Tuesday, February 26, 2013

“A Failure of Civility” A Book Review by Matt Bracken

“A Failure of Civility” A Book Review by Matt Bracken

First, let me apologize for the poor writing quality of this review. Normally, I write an essay and spend days and days polishing it. Not this time. I’m currently in between my “pretty” essays, but this review is just pure business, like a claw hammer you picked up at Home Depot to bang nails. Pretty has nothing to do with it, so let’s get on with the job.

Second, let me apologize to the other very kind authors who have sent me their books to review over the past months. I have read them all, most of them are worthy of their own reviews, and I hope to get to them when I can.

A few months ago, I received a copy of the new book “A Failure of Civility,” by Mike Garand and Jack Lawson. It is subtitled “How to defend and protect you, your family, friends, neighborhood and America during a disaster or crisis.” Other than receiving this unsolicited book in the mail, a book I had never even heard of before that moment, I have no connection whatsoever to the authors or to the book.

“A Failure of Civility” grabbed my attention on the first page. It begins, “A few notes to our readers…. Consider reading this book as if the authors have parachuted into your backyard as special operations soldiers to assist you in forming a cooperative protection of your neighborhood. That’s one of the things that special ops soldiers are best at…covert insertion into isolated areas to train people in how to defend themselves against inequitable justice and malicious aggression. The authors’ combined life experiences, military and law enforcement, span 80 years. With this book, we give you the tools of knowledge to enable you to teach you and others how to defend yourselves, your family and neighbors. We want you to help save lives and to keep America strong.”

Wow, what a tall order! As a long-ago Navy frogman, I wondered if they could truly match that claim in their book. They do, and much more. I read the book cover to cover—twice!—in the first week. In fact, I am so impressed with it that I have been hauling it around for the last few months, trying to encourage my friends and relatives to buy it. It’s not cheap – it costs $30. Let me just say that I would trade a dozen loaded AR-15 magazines for it and think I had gotten the better of the deal. And after the lights go out, its value would only increase.

The book is big; it’s eight by eleven inches and 394 pages long. It’s printed in oversize 14 point font. Why? Because when you really need this book, you might be in a cold, dark place, huddled by a fire. They could have printed it in a smaller format and put it out at a lower price, but they decided not to. I completely understand why, and it makes total sense to me, having read it, and understanding the conditions it is intended for.

Now, if you are a former special ops soldier yourself, some of the material in this book might be stuff you have already considered. But even in that case, when you will really need the knowledge contained in it the most, you might be shivering in the cold, malnourished, sick and stressed out, at a point when your brain will be firing on half its cylinders at best. And that’s exactly when the information inside this book will be of the most value to you and to your family. Not now, warm and on a full stomach, but later, just to assure yourself even while you are in a debilitated state that you have covered the bases and that you are making the best possible decisions for your family and for your neighbors.

If you are not a former special ops soldier, then the value of this book simply cannot be stated in 2013 dollar terms. What is the value of your family’s life, of their very survival? Pretty damn high, right? Well, that’s the value of this book. A hypothetical example of its value and its utility came to my mind since I have college-age kids. In the hands of one smart and motivated ROTC cadet at a university, the information in this book would permit the cadets to turn their campus into a fortress that would be able to hold out against almost any foreseeable calamity.

This is not just another handbook on how to build a remote fortress on a mountaintop, beginning with a fantasy budget. It takes a completely different tack, namely, how to survive in place, where you are, on your current budget. How to “bug in,” not bug out. It postulates, and I agree with this, that no single family can survive alone, hidden in a remote fortress or bunker, no matter how large their pre-SHTF budget. It assumes that you will stay in your house and in your neighborhood. And it theorizes that no single house can be fortified to hold out against hordes of criminal bandits once the SHTF. You cannot get through TEOTWAWKI on your own.

That means that you must think in terms of defending your entire neighborhood, whether that neighborhood is in an urban, suburban or rural area. A remarkable thing about this book is that it begins planning the defense of your neighborhood even before the SHTF. You simply can’t wait until the lights go out to defend your area. The book lays out plans for cleverly laying the seeds for neighborhood defense in depth now, before the crisis strikes with full fury.

I could spend thousands of more words summarizing the chapter contents of the book, but I won’t, for the sake of brevity. Please take me at my word that the contents are not another rehash of other “surviving TEOTWAWKI” books. It’s not just a collection of chapters like, “first aid” and “food storage.” It’s so far beyond that basic level that it’s hard for me to express without going on for pages and pages more. It’s full of thought-provoking material on critical subjects that you have never considered, please believe me on that.

Besides survival and defense information, the book also contains first-hand survival stories about life in a city during wartime with no power, major urban riots, and other grim topics, just to mentally prepare the reader for what to expect. A true “failure of civility” will potentially usher in a new Dark Age, when there is no law, and desperate, starving people will do literally anything to survive, including resorting to cannibalism in the extreme situations. The authors are not writing high literature, but a textbook for survival in the most horrible conditions imaginable, yet it’s always engaging and even engrossing.

At the beginning of this review I apologized for not spending days refining it to my usual standards, but I have already delayed too long in writing it. My goal here is not to impress you with my wordcraft. My goal is to encourage you to get your hands on this book while you can.

I think every American family should have at least a few months of food on hand, so that they won’t have to go out foraging during the worst periods of TEOTWAWKI. I believe that every American family needs sufficient heating material to get them through at least one winter with no electricity and no fuel deliveries. I believe that every American family needs enough firearms and ammunition to hold desperate, starving criminals at bay. And I believe that every American prepper needs a copy of “A Failure of Civility” as a reference manual for survival during the most trying times ahead. Along with the Bible, I consider it the most important book that I am personally aware of for getting through the dark days that we may be about to experience.

Every word I have written, in all of my novels and essays, has been meant as a warning to the reachable to get ready for the heavy weather that many of us see coming. Please, buy this book. It’s not cheap, it’s $30 and it’s not on Amazon. The authors are not book pros, they are just some guys with invaluable knowledge to share who are producing the book on their own. Get it now, while you can. I have zero connection to the authors, other than I believe the contents are important beyond measure. If there are other books as valuable as this one for surviving the coming storm, I haven’t seen them yet. I’m not saying they are not out there, but I have missed them so far.

My fondest hope is that in five years, the few people who remember me will laugh and say, “Matt Bracken, what a paranoid jerk he was.” A hack writer of cheap alarmist fiction, the author of a few quickly forgotten novels and essays. I hope and pray that in five years, America will be as strong, prosperous and free as it ever was.

But if not, and if you find yourself at some point cold, hungry, sick and very, very afraid, hiding in a blacked-out basement while you are rereading your dog-eared copy of this book by lamplight, you will be thanking me over and over again for encouraging you to buy it. My cheap and unimportant works of fiction won’t matter a damn at that point, but you will be damn glad that you have a copy of “A Failure of Civility.” You, your family, and your entire neighborhood might pull through the coming storm just because of this one book.

Sorry for dashing off this badly written review, but I have been putting it off for too long already, and time is one thing we are running out of, in my opinion. And sorry to the other authors who have sent their books; I hope to get to them soon. But this review can’t wait any longer. Please buy the book. And buy an extra copy or two to send to “reachable” family members. Tell them to wrap it in plastic, and save it for a time that we hope will never come.


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