James Wesley Rawles Survivors

survivors

In Survivors, James Wesley Rawles explores the same economic disaster that occurs in Patriots from a different perspective, mostly through a new cast of characters. While the story covers the first years of “The Crunch” in the southwestern United States, the most interesting and unique part of Survivors is the story of the newly discharged American Army Captain Andrew Laine and his journey back home to New Mexico from Afghanistan. With fuel shortages, violence and chaos reigning, Captain Laine is forced to find his own way back to the United States. He travels through post-shit hits the fan (shtf) Germany, France, England, crosses the atlantic ocean to Belize, then finally goes through Mexico and into the US. Much like he does in Patriots, Rawles provides copious details in his descriptions and, with the steady stream of bible passages, the book seems tailored with a fairly specific reader in mind. While the in-depth, detailed information is useful in terms of gaining knowledge, it makes the reading tedious at times. For example, when a character encounters a new gun, Rawles goes into considerable details on the history, mechanics, durability, range and effectiveness of the weapon, making the internal dialogue and narration slightly monotonous and unrealistic. The conversations in morse code are downright painful to get through. To give credit where credit is due, Rawles has packed a lot of useful prepping information into this book. He provides detailed information on a variety of topics including the possible uses of gold and silver as currency, using morse code via ham radio, weapons, food, fuel and even gives basic instructions on how to make molotov cocktails. If you are able to handle the sometimes “preachy” chapter introductions, a lot can be learned from Survivors. Rawles writes informative, “how-to” books in a fictional format. Unfortunately, the fictional aspect often takes a back seat to his strong religious message and “prepping” information. That being said, I would read Survivors again for its crisis preparation advice and its interesting speculation about world travel after an economic disaster.

Click Here for the Audiobook Version

For those of you that are interested in learning more about James Wesley Rawles and disaster preparation, visit his blog at http://www.survivalblog.com/ . In case you aren’t familiar with his site, it is actually one of the most popular blogs in the survival/prepping arena and will provide you with a practically endless amount of useful information.

The Last Pilgrims

The Last Pilgrims by Michael Bunker is a well constructed, detailed account of a hypothetical post-apocalyptic future. The story follows the development of two apparently ethically opposed groups the Vallenses and the Ghost Militia, as they struggle to survive twenty years after the collapse of modern civilization in a post-apocalyptic Texas. The Vallenses are peaceful farmers while the Ghost Militia is made up of a group of military men that in many ways are descendants of present day special forces. While they share a similar belief in God and a self-sufficient lifestyle, they fundamentally differ in their beliefs on how to survive. The Vallenses are pacifists. The Ghost Militia are soldiers. In many ways, The Last Pilgrims plays out an internal conflict that I am sure many of us share. While we may long for a peaceful, agrarian lifestyle, it is hard to imagine a world in which such a society could exist without pressure from the more violently-inclined portion of humanity. As it turns out, the Ghost Militia and the Vallenses have formed an unspoken alliance in which the Ghost Militia protects the Vallenses from the more hostile, violent elements and in return the Vallenses share their abundant food and resources. In the new Dark Age of mankind, The Vallenses and Ghost Militia are under constant threat from The Kingdom of Aztlan which is ruthless in its quest to expand its territory, influence and resources. War, spies, traitors and assassins…give a warm welcome to Michael Bunker, the new Tom Clancy of post-apocalyptic fiction.

Swan Song

Swan Song by Robert McCammon is a chilling story that takes place following an all out nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union (The book was released in the late 1980’s, near the end of the Cold War). The earth is plunged into a nuclear winter and is a complete wasteland, devoid of plant life. The story is told through a number of unique characters ranging from a New York City “bag lady” to a pro wrestler and changes perspectives frequently as they struggle to survive. Good verses evil is a strong element throughout and the evil is certainly abundant. The bad people in this book are really bad…like Stephen King bad…in fact, one of the characters is the devil himself. Swan Song delves a little more into “supernatural” territory than I like and it is also a little on the long side but it is definitely exciting. While Swan Song wouldn’t be at the top of my list of good apocalyptic fiction, it is certainly worth reading and will provide hours of entertainment.

The Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode 7, Pretty Much Dead Already.

The Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode 7, Pretty Much Dead Already. “The Barn is full of walkers”. Now that everyone knows that the barn is full of walkers, a choice must be made: Do the survivors live in denial and pretend that they are safe within the confines of the farm and ignore the fact that there is a barn full of bloodthirsty zombies living in their midst? Or do they blow open the barn doors and accept the ugly reality of their situation? An interesting choice, perhaps reminiscent of the choice we all are facing with the world as it is today. By the end of this episode, the choice is clear, although it is far from a unanimous decision.

The Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode 6, Secrets.

The Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode 6, Secrets explores the dynamics between a number of characters in this group of survivors in the post-apocalyptic, zombie infested world. Human relationships sure do get complicated, especially when secrets are kept and this show holds nothing back. Shane sets the tone for this show when he reminds Dale that the world is no longer a place to make casual threats when he says “…if I would shoot my best friend, imagine what I would do to someone that I don’t even like…” Tailgaters beware: if civilization ever deteriorates to this point, we all better be careful with our words and actions.

Patriots

Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse, written by James Wesley Rawles tells a story about a group of people struggling to survive a drastic collapse in the financial system which leads to the worst depression in history. JWR is certainly one of the pioneers in economic collapse fiction and is perhaps one of the best known “preppers” in America. In some ways, Patriots is used by James Wesley Rawles as a pulpit where he is able to express his views on issues such as gun control and organized militias. However, if you can get past the long legal/political rants throughout the book, there is a good deal of useful information. In fact one of the criticisms about the book is that the characters are constantly going into great detail about the weapons and equipment that they use. If you approach this book with the intent to learn something about how to prepare for a disaster, you will get more out of it than if you are looking for a work of fine fiction. The characters in Patriots are developed on a very shallow level and lack any depth whatsoever. I would recommend this book only to those that are looking for information on ways that they could prepare for a disaster. The lack of character depth and the extensive politcal ranting left me less than satisfied in terms of entertainment value and fictional merit.

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The Passage

The Passage is an ambitious apocalyptic novel written by Justin Cronin that begins in the near future and spans almost one hundred years into the future. It is similar to Stephen King’s The Stand in that a virus that is being engineered in a secret government lab is released into the world. The government is working with a newly discovered virus trying to create “super soldiers”. This virus is unique in a number of different ways and takes on a life of its own through the death row inmates that are used as “guinea pigs” in the experiments. Obviously, the plan to create these “super soldiers” goes awry and the virus actually turns the victims into powerful, vampire like creatures that feed on the blood of other humans and animals. These vampire like creatures are responsible for both the spread of the virus and the destruction of the human population. The Passage is a haunting story that definitely left an impression in my mind. It is difficult to forget the armored steel passenger trains that are built during the crisis to transport survivors to safety. The Passage is a long story that is well worth the time. While some of the creations in The Passage are not new, Justin Cronin’s depiction of vampires versus survivors in a post apocalyptic world is entirely unique and satisfying.