At first glance it’s a book about American survivalists that would probably be a boring and unenlightening insight on the American Neo-Fascist / Nazi movement and their ideologies. I hesitated when it was given to me, as it’s not quite the reading material that I generally indulge in. So after a few weeks of it lying around, it found its way to the throne room in our house….
It starts off with the financial woes of the US (ring any bells?) and the total systemic collapse of the entire infrastructure that holds the US society together. The novel subsequently follows a group of friends (aptly named ‘The Group’) as they endure and succeed through various trials and issues that could occur in such a societal meltdown. This group of friends had foreseen the collapse of society and had taken the time to prepare for just such an event.
It’s a fast paced novel and if you enjoy a bit of skop, skiet and donner it’s right up your alley. The reading is clean and even though there are some holes in the story it’s a lot better than some of the trash that makes reading action novels tedious at times. The novel loosely takes the format of a story based manual where information is imparted in the book that would have direct application in the real world, the nice part is that the information does not detract from the story and actually enhances and adds credibility to the plot. All of the information that I have researched has panned out to be correct and much of the other stuff, specifically firearm/weapons related, us South Africans would only dream of being able to legally obtain or afford.
The strong points in the novel I believe are as follows. The high moral ground that the writer James Wesley, Rawles (the comma in the name is intentional, and an affection that he like to “possess”) takes. His unconcealed and well structured Christian overtones that set a platform as to how charity, justice and various other legalities are dispensed. It was particularly interesting for me to see how the “conservative American mind” saw certain scenarios, especially on ownership and possessive rights that people have, or should have. Next was the logical and well presented argument for what he terms “Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids” what we would call the necessities of life. Next is the practical self-sufficiency that is espoused in the novel. This self-sufficiency is pretty broad and is specifically related to personal self preservation and the ability to produce food-stuffs to feed ‘The Group’. In addition to this there is a strong emphasis on practical skills and the ability to produce for oneself where there is no other option.
The negatives of the book were sparse and that’s probably as I don’t have the knowledge of US history, customs and law that I can compare to. Suffice to say that in South Africa, Mr Rawles would probably be well ensconced within the political right, and his thinking and logic would be considered radical and shunned by a large segment of the population. That said, the information that is available in this book is phenomenal and could be put to good use. I would take heed that the majority of the weapons based information is probably illegal and should be properly researched if you intend to entertain the information.
On the gardening side, the book is pretty light, but I was glad to see that he made good mention of the need for Heirloom and Open Pollinated vegetables (probably why it was given to me) and the need to have these seeds available in the event of such a societal collapse.
I had mixed feeling about looking at a ‘doomsday’ scenario and putting goods away for such an event, however looking back over the last year we have had, Haiti, Chile and the volcano in Iceland which managed to disrupt well over a third of the world’s air travel and Christchurch. Suddenly a little insurance makes some sense. I found that at the end of the day, his reasons and my reason for wanting to be self-sustainable are not that far apart.
So finally is it worth a read? Yes, I would say definitely, on all levels. As a work of pure fiction (or should that be non-fiction) and as a very useable manual to get ones head around a number of ‘preparedness issues’.