I have previously mentioned the impact Dr. Clayton’s book, Life After Doomsday, has had on my life. It was the first survival-oriented book I ever read, bought with my allowance when I was in 5th grade. I’ve read it many times since and still have it on my shelf today. Dr. Clayton is truly one of the founding fathers of modern survivalism and we’re honored to have him as a guest here.
What prompted you to write Life After Doomsday? Did you have any inkling of how popular it would become?
It became popular? For a while there before Reagan’s inauguration it sold as fast as they could print copies. Afterward, it has been in continuous but very modest demand.
I wrote it because I had studied the effects of nuclear war, and I realized that the public had been deceived by a continuous and dedicated disinformation campaign with its basis in the international “peace” movement. I wanted to set the record straight. The war would not automatically kill you. Unpreparedness and ignorance would kill you. You can fix that.
Obviously, the world has changed considerably since those Cold War days. What do you feel are the biggest threats to our country today?
The Department of Homeland Security is, hands down, the biggest threat to America today. They have already done far more damage to our way of life than any group of terrorists could ever accomplish. How many terrorist groups could make us line up to have naked pictures taken of ourselves?
How do you feel the survivalist movement has changed in the last thirty years?
Some things change, and some things remain the same. The bottom line never varies. Shelter, water, food, medicine, defense. The reasons people prepare vary from one person to another, and vary from the mundane to the insane. The popularity of those reasons ebbs and flows with circumstances.
I had a family. I knew a lot about nuclear war. I took steps to move my family away from ground zero. How could I not?
If you are living in the city, you are not a survivalist. Forget it. The first thing a survivalist does is to move his family out of harm’s way. And besides, the country is a much nicer place to live. I’ve been living in the Sierra Nevada mountains for thirty years now, and have never regretted the decision to move.
Life After Terrorism was written just after 9/11. Do you feel our country on the whole is better prepared today to handle the threat of terrorism than it was a decade ago?
Due to aggressive (largely illegal) intelligence gathering, we are much more skilled at deflecting incoming threats. We are no better prepared to respond or recover than before. In terms of terrorists, however, that doesn’t matter very much. Even 9/11, hailed as a great terrorist victory, only crashed two buildings. The 9/11 attack accomplished next to nothing physically, but it prompted us to a frenzy of self-inflicted wounds and crazy spending. No part of that is better than we had before.
Let’s say you were placed in charge of disaster readiness for this country. Your responsibility would be to try and get every citizen
prepared for emergencies. What would you do first?
I’d tell them there was a massive blizzard coming that would stall traffic for at least three weeks. Better stock up!
All done. People know what to do. They just don’t do it.
When discussing emergency preparedness with people new to the concept, are there any common fallacies or mistakes you see made time and again?
Yes. They won’t discuss it.
This isn’t rocket science. Shelter, water, food, medicine, defense. Where’s the hard part? The only fallacy is the illusion that we are safe, that we can go back to sleep. All is well. Nothing to see here. Move along.
Among survivalists, the big fallacy is that you can make yourself safe by buying guns. Certainly I have guns. I also have 5000 gallons of water. Without the water, you won’t live three days on your own. Get your priorities straight.
In addition to Life After Doomsday and Life After Terrorism, you also wrote the Paladin Press series Black Medicine under the “N. Mashiro” pen name. What prompted you to write those books and why use the pen name?
The Mashiro books are self-defense books by an imaginary author. Paladin said my first drafts suffered from an over-exposure to academic textbooks. Could I punch it up a bit for their audience? I invented a somewhat ghoulish alter-ego and rewrote the books more colorfully. I didn’t want anyone to think that his attitudes were mine, so I used a pen name.
I’m a very responsible person. Mashiro isn’t. QED.
You have in the past mentioned the role shotokan karate has had in your life. What drew you to study that particular martial art?
My latest book is Shotokan’s Secret, from Black Belt Press, which details the history and meaning of the Heian katas. The people who created those katas were unarmed royal bodyguards who routinely faced opponents armed with swords, spears, knives, pistols, and rifles with fixed bayonets. They trained to take those people down barehanded. Their art presumed “one against many” and “skin against steel.” Why settle for a sissy martial art that expects both parties to be armed (or disarmed) equally? Shotokan teaches you to make a weapon of your body in the most literal sense.
For practical purposes, the best path is to combine Shotokan with Jujitsu. Neither is complete without the other.
Any new books or projects on the horizon?
I recently wrote a short history of survivalism as a preface to the new edition of Mel Tappan’s Tappan on Survival, from Paladin. That is fun to read if you have not seen it yet.
Thank you for taking the time to sit down with us. We, and our readers here, very much appreciate it!