, you should seek out serious advice. That means seeking out the experts who have no particular political or religious dogma to sell, experts who are laser-focused on what works. Jim Cobb is one such expert.

Buy Prepper’s Home Defense:

Full disclosure: I received this book from Jim for free, and I'm proud to call him a friend.