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
101 is the designation we often use when referring to introductory material. It harkens back to colleges and universities, where they often classify courses by numbers. 101 is the basic level, moving up a notch is 201, and so on. Bushcraft 101 is a great introduction to what author Dave Canterbury calls “smoothing it” outdoors. Why smoothing? Well, roughing it is when we head out to the wilderness to test our wits against Mother Nature and all her allies. Smoothing it is when we do the same thing, just better equipped to make the time spent tramping fun rather than being a chore.
Bushcraft 101 is divided into two sections. Part 1 is Gearing Up. Here, Dave covers in detail his fairly well-known 5 Cs of survivability. These are:
In each of those chapters, Dave gives great information about the importance of each C as well as how to choose the right gear for yourself. He gives his recommendations here and there but is careful to recognize what works best for him might not be perfect for you.
Now, there may be some of you who are familiar with Dave Canterbury and are thinking, Wait, I thought there were 10Cs, not 5? There are indeed 10 total. The first five, listed above, are what Dave feels are the core requirements, the absolute gotta haves. The next five are items that might not be absolutely crucial to survival but are damn nice to have. These are:
You can read more about Dave’s 10Cs of survivability here.
He also discusses choosing packs and gives a great overview of the different types available, citing pros and cons for each. Remember, though, we’re talking bushcraft here, not bug out bags or get home bags. While there is certainly a fair degree of overlap between smoothing it and bugging out, they are more like kissing cousins rather than twins.
The second section is In the Bush. This is where we get into the nitty gritty of bushcraft. From choosing a campsite to different types of fire lays, trapping to wild edibles, Dave covers it all. One of my favorite chapters in the book is Chapter 8 – Navigation. I will readily admit that land navigation is a weak spot of mine. In this chapter, Dave covers how to properly use a compass, determining distance when traveling, using a map, and several other key skills involved with figuring out where you are and how to get where you’re going.
Included at the end of the book are several appendices. Appendix A outlines the Pathfinder Concept: Conserving and Utilizing Resources. Here, Dave gives ten things to remember when it comes to conserving your resources and energy. These concepts are all very well thought out and make perfect sense, such as never pass up an opportunity to collect dry tinder.
Appendix B is on wild edibles. While really nothing more than a cursory list of plants is given, the value here is the information on HOW to use the plants you find.
Appendix C consists of several bush recipes. Now, I tend to look at recipes the same way I look at first aid information in a general survival manual — filler material. However, there are some great recipes here, many of which I’ve earmarked to try myself.
Appendix D is a glossary, which is a great resource for those new to bushcrafting.
There are no photos in Bushcraft 101 but there are several very detailed line drawings. Sometimes, I’ve found drawings to be easier to follow than photos, especially if the photographer isn’t very skilled and/or the photos are rendered in black and white.
Bushcraft 101 is truly a great resource for those new to outdoor recreation. It covers all of the basics in easy to follow steps. I have but two minor complaints about the books.
1) I wish there were more illustrations. I know, I know, those of you who have read my books have probably thought the same thing! But, be that as it may, there were a few sections in this book I felt would really have been better had there been more drawings accompanying the text.
2) I guess this isn’t really a complaint but more of an observation. The text is almost too well written, in a sense. By that, I mean there were a few instances where the language used was a bit fancier than I’d have expected in a book on this subject. Not really a bad thing, just kind of a surprise. I do rather like Dave’s preference for the term “tramping” when talking about spending time in the woods, though. Seems just somehow very fitting.
All in all, I’d heartily recommend Bushcraft 101. It was a pleasure to read and I learned quite a bit. You can find it here on Amazon as well as at any bookstore worth visiting.
I’ve always considered myself fairly well-versed in the post-apocalyptic fiction arena. After all, I’ve been a huge fan of it for three decades or so. Tell you what, I know nothing about end of the world movies compared to David J. Moore.
In World Gone Wild, Moore has reviewed over 800 post-apocalyptic movies, from the well known (THE ROAD WARRIOR) to the most obscure (SURVIVAL 1990). Each and every title is discussed in detail, from a plot synopsis to information about the people involved in making the film. Each title is also rated on a scale of 1-5, as shown in this table:
I found most of Moore’s rating consistent with my own opinions on the movies I’ve seen. While your mileage may vary on that front, you may have loved a movie he didn’t enjoy, that’s to be expected. For example, we differ on LEGION, which is a personal favorite of mine. While the ratings are a nice feature, they really aren’t the point of the book. Instead, collected for what might be the very first time is a complete list of every single post-apoc movie ever released.
The reviews are all very well written and in a decidedly informal tone. This isn’t some stuffy drama professor lecturing on and on about gravitas and symbolism. Rather, this is just a buddy who sits down to tell you about this or that movie he saw recently. If he thinks it stinks on ice, he’ll tell you that.
In addition to the reviews, there are dozens of lengthy interviews with the folks who made these movies. Actors and directors talk about their experiences during filming, their inspirations, their thoughts on the genre itself. I found several of these interviews particularly enlightening and interesting in that the actor or director seemed almost embarrassed by the work they’d done on a film. Others talked about their love for the film they’d done and were proud of their work.
One of the coolest features of the book is found at the end, where several pages are devoted to lists of subgenres. If your thing is monster movies that take place at the end of the world, Moore has given you a list of about 170 or so titles from which to choose. Looking for post-apoc comedies? He’s got you covered there as well. All told, he lists 60+ different categories or subgenres. Did you know there have been about 30 different post-apoc musicals? I sure as hell didn’t.
This is a big, heavy book. Hardcover, with 425 or so pages, profusely illustrated. Many of the photos of box covers and such are taken from Moore’s own collection.
If you are even a casual fan of end of the world movies, whether they are focused on nuclear war, zombies, or a cyber apocalypse, you’ll have great fun with World Gone Wild. I would suggest you keep a pen and notebook handy, though, as you’ll want to jot down several movies to track down later. I thoroughly enjoyed World Gone Wild and recommend it highly. You can find it here on Amazon.
Many guys have a magazine they get regularly that, when it arrives in the mail, they devour it immediately. For some, that might be Sports Illustrated, for others Maxim. For me, it is SRI. No matter what I’m in the middle of reading, no matter how engaging the novel may be, it gets put on hold until I’m finished with the new issue of Self Reliance Illustrated.
The summer issue here was no different. It arrived a couple of days ago and, as always, I’m impressed with the amount of information provided.
The cover article in this issue is Teaching Friction Fire Skills by Kevin Estela. What is unique here is that the article isn’t about creating fire from friction but how to instruct others on how to accomplish it. Many of us who regularly teach survival skills benefit from the discussion here, with the focus being on how to communicate the information needed by the student to learn the skill. The approaches here aren’t just limited to friction fire skills, either, but apply across the board.
I have to give props to Adam Cohen, author of the article Wearing Your Shelter. He talks about using ponchos for emergency shelter and gives a few different options on that front. But, here’s why I’m so impressed — Adam is all of 15 years old. Even at that young age, he knows more about survival than most folks twice or three times his age. Keep it up, Adam!
The dutch oven might be one of the most versatile cooking implements around. Yet, it can also be somewhat intimidating. There is a lot of mystique surrounding this venerable piece of camp cookware. In How to Cook Outdoors with Dutch Ovens, Melissa Norris guides us through the steps on using a dutch oven effectively and efficiently.
In Foot Care and Hygiene in the Wild, George Nikolakopoulos talks about an often forgotten yet critical component for survival planning. Remember, your feet are your transportation and if you don’t take care of them properly, they may fail at a critical moment.
Product reviews in this issue include the Kelly Kettle USA Mid-Sized Scout Kettle and The Shark Bite knife, as well as the book A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.
Folks, listen. If you aren’t subscribing to Self Reliance Illustrated, you’re doing yourself a disservice. I cannot recommend SRI enough.
A new addition to the prepper/survival magazine niche has just dropped. Survivor’s Edge is published by Harris Publications, the same people who bring us New Pioneer and American Frontiersman. Both of those are favorites of mine so when I heard about Survivor’s Edge, I had very high hopes.
I was not disappointed!
The premier issue of Survivor’s Edge contains no less than 37 articles, spanning 130 pages. The articles are divided into three sections: Natural Disasters, Home + Self Defense, and Backwoods. The article topics really run the survival gamut with discussion on everything from multi-tools to vehicle preparedness, bear attacks to pocket pistols.
Here are a few of the articles that stood out to me.
Surviving Domestic Violence by Richard L. Johnson
This is an area that is little discussed in survival literature but is something that can truly be a survival situation to many people. Here, Johnson gives us ten things an abuse victim should do, such as seek help, develop an escape plan, open a bank account, and prepare an escape bag. He also tells us ten things a victim should not do, such as thinking they are alone, ignoring intuition, and declining medical assistance. Johnson also gives information on several outside resources that are available to abuse victims.
Escaping Extreme Heat by Fred Mastison
While so far this year heat hasn’t been a big issue, at least not where I live, extreme heat is something that strikes many parts of the country during the summer. In this article, Mastison gives us several hints and tips on how to beat the heat, including eating light and being aware of how much time we’re spending outdoors.
Survival Steel by Phil Elmore
This article is a review of the JTR Fighting Bowie. This knife, produced by Martin Knives, was designed by Bob Anderson, co-author of the latest installments of The Survivalist, a series created by Jerry and Sharon Ahern (Sharon is working with Anderson on the new books). The design of the JTR Fighting Bowie is based upon the new stories, with input from Sharon as well as notes Jerry made before he passed. I have to tell you, this is a BEAUTIFUL knife! As a lifelong fan of the various books and series Jerry and Sharon have written, particularly the adventures of John Thomas Rourke, I very much want to acquire this new piece of history. The review is very detailed, leaving little to the imagination.
A Woman Survivalist in a Man’s World by Kellie Nightlinger
Many of you are likely familiar with Kellie Nightlinger, either through her appearance on Naked & Afraid or her other endeavors. Kellie has truly “been there, done that” when it comes to survival, including weeks spent in the Serengeti. This article talks about some of the specific challenges, as well as advantages, women have in survival situations.
Perimeter Protection by Kevin Estela
This article is a good overview of a few different homemade alarms you can build for use now or after a disaster. Estela also touches on using natural barriers for defense. While the article only runs a couple of pages, there’s a ton of information crammed into it.
I Survived: 7 Real-Life Tales by Ashley Bristow and Adelaide Farah
From falling into an ice hole in the Himalayas to a bear mauling, here are several short stories about people who survived disasters. Great stuff, here.
Overall, I very much enjoyed the premier issue of Survivor’s Edge. You can find them online at RealWorldSurvivor.com. Very well done, folks. Keep up the good work!
Those of you who know me or are frequent fliers here or on my Facebook page know full well just how much of an avid reader I am. While I don’t limit my book consumption to strictly survival-related stuff, that has been the bulk of it for quite some time now. In spite of having read hundreds of “prepper” and related types of books, the list of titles I suggest to everyone is rather small. There’s just a lot of crap floating out there and it seems like the good ones are becoming fewer and further between, y’know? I’m going to tell you right up front that Practical Self-Reliance by John D. McCann is a book I consider to be required reading for anyone wishing to pursue any sort of independent lifestyle. Yes, it is that good.
There are 16 chapters spanning a little over 320 pages. The book is profusely illustrated, with rarely more than a page or two between photos. From cover to cover, McCann goes through a wide range of topics, talking about everything from growing and foraging food to financial preparedness to staying comfortable in hot or cold climates, all with an eye toward doing for yourself rather than waiting for someone to do it for you.
Perhaps the best part about this whole book is the fact that the knowledge McCann is imparting isn’t just theoretical. These are lessons that have obviously been learned through hard work and real world implementation.
One of my favorite chapters is Chapter 6 — Recycle and Repurpose. As McCann notes in the book, “As you become more self reliant, old things start to take on new meaning.” Here, he shows us how to reuse and repurpose things like newspaper, wine bottles, cardboard tubes, and pallets. For those with the prepper mindset, information like this will make it easier to use supplies you scrounge after an event, allowing you to make do with what you have rather than just longing for what you lack.
As with McCann’s previous books (Build the Perfect Survival Kit and Stay Alive!), he has recommendations for specific products here and there, identifying them by brand name. This is great as it narrows down the search when it comes time to obtain the items yourself. However, on top of that, if there’s a DIY approach that is just as good if not better than a store-bought item, McCann shows us that as well. A great example of this is found in Chapter 10 — Water is Essential. Here, McCann takes us step by step through the process of building a 5 Gallon Gravity Filter System for making water potable. Honestly, folks, this project along with the smaller 2 gallon model he also includes in the text is worth the price of admission. With any of the projects in this book, the instructions are easy to follow and understand, with little left to the imagination.
One of the neatest little projects is making what McCann calls a “slush lamp.” This is the type of oil lamp where the wick floats on the fuel. Of course, I’ve seen these types of lamps in the store but hadn’t given much thought as to how I’d build one at home. Using jute twine, a cork, and a container for the fuel, McCann makes it very easy to do. This is a great option for backup illumination during a power outage, using olive oil from the kitchen for the fuel.
If you’re looking to get off the grid, either partially or completely, McCann has you covered in Chapter 12 — Alternative Power. Here again, this isn’t just information cobbled together from Wikipedia entries but projects and ideas McCann has tested and found work. For example, the idea of using solar landscape lights to provide illumination indoors at night has been around for a while. But, have you considered using them to recharge AA batteries for your flashlights and such? Of course, the information doesn’t stop there. McCann covers not only solar panel systems but also wind, water, and human power generation.
All in all, as I mentioned at the beginning, Practical Self-Reliance belongs on every prepper or homesteader’s bookshelf. It is a resource you’ll find yourself turning to again and again. To be clear, this isn’t any sort of “live off the land” survival manual. While there is some great information on foraging and such, the focus here is on how to be self-sufficient, providing for your own needs in all areas of your life as much as possible. Highly recommended!
Oh, one last thing. The back cover contains what might very well be the only known photograph of the author actually smiling. That alone should be enough to pique your interest.