My show last night on Around the Cabin was focused on survival fiction, both novels and movies. As promised during the show, I’ve compiled the following list of books and movies that I discussed during the show. All of these links lead to Amazon but I’d encourage you to seek out the titles at your local library. Even if they don’t have it on their shelves, they can probably order it for you via interlibrary loan.
For the book series I mentioned during the show, I’ve linked to the first book in the series.
Also, as I mentioned during the show, this list isn’t all-inclusive of every novel or movie I’ve enjoyed, read, or watched. Nobody has time for a list that large. If you don’t see your own favorites listed, feel free to add them in the comments below.
Ashfall series by Mike Mullin
Rule of Three series by Eric Walters
Pandemic by Yvonne Ventresca
Wake Up Call by John D McCann
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
One Second After by William R Forstchen
World War Z by Max Brooks
Survivalist Series by Arthur Bradley
The Weller by Adam Whitlatch
World Gone Wild is an excellent resource for finding additional disaster/survival movies. It is a comprehensive encyclopedia of end of the world movies. It is quite good and makes for rather entertaining reading all on its own. My full review of the book can be found here.
My show last night on Around the Cabin was focused on putting together a survival library. As promised during the show, I’ve assembled a quick list of the books I recommended all preppers have on hand in their survival library. You’ll note that I refrained from listing any of my books below. I was going to but then thought that might be uncouth or even downright rude. If you’re interested in my books, make with the clicky here.
As I noted during the show, it is critical that you don’t just stick these books on a shelf and forget about them. You should read through them, not only so you’ll know what information is found in each book but to learn the vital skills and knowledge you’ll need should disasters strike. Skills trump stuff, every single time.
Your survival library should also contain the instruction or operating manuals for all of your survival gear (water filters, radios, etc.), your home mechanicals (furnace, central air, water heater, etc.), your major appliances (stove, refrigerator, freezer, etc.), and your major tools (chainsaw, lawn tractor, etc.). A great way to store all of these manuals is to use a 3 ring binder and some page protectors.
It is important to keep your survival library at least somewhat organized, too. Knowing you have the information you need in a specific book and being able to find that book are two entirely different things.
I reviewed a previous issue of Be Ready! here. I certainly enjoyed it enough that I had to pick up the current issue when I came across it last week. This issue is even better than the last! I believe this is going to be a semi-annual publication going forward.
The first thing I noticed is that the table of contents is fairly small. A dozen articles total, not counting the editorial, that fill 94 pages. Hm, I thought, seems pretty sparse. Once I began reading, though, I understood. Where other magazines will devote perhaps a page or two for a given topic, Be Ready! will take all the space needed to cover the necessary information. For example, Don’t Leave Your Best Friend Behind by Richard King, an article that discusses how to prepare for bugging out with pets, runs 5 pages and is packed with great recommendations.
Another great article in this issue is Are You In The Dark About Night Vision? also by Richard King. As night vision technology has improved, the cost has dropped on older generations of devices. King does a fairly good job explaining the different types and generations of devices available today, allowing the reader to make a better informed decision on what to purchase.
The Prepared Purse by Peggy Robinson should be required reading for all those who carry shoulder bags. She gives some great advice on what to keep in a purse for emergencies large and small. Some of it is common sense, of course, but there are a few things you may not have thought of before.
I think my favorite article in this issue is Bugging Out by Bike (Part 1) by Alfredo Rico. Using a bicycle for a bug out vehicle is something many instructors, including myself, have discussed here and there. In this article, though, Rico goes into exquisite detail on exactly what you’ll need to pull it off. He talks about what to consider when purchasing a bike, as well as how to outfit it with bags and racks in order to carry what you’ll need. Rico also has recommendations for tools to keep you on the road, food to keep your body moving, and clothes to keep you warm and dry.
There is a lot of great information here, spanning a wide range of subjects. Other topics addressed in this issue include fire starters, choosing firearms, building a short wave antenna, and even how to plan for sex in the apocalypse.
The entire magazine is extremely well illustrated. Photos aren’t just filler but provide clarification in many instances. Advertising is kept to a minimum, too. The focus of the magazine is on providing great information, that is abundantly clear. All in all, I’m pretty impressed with Be Ready! and I’m looking forward to the next issue, which should be arriving in August. Find this and future issues at bookstores and on newsstands pretty much everywhere.
Do you have a friend or family member who you’d love to get interested in prepping? Perhaps they’ve always sort of looked down upon the subject of disaster readiness, offering the opinion that preppers are mostly whack jobs and gun nuts? The Survival Savvy Family by Julie Sczerbinski would be an excellent introduction to preparedness for those folks.
The author bio blurb on the back cover says, Julie is “…a Coach purse carrying, Go-Bag packing wife and mom of two children living in the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina.” I’ve gotten to know Julie a little bit over the last year or so as we’re both members of a few online groups. One thing I can tell you about her is she is a very genuine person. By that, I mean what you see is what you get. She never comes across as fake or as though she’s trying to be someone she’s not. That, in and of itself, speaks volumes, in my opinion.
Every one of the 224 pages in The Survival Savvy Family is packed with solid information. Here’s the Table of Contents.
Chapter 1: Family Emergency Plan
Chapter 2: The Emergency Kit
Chapter 3: Be Ready in Your Pantry
Chapter 4: Medical Readiness
Chapter 5: Financial Readiness
Chapter 6: Away From Home
Chapter 7: Power Outages
Chapter 8: Be Ready to Stay or Go
Chapter 9: Natural Disaster Savvy
Chapter 10: House Fires
Chapter 11: Home Invasions
Chapter 12: Personal Safety
Chapter 13: Ready Kids are Safe Kids
Throughout each of those topics, the focus is on common sense solutions applicable for families. This isn’t any sort of “end of the world” survival manual but rather a great book to learn how to better navigate the more everyday sorts of emergencies.
One area where I think The Survival Savvy Family really shines is in Chapter 12 – Personal Safety. There is some great discussion there on situational awareness, including a tip or two on practicing to become more effective with it. One piece of advice Julie shares mirrors something I’ve also been saying for years — trust your gut. If something feels off about a situation, get out of there.
Another thing I really appreciate about the book is Chapter 9, which is all about natural disasters. Rather than going into a lengthy discussion about what causes various natural disasters, such as tsunamis and tornadoes, Julie cuts right to the chase and gives short lists of what to do before, during, and after each type of disaster. This is an excellent approach to the topic.
Within Chapter 1 – Family Emergency Plan, Julie has a two-page list of discussion questions to use when talking to your family about disaster planning. This is a really great tool for opening up discussions during dinner and such.
As I mentioned earlier, there is little to no discussion of “big” events like an EMP strike, pandemics, or war. That’s not a complaint or a knock against The Survival Savvy Family, though. Rather, I feel this book fills a niche in the market. It is designed and written for families who have little interest in end of the world prepping but want to be better prepared for power outages and other common sorts of emergencies. This is a great book for the suburban, soccer mom crowd.
The Survival Savvy Family is written in a rather conversational tone, much like sitting down with Julie for lunch. I highly recommend it as a great primer or introduction to disaster planning. You can pick it up here on Amazon as well as find it in all major bookstores.
I will admit up front that I’ve never been much of a fan of James Wesley, Rawles, at least as far as his fiction writing is concerned. I know that puts me in the minority among the fans of “prepper fiction” but it is what it is. Different strokes for different folks and all that, y’know?
That said, I did enjoy TOOLS FOR SURVIVAL. It rather nicely fills a niche in survival literature.
Tools, for the purposes of this book, is a pretty wide open category of gear. To give you an idea, here’s the chapter listing.
Chapter 1 — Setting Up Shop
Chapter 2 — Food Preservation and Cooking Tools
Chapter 3 — Gardening, Farm, and Ranch Tools
Chapter 4 — Sewing and Leatherworking Tools
Chapter 5 — Shop Tools and Tool Making
Chapter 6 — Electrical and Electronic Tools
Chapter 7 — Mobility and Countermobility Tools
Chapter 8 — Welding and Blacksmithing Tools
Chapter 9 — Fire Prevention and Firefighting Tools
Chapter 10 — Timber, Firewood, and Lumber Tools
Chapter 11 — Rifles, Shotguns, and Handguns
Chapter 12 — Archery
Chapter 13 — Medical and Sanitation Tools and Supplies
Chapter 14 — Knives and Traditional Hand Tools
Chapter 15 — Lifelong Learning and Skill Building
Within each chapter, Rawles provides a fairly extensive overview of the tools available today to do the jobs that might be necessary tomorrow. With many tools, he goes so far as to recommend specific makes and models, based on his own experience with them. This is great information to have, especially if you are largely unfamiliar with that category of tools.
Throughout the book, Rawles also provides quick little tips or insight as appropriate. For example, buying a one-inch micrometer so you can ensure your drill bits haven’t narrowed after repeated use. He also regularly mentions investing in “old school” tools, ones that don’t require batteries or AC power, such as the old eggbeater style of hand drill. While he does feature many cordless and other power tools, Rawles points out that electrical power may not always be available.
I also appreciated the repeated insistence upon working safely. Throughout TOOLS FOR SURVIVAL, Rawles mentions the use of safety gear, such as goggles and gloves, to avoid injury. Entirely too many people overlook these simple precautions, often to their detriment.
It should be noted that a fair amount of the material in TOOLS FOR SURVIVAL wasn’t actually written by Rawles but was contributed to his website by readers. Apparently, his site is set up such that material submitted to and subsequently published on his site is covered under his own copyright, rather than being owned by the person submitting it. This isn’t a huge deal in the grand scheme of things and he is is quick to note the source of the material when it is shared in the book.
There are some sections I found lacking. For example, in the chapter on medical tools, there are several pages devoted to first aid supplies but a grand total of two sentences on dental needs. Given the known strong correlation between dental health and overall body well being, I felt this section could have been greatly expanded.
The final chapter, Lifelong Learning and Skill Building, outlines many resources for adding to your skill sets, such as joining hobby clubs and reenactment groups. These can be great, low cost ways to learn new skills and brush up on old ones, while also networking with folks who have similar interests.
At the end of the book are four appendices.
Appendix A — Your Retreat Library
Appendix B — Recommended Gunsmithing Service Providers
Appendix C — The Pre-1899 Antique Guns FAQ
Appendix D — Useful Formulas
There is also an extensive glossary. Rawles notes in the beginning of the book that he isn’t going to define terms within the text itself and instructs the reader to check the glossary as needed. I actually appreciated this because while some readers who are new to survival literature might need those definitions, most of us are already familiar with the majority of the terms used and reading the definitions within the text can be cumbersome.
It is also important to understand that, for the most part, this is not a guide on how to use the tools described. Rather, it is a very comprehensive listing of just about any tool you can imagine being used on a homestead or becoming necessary in a grid down event. Rawles gives concrete reasoning on why you’d need each tool mentioned, the purposes of the tool, and in many cases he gives information on where to obtain the tool. He also provides suggestions on what to look for if you run across a used tool at a thrift store or rummage sale, which is valuable information to have.
All in all, TOOLS FOR SURVIVAL would be a good addition to the prepper library. However, I must stress that this book will likely be of little use AFTER a grid down event. Instead, this should be treated as more of a shopping list of items to hunt down and acquire before you actually need the tools.
You can find TOOLS FOR SURVIVAL here on Amazon as well as just about any other bookstore, online or brick-n-mortar.
As the weather gets colder and the snow blows around, many of us like to huddle inside for an evening of popcorn and movies, preferably while a fire roars in the fireplace or wood stove. To that end, I’ve assembled here a short list of my own personal favorite survival/prepper themed movies. This list certainly isn’t 100% complete, containing every single survival movie I’ve enjoyed. Rather, I’m just hitting some of the high points, trying to give y’all at least a somewhat rounded list, and including selections from various genres.
As with any such list like this, you may not agree with me on some, perhaps all, of my choices. That doesn’t make either of us wrong, just different. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments.
One more thing…this list is in absolutely random order. They aren’t ranked in any way whatsoever.
Red Dawn (1984)
I first saw Red Dawn in the theater when I was a young teenager. My buddies and I were enthralled by this story of a group of kids not much older than ourselves living in the mountains and fighting off Russian and Cuban troops that had invaded America. I’ve watched this movie countless times since and still enjoy the hell out of it.
Red Dawn (2012)
When I’d first heard they were remaking Red Dawn, I was not a happy guy. How dare they take a classic movie from my youth and screw it up! Then, I saw the remake and found that my fears were for naught. They stayed true enough to the source material to make me happy, scattering little bits and pieces throughout that were homages to the original. At the same time, they made a very exciting movie, one that I’ve watched several times and have yet to tire of it. I was and still am most impressed with the performance of Josh Peck. Thanks to my own children, I’d spent countless hours watching him on various kid shows, typically playing the oafish nerd. His character here is light years away from that sort of typecasting and he handled it great.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse
This is the second movie in the long-running series and, in my opinion, the best of the lot. I’m not generally a fan of zombie movies as, of all the fictional end-of-the-world scenarios, a zombie uprising would be the easiest to survive. Picking out the bad guys is pretty darn easy, y’know? But, any list of survival movies just has to have a zombie appearance or all hell breaks loose, so this one is my choice. Watching the first movie in the series, aptly titled Resident Evil, isn’t necessary but would add a bit of background to the story here. Basically, an evil corporation came up with what is called the T-Virus, which turns people into undead zombies. The virus escapes and civilization takes a nose dive.
Tomorrow, When the War Began
This one is sort of the Australian version of Red Dawn. Group of high school kids return from a camping trip and discover their town has been taken over by foreign military forces. It is based on a series of novels by John Marsden. I absolutely love this movie. Very well done, the characters remain true to themselves throughout the flick. Sadly, my understanding is there are no plans to do any sequels.
The Day After Tomorrow
Lots of people didn’t care for this one but I really liked it. Dennis Quaid plays a scientist who is fighting to get people to understand the dangers of global warming. As his predictions start to come true, massive storms form and things get rather dicey for folks. Great special effects and the acting is pretty damn good as well.
This is NOT a feel good movie, not by any stretch. There are few, if any, chuckles. Instead, Contagion has perhaps the most realistic portrayal of a pandemic ever put on film. After watching this movie, try and pay attention to how many times you touch your face in an hour.
The Road Warrior
While it probably wasn’t the very first of the hero-in-black-leather-roaming-the-wastelands movies, it certainly is the most well known. Properly titled Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, it is the second in a series of movies portraying the trials and tribulations of Max, a former cop trying his hardest to just survive in a world gone crazy. This was the first post-apocalyptic themed movie I remember seeing and I’ve wanted a sawed off double barrel shotgun ever since.
The Day After
Some of you may recall when this TV miniseries first aired, back in 1983. It was quite an event, actually. There were hotlines set up so folks who were disturbed by the movie could call in to speak with counselors. Schools encouraged students to speak to faculty members and guidance counselors if the movie bothered them. I’ve seen it a few times in recent years and, if you overlook some of the attire and hairstyles, the movie holds up pretty well.
Okay, this one isn’t actually a movie but a TV series that lasted for 1.5 seasons. But, if you’ve not seen it yet, make it a point to do so soon. Nuclear strikes occur in the heartland and the small town of Jericho is left to its own devices. Very well done, with plenty of drama, action, and even a touch of romance here and there.
Another TV series rather than a single movie, Jeremiah tells the story of the title character, who was a young boy when a strange disease swept the country, killing anyone who had reached puberty. As a result of this plague, the world became sort of Lord of the Flies on steroids. Jeremiah is on the search for Valhalla Sector, a rumored safe haven his father had told him about before he died. There is a second season as well, though I’ve not seen it yet.
Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin play two men who survive a plane crash in the mountains and have to work together to survive. Neither is well equipped for such an endeavor and they make numerous mistakes along the way, including incurring the wrath of a rather large bear.
There are plenty more great survival movies out there. What are some of your own favorites?
I’m a big fan of author Sean T. Page. I’ve reviewed his previous books here, here, and here. All of his books are written with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Yet, at the same time, they do provide some degree of actual prepper/survival information, which is actually pretty darn cool.
In Alien Invasion: Owners’ Resistance Manual, Page does for aliens what he’s done for zombies in the past. The basic premise is that aliens are real and they are looking to take over Earth, for one reason or another. To that end, Page has assembled a ton of “factual” information relating to different alien species as well as their various agendas.
The book is designed as sort of a field manual for those planning on resisting the alien takeover. There is detailed information on each of several different alien species, from “Little Green Men” to “Insectoids” and more. Here’s a snapshot from one of those pages.
The book is obviously profusely illustrated. All sorts of diagrams, charts, and images of all manner of alien technology feature on every page.
Where the book truly shines is the great attention to detail. For example, there is a section on the history of alien activity. Having grown up as a major fan of science fiction, I naturally devoured any books I could get my hands on that dealt with UFOs and aliens. Many “historical” events listed here mirror what I recall reading in my youth.
There are guidelines for combat, with special advice for each alien species. On top of that is information relating to military operations versus civilian resistance, abduction proofing your home, building and outfitting an alien invasion bunker, and how to be an ET Prepper. All just really cool stuff.
I’m not going to go so far as to say we’re looking at a potential invasion of Greys or Little Green Men. But, if something like that did happen, you’ll be glad to have your Alien Invasion: Owners’ Resistance Manual at the ready.
This book would appeal to any fan of science fiction as well as humorous reference guides. It truly is a lot of fun and I enjoyed it immensely. You can find your copy of Alien Invasion: Owners’ Resistance Manual here on Amazon.
In the last few years, the Young Adult market has exploded with books concerning disasters and end of the world type of plots. While these books are written for adolescents, I’m here to tell you they are great reading for adults as well. Many of them are rather sophisticated and have decidedly mature themes. I’ll tell you something else — the quality of writing is often light years beyond the standard self-published disaster stories you’ll find on Amazon.
If you have avid readers on your holiday gift list this year, here are a few suggestions for you.
The Ashfall Trilogy by Mike Mullin: The series consists of Ashfall, Ashen Winter, and Sunrise. There is also a short e-book called Darla’s Story that fills in some back story on that character. I’ve read ‘em all and recommend them highly. The Yellowstone Caldera finally blows, sending the United States immediately into a total collapse. Alex is a teenage boy, home alone for the weekend as his family travels out of state, when the disaster strikes. Soon after, he decides to head out and try and find his family. Along the way, he meets Darla, a young woman a year or two older and frighteningly intelligent. As the series progresses, we see how society is trying to reestablish itself in a variety of forms. Plenty of action and a bit of romance here and there. Very well written, full of practical information along with a compelling storyline.
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen: This one has been around a long time and still holds up rather well. I’ve met several preppers who have said Hatchet was one of the books that got them interested in wilderness survival and related endeavors. Brian is the main character, a young man headed to Canada to spend some time with his father. The small puddle jumper type plane he’s on crashes in the wilderness after the pilot has a fatal heart attack. Brian is left on his own for months, with very little in the way of training or gear. The lessons in survival are hard-won, with as many mistakes as there are victories. This is the first in a series of books and, in my opinion, the best of them.
The Rule of Three by Eric Walter: The first in a planned trilogy, this book is easily one of my favorite reads (from any genre) in the last couple of years. Adam is a high school student suddenly thrust into a new world when all of the power goes out. While we don’t learn the exact nature of the EMP (electromagnetic pulse), the effects are both immediate and widespread. Adam’s mother is a captain in the local police department and his father is a commercial pilot who was out of town when the EMP hit. Adam’s neighbor, Herb, is ostensibly a retired government paper pusher…but we soon realize there’s much more to him than it seems. Extremely well researched, The Rule of Three is an engaging read.
Pandemic by Yvonne Ventresca: Extremely well written, Pandemic is both entertaining and thought provoking. Lilianna is a 16 year old high school student. A few months prior to the story’s beginning, she experienced a rather traumatic experience, about which we are given bits and pieces of information as the book progresses. One side effect of this experience is a compulsion to store food, water, and other supplies in the event of an emergency. Early in the book, Lil’s mother heads overseas for business and, soon after, her father gets called out of town to cover a story about a new strain of the bird flu that has been cropping up here and there. Dubbed the Blue Flu, it is found to be extremely contagious and exceptionally deadly. It is called the Blue Flu due to the effect it has on the respiratory system, cutting off air and essentially suffocating victims. As the Blue Flu hits Lil’s hometown, she is witness to a rapid breakdown in social order. Schools are quickly shut down, as are other businesses. The police department is overwhelmed, with citizens finding response times of two or three days to many calls to 911. Stores are wiped clean in rapid order and looters begin breaking into homes to find food and supplies.
Any of the above would make for great gifts for both adolescent and adult readers this holiday season.
I was honored to be asked to be an instructor for the upcoming Make Ready to Survive DVD series coming from Panteao Productions. These DVDs aren’t just full of footage copied from Youtube but high quality, professional productions.
While there are about a dozen DVDs total in the series, they are being released in stages, a few each month. The first three, coming in early December, are:
Trust me when I say, you don’t want to miss these DVDs!
As many of you know, my next book is titled Prepper’s Financial Guide. It will be out in February, 2015, but is available on Amazon for those who wish to preorder it. Preorders, by the way, are a great way to ensure you get the book at the absolute lowest price on Amazon. If the price drops between when you place your order and when it is ready to ship, you are charged for that lower price. And, of course, you aren’t charged a thing until the book ships.
John McCann is well known to many of my readers. He, quite literally, wrote the book on DIY survival kits. His other books are also not to be missed. They include:
I’ve long admired John for his skills, his writing style, and his honesty. He’s not one to sugarcoat things, that’s for damn sure. When I asked him if he’d do me the honor of writing the Foreword for Prepper’s Financial Guide, his immediate response was that he wanted to read it first. Made perfect sense to me, of course. I sent over the rough draft of the manuscript and once he’d read through it, here’s what he had to say.
Prepper’s Financial Guide – Foreword
First of all, I commend Jim Cobb on writing a book that fills a void in the plethora of other books that have been written in the Prepper and Preparedness genre. Prepper’s Financial Guide provides the reader with an entire dissertation on a subject that usually gets little, if any, coverage in books meant to provide you with information about preparing for a disaster. What could be more disastrous than the loss of your savings, or the devaluation of the currency that you depend on to purchase your needs?
Take heed of the information provided here. It is essential that you pay attention and learn the lessons that will help you prepare for a situation that could occur at a moment’s notice. I have long been an advocate of studying financial history as a means to protect myself from mistakes made from the past. The history of previous economic collapses is presented here and will illustrate that it has happened before, and most likely will again. When banks close and your ATM doesn’t work, what is your strategy for survival?
Many people today seem to want to follow the example of our government. If deficit spending is good for them, then it is good for you. It is, as our current deficit reflects, a recipe for disaster, both for our government and those who spend more than they make. Jim spends considerable time on presenting an approach for Debt Reduction, which is an important first step. He then describes the steps necessary to create a budget, to ensure that you don’t spend more than you make. The results will provide you with those additional finances for preparedness.
Currency is only worth something if people believe it is so. Currencies today are backed by nothing more than public support of its worth. Jim provides important information on commodity currency and fiat currency. I have always been a big advocate of owning some foreign currency in the event the U.S. currency fails. Jim takes time to address the currencies of other countries in order to provide you with options other than the currency of your own country.
As you will learn, currencies are fallible, but gold and silver will always be worth something. Precious metals, as well as minerals, are discussed and will provide you with important information to help you select those that will assist you in protecting your wealth.
A chapter I really like addresses Barter Skills, which I believe is an important aspect of preparedness. I have discussed this in books and articles I’ve written, and Jim does it justice. When money fails to be useful, the skills you have available, will provide you with a means to obtain what you need without money. It always has, and always will.
Of course, once you have valuable assets, you will need to protect them. If banks fail to open, your money will be of little use if you can’t get your hands on it. Your other valuables will also need to be secured and Jim provides various options for the protection of them.
Of course, money and skills are not your only means in which to barter or obtain wealth. Gardening and the preservation of that food is an asset. Producing your own honey, and harvesting your own meat provide assets. Many more types of activities are presented, which show you options that might be available based on your location or skills.
The bottom line is that this book is an important addition to the library of anyone who is concerned with emergency preparedness or becoming more self-reliant. Buy it; read it; and adjust your strategy, to ensure that your finances, and the ability to transact for those things you need in an emergency situation, are a part of your overall plan.
John D. McCann