I’ve just finished reading One Second After
by William R. Forstchen – I received it two days ago – I couldn’t put it down. This is an excellent book that I fully recommend every Survivalist/Prepper/Anyone Else read. Seriously, this book is one of those that will help to open people’s eyes to just how fragile we are and just how stinkin’ hard it is going to be to survive TEOTWAWKI.
The book is based on an EMP event and most of the things in it are pretty close to all the research I’ve seen on EMPs. The survival story is quite well researched and explored as well. The book covers the time period from when an EMP event occurs to one year later and includes several of the same type of survival scenarios we read in Patriots. The great thing about this book is that it makes you think broadly about survival and just how prepared you really are for it. Reading it made me think of some areas where I can improve my preps but also made me feel that I was well prepared in several areas. The saddest part of this book is the realization of just how bad it will be for the wholly unprepared, which is a large majority of our population.
Some areas of interest from the book:
EMP Protection and Readiness
Connor has written a post about EMP protection via old microwaves and I’m now planning a future post that covers EMP in depth. This book helps you realize just how devastating an EMP attack is – and how fairly easy and likely it is. An EMP attack will knock out pretty much all power and all electronic devices – this includes cars with electronics – that are not adequately protected. This effectively puts us about 500 years back in civilization – not only do we no longer have any modern advances but most modern day Americans don’t know how to live without them. The vast majority of people have NO IDEA how to set up a system that will generate electricity, how to survive by gathering from the environment, or how to get water besides from their tap.
EMP is something that CAN be protected from, it’s just a matter of preparation. There are definitely some things that would be very handy to have protected. Finally, it was interesting to me that pretty much nobody in the book really realized at first what was happening. I’ve been aware of EMP strikes for some time and would like to think I would have realized what was going on – but then, I’m a bit different from most people.
In the book they focus mostly on community survival. It takes place in a town that is in the mountains – which does not apply to most people. It was interesting to read how the town leadership came together and what they tried (or did not try) to do. The book addresses the die off rates of those dependent on medications (after a month most people are out), overweight and out of shape, and old or infirm. It talks a lot about the ethics and morality of triage in a community and dealing with determining who gets the remaining food.
Who becomes a community leader in such a crisis? In the book, much of the town control is turned over to the emergency coordinator (FEMA?) and the mayor takes second seat. I’m not sure that we really elect our leaders based on how well they will respond to an emergency. What I got out of the book in this sense is that the best solution may be to band with a smaller community, such as your neighborhood, and have the leaders be based on their experience and skills in surviving the situation. Of course, that leader and group would fall under the purview of the town leaders but for some of us in bigger areas, town leadership has very little effect over us in such a situation.
Good Vs. Bad Communities
In the book they are basically in a “good” community – lead by people who actually believe in morals and values. They are up against a “bad” community which is lead by fat-cat bureaucrats who are worried about their own survival over that of the community. Additionally, the “good” community was concerned about the welfare of other communities and interested in banding together for the greater good while the “bad” communities saw the other communities as a place to dump citizens they didn’t want to support or as a protective shield. This again leads me to the conclusion that localized leadership is important and cooperating with the town leadership as a smaller group could be a key to success.
Accessibility of Meat and other Rations
Areas were quickly hunted out in the book – and they lived in the mountains. The book addresses the fact that most farming operations have been shunned out of existence in large community areas. As a consequence of that, domesticated meat animals are in poor supply whereas in the outcast farming communities they are abundant. However, supporting the large amount of animals would become impossible without constant deliveries of feed and would result in animals going to waste – a conundrum of our modern society. Thinking about this has lead me to consider how to band together with the local farmers in my area (I live in one of those farming communities) and make plans for how to manage in a situation like this.
The book does a great job of hammering home the medical realities of a situation like this. Huge amounts of people die off due to disease and infection. Outsiders, especially those from other countries who were stranded at airports, bring in exotic diseases to which we have no pre-built defense and very few drugs for. Rampant death brings its own disease and exposure as well which can lead to problems. On top of all this, general hygiene will be significantly different as people will likely rarely be able to bathe.
This is a big risk for smaller towns, especially rural communities. As conditions will be exponetially worse in big cities as they are in small towns, refugees will be flooding out of the large cities and inevitably head towards small towns. Dealing with an influx of refugees brings a great moral dilemna – do you allow your own community to suffer and greatly deplete the available food resources in order to keep the refugees allive? Or do you forcibly control the refugee population and move them out without allowing them access to your food?
Immediate Need of Resource Gathering
The book points out many potential resources that are overlooked in the begining – the biggest being trucks on the road that are full of food – much of it perishable. In an EMP type scenario, trucks will be littering the freeway and will either be raided by the population or will hopefully be harvested for rationing. For preppers who are already stocked with most things need there isn’t as much immediate panic, but on day one supplies will be taken and hoarded – hopefully by those who will be wise and fair stewards of it.
Long Term Survival – Food Reproduction
The book covers everyone eventually tearing out their lawns and building “Victory Gardens”, they also cover stock management a bit. The key takeaway here in my mind was that everyone needs to have a good stock of seeds and should already be planting a garden large enough to provide for themselves. Many people will die in the time it takes for a harvest to roll around.
It is unfortunate that our society is so absorbed with “pretty”. Lawns and decorative trees are a complete waste. If all trees were fruit bearing, things would be drastically different in a TEOTWAWKI situation. Lawns, while useful for certain activities are generally a waste of time, resources and space. Imagine how well a TEOTWAWKI situation would go if everyone had gardens instead of lawns, fruit instead of decorative trees and a domestic meat animal or two and some egg laying chickens in their backyard. Our pride, envy and self-absorbed obsession with pretty yards will likely ultimately be the death of us.