Patriots is a very good TEOTWAWKI manual, in novel format. The author, James Wesley Rawles of Survival Blog strings together many of the potential scenarios that could occur in the aftermath of civilization’s collapse, and demonstrates how those situations might be dealt with. The what and the why are well explained. While some of the situations are not probable, they are possible, and I think the extremes are used to illustrate what to do “just in case.”
The theme of Patriots is financial collapse that set off a chain of events overwhelming our high-tech but extremely fragile civilization. The cause could just as easily have been a limited nuclear war, a plague (natural or man-made), or any of the other TEOTWAWKI scenarios that leave some alive. What matters is what to do if any of those occur.
I consider this book to be essential reading, even considering some of the improbable scenarios. Read this for the information, not the story, or you’ll be disappointed with the dialogue and the lack of character development.
After reading the first five chapters of Patriots over two days – but before reading the sixth – I felt extremely unprepared, relative to the main characters in the book. I’ve always had somewhat of a survivalist mindset and considered myself somewhat squared away, at least with preparations for comfortable sheltering in-place during a minor or short-term catastrophe. But the amount of time, money, research, and detailed planning carried out by the main characters of the book was truly daunting. I wasn’t sure where to get started.
Along came chapter six, “Lawyers, Guns, and Money,” which I suspect chapter was added specifically to allay the fears of those who’d just read the preceding chapters and felt it would be futile to even attempt to prepare.
The brothers who are the main characters of chapter six and seven, do not interact with the characters in the other chapters, and are not mentioned again. Their utility is that they demonstrate how even the completely broke can devise and execute a plan for being prepared. I won’t elaborate further than to say that if they could do it, anyone can – if they are willing to spend the time doing so. That’s the good news of chapters six and seven.
The slightly disturbing news is that, if it offers a window on the authors beliefs, is that some of those beliefs are on the true fringe. For example, the long explanation of why one does not need a drivers license to drive, or a federal firearms license (FFL) to sell guns as a dealer. The same tone as those who say the federal government has no basis for collecting income tax – if you don’t believe their convoluted explanation of laws, you’re an incredibly gullible and ignorant fool.
Some of the things Patriots covers in detail are;
- Selecting group members, firearms, vehicles, and retreats
- Storing/preparing food and access to water
- Training for conflict and defending the home
- Trade and barter
- Dealing with bandits and tyranny
Much more than that, but if you’re reading this you’ll probably of the mindset to read to read the book.
Having said all that, I do have a few additional criticisms.
First and foremost, none of the main characters had children, at least at the outset of the storyline. For all but two of this group, the plan was to get out of Dodge (G.O.O.D) and evacuate to the retreat in Idaho. That is a much easier when not encumbered with young children, as most of us are from our late 20s/early 30s on.
Second, all the spouses/significant others in the book were completely on-board with survivalist preps and the time/financial considerations that takes. That’s realistic if one is of that mindset early enough to limit potential mates to those of like mind, but my hunch is that in the real world many spouses will not go along so easily (actually I speak from experience here, on both criticisms, but that’s for another post – maybe).
If those issues had been addressed with some of the main characters, IMO, the book would have been more complete. Those of us with these issues need to be aware of the additional planning required.
The third criticism – setting the bar too high, especially financially – was partially allayed by chapters six and seven, but not completely. The main characters must have poured tens of thousands of dollars a year into getting ready, which for most people is completely unrealistic.
Fourth is guns. There seems to be a focus on .308 and .45, and a disdain for weapons in 5.56 or 9mm – the AK-47, SKS, and Mosin Nagant barely got any mention whatsoever. Considering how much cheaper those proven firearms are and how much cheaper their ammunition is, I think that’s a grave oversight. Or perhaps it’s not an oversight and the author believes those calibers are inferior, which I would have to absolutely disagree with.
Lastly, legality. Some of the things the characters do, even before the collapse, are illegal. After the collapse it doesn’t matter, but these days it does.
Those that read this book and accept that our globalized civilization is in reality extremely fragile – or already understood that but see some of the potential consequences in Patriots – are likely to be on the path to making some life-changing decisions. If you live in an urban area you may consider moving, or at an absolute minimum making detailed evacuation plans (that’s where I’m at) to a safe place (luckily we do have a place to go).
At just over $10, the author is not out to make money but provide a public service.