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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Book review: Patriots

Patriots is an action-packed novel by James Wesley Rawles. It poses the all-too-likely scenario of a complete collapse of the American economy. Starting with a stock market crash, followed by crippling hyperinflation, commerce and supply chains topple like proverbial dominoes. Soon thereafter, gas/electric/water/telephone utilities and all other infrastructure fails. Nationwide, rioting breaks out, causing looters and refugees to leave the cities in search of food and other resources. The story follows several foward-thinking people, who met years before in college, as they flee to a retreat they prepared in advance in Northern Idaho.

Before the story is over, the group must defend themselves against multiple attacks by hostile outsiders and negotiate with other groups for mutual security and needed resources.

Rawles also gives a chilling foretaste as to what we can expect from the United Nations and other unelected people as they jockey to fill the power vaccuum left after our current government fails.

Some online commenters have called Patriots "a survival manual in disguise". Indeed, there are TONS of practical "how-tos" packed into this story. Subjects covered include weapons (of course), communications, selecting/equipping a retreat location, OPSEC (operations security), field medicine, and much more. In the battle scenes, Rawles explains how resistance cells are organized and how military operations are properly conducted. In reading this story, the reader will gain a basic education in nearly all topics relating to surviving a social/economic collapse of these United States, and what to realistically expect during the aftermath. Rawles writes with authority on all of this, drawing from his background as a former Army Intelligence officer.

What I did NOT like about the book: Certain aspects of the story were almost formulaic. ALL of the college buddies who came together and formed the retreat had, or obtained upon graduation, great jobs that paid beaucoup bucks, allowing them to afford many of the goodies one might expect to see on the "Doomsday Preppers" TV series. They ALL ended up with ravingly hot-looking wives who did NOT argue or fight them on the money spent on survival preps or the amount of time their husbands spent at the shooting range, learning other skill sets they would need, etc. Now come on, HOW LIKELY is that, REALLY???

Personally, I would like to have seen more "normal" type folks as the protagonists in the story. People who, other than being awake to world conditions, have normal "nose at the waterline" salaries that don't allow for ANYTHING beyond the rent/mortgage, food, car, insurance, etc; normal wives who would likely balk at some of the time and money going into preps; and normal "asleep" colleagues in college and at work who would NOT be of ANY use - and who in fact could well prove to be a hinderance - in a collapse situation; etc. Also good would have been "normal", yet intelligent folks with a "normal" array of skills. People like electronic technicians, auto mechanics, accountants, nurses, store clerks, college faculty, etc. - though granted, one of the wives in the story WAS a nurse.

Despite the above-mentioned aspects I did not care for, I still found this to be an excellent read overall. The book was fast-paced and never lagged. As an amateur (ham) radio operator, I especially enjoyed the parts dealing with communications and COMSEC (communications security). And for any shortwave listeners who, like me, have ever heard those mysterious "numbers stations", the part about codes the survivors used on the radio will prove nothing short of fascinating. Certainly the story gave an insight into basic military operations I have not found in most other books. For readers unfamiliar with the true reasons for the current economic mess, or with prepping in general, this book provides a gentle and entertaining introduction to the political and economic basis for the current economy, as well as to nearly every aspect of prepping.

Not only was I entertained while reading this book, I was further educated in certain areas which may prove useful at some point. DEFINITELY a recommended book!

Here is where I got my copy:

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