Bug Out Skivvies

If you’d asked me when I started this website if I’d ever write about underwear I’d have given you an emphatic “NO!”  But the topic seems to come up from time to time and believe it or not it really is preparedness related.  In a previous post I described the Magic Fireproof Underwear that I wore in Iraq.  Here at Prepography we often borrow heavily from our military experiences to advise our preparedness activities but we aren’t wed to them when something else will work as well or provides a better value so today we’re talking about my new Bug Out Skivvies!

Once or twice a year I update my bug out bag which largely does double duty as my get home bag.  I strip it down, check expiration dates and function check all the contents before deciding what I want to update or change based on new skills, knowledge or tweaks in my preparedness philosophy.  One piece of knowledge that I’ve added since moving to The Hermitage, our homestead is that cotton underwear just doesn’t do it when they’re sure to get wet from sweat or rain and you’ll be spending large amounts of time trying to stay warm and/or avoid chaffing.  I did have previous experience with the XGO underwear (the magic fireproof underwear with moisture wicking properties) I wore overseas but frankly I’m a briefs wearer and boxer briefs (which is what XGO makes) are all well and good when the twigs & berries are in jeopardy from IED generated fire but definitely wouldn’t be my first choice in areas that are to date…virtually IED free.

I’ve been actively reading the past year or so about ultra lightweight travelling and ultra lightweight hiking tips, tricks, techniques and gear and have been incorporating some of what I’ve learned into my Bug out bag.  One of the pieces of ‘gear’ that virtually everyone in those communities recommends is ExOfficio brand underwear so I decided to give them a go.  I discovered that:

  1. ExOfficio brand products offer the same or better wicking protection than I received from my XGO underwear

    Magic Fireproof Underwear

    XGO Magic Fireproof Underwear

  2. ExOfficio brand underwear costs about 2/3rd’s the cost of the XGO underwear, just remember that XGO provides fire protection and ExOfficio synthetics would likely melt under high heat
  3. ExOfficio offers briefs and boxers as well as the boxer brief style that XGO offers (XGO does offer some balaclavas and long underwear options that have value as fire retardant layers though)
  4. ExOfficio is treated with an antimicrobial just like XGO.  While they describe their technology differently they both help eliminate odors and keep your privates healthy.
  5. ExOfficio offers outerwear layers made of the same moisture wicking material
  6. The ExOfficio briefs I ordered weigh significantly less than my XGO boxer briefs.
  7. ExOfficio brand underwear costs about 2/3rd’s the cost of the XGO underwear, just remember that XGO provides fire protection and ExOfficio synthetics would likely melt under high heat

I’ll spare you the details of the 2 day stress test I put my new Bug Out Skivvies through but suffice it to say that they came through as all the ultra lightweight testimonials described.

Bug Out Skivvies

ExOfficio Underwear

ExOfficio underwear is available for both men and women.  It is made of 94% nylon and 6% lycra which is light weight, wicks moisture effectively, provides great comfort and dries out quickly.  In fact after testing this underwear I’ve reduced the pairs of underwear in my but out bag to 2 pair of underwear…I’ll wear one and wash one…no need to wait for it to dry either…just roll them up in a dry towel after washing and they’re ready to wear…hang them off your pack or set them in the sun for a few minutes if you want them 100% dry.

While XGO products would be my go to choice in a war zone or for fire fighting operations, I’ve found ExOfficio brand underwear to be as comfortable to wear to the office as it is to sweat through all day on the homestead (no chaffing).  Additionally, while more expensive than cotton briefs they are cost effective as compared to other wicking garments like those made by XGO and are extremely light weight.  My new ExOfficio briefs have already replaced all the bug out skivvies in my bug out bag / get home bag, I’m going to buy enough pairs to use while traveling and will likely replace much of my daily wear unmentionables as I wear them out as well.  In fact they aren’t just good for bug out skivvies but good around the homestead or working outside as well.  If you try them out, let me know what you think.

ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Brief,Charcoal,Medium

 

The Short Answer On The “Debate” about “American Sniper”

I read Chris Kyle’s book “American SniperAmerican_Sniper_poster” and think it is one of the best books out there. By all accounts, Clint Eastwood and company have done it more than justice with the recent movie version they created. On the heels of its release, there has been a fire storm of progressives* decrying the effort and besmirching the memory of Chris Kyle; a true American hero. They’ve called him a hate filled racist, said he reminds them of fictional Nazis, and more. It has raised a bit of debate on the matter. Well, I have the short answer on the subject for you Prepography readers:

A: It’s not about the fact that the sniper shoots, it about the fact of why the sniper shoots that is important.

You can take the stance that all snipers are equal because they shoot. In which case you are also saying that every ideology behind the shots are equal. Or, you can take the stance that “why” the sniper shoots is what ultimately matters. In which case you are making a moral judgement behind the ideology of why the shot was taken.

In the end it comes down to this; either you think the ideologies that leads to death camps and killing children with drills is equal to the ideology that values life and individual freedom (even if it doesn’t do it right all the time), or you think there is a moral difference between them.

You may ask why I am bringing this up on a preparedness site? Well, I’ll tell you. The morals that guide a person are what matters. If you can not make the moral distinction between differing ideologies, cultures, and values, as is the case for the former, I want to know. I want you to declare it to the world, for all to see. Shout it from the rooftops, and post about it on every blog you haven’t been banned from. I want people like me to know who will be a threat when the time comes. If you are the latter, I want to know because if you are not an ally, you, at the very least, will not be an overt threat should the SHTF.

A bit dramatic; probably. It is what it is, though; deal with it.

Andrew’s Note:  I recently took my Navy veteran father to see the movie and it’s one hell of a movie…but make sure to read the book!

* Henceforth, I will no longer be referring to leftists as “liberals”; they will be referred to as “progressives” or “leftists”.  They are the polar opposites of what classical liberal thinking is about, and I will no longer be an accomplice to the abuse of the English language.  It is an ingrained habit, so if I slip and use the term liberal when progressive or leftists fits better, I apologise.

Cogitation – The Woosification Of American Men

A buddy turned me onto the Creek Stewart survivalist show called Fat Guys In The Woods on the Weather Channel.  It’s not exciting, it’s not fancy, it’s not high drama but it is a great show to learn about bushcraft and the woosification of American men.

Each episode revolves around three couch potatoes who are stuck in a rut of some form and need to make a change in their life.  Creek’s goal is to help his rotund padawans build self confidence to move forward in their lives outside the woods.  Creek’s approach is similar to that used by Outward Bound but revolves primarily around primitive wilderness skills.  The guys enter the woods and Stewart walks them through shelter building, food acquisition as well as water acquisition and purification.  By the end of their week in the woods the fat guys have developed some basic bushcraft skills which they get to put to the test by striking out on their own for the final day and night.

For thousands of years, man lived wild and our triumph over mother nature defined who we were. We were rugged; we were strong and as we evolved our ingenuity led to towering achievements. We secured our place at the top of the food chain and now we have the waistline to prove it… Get off the couch and come out to the woods. Creek Stewart

The show seems to go out of their way to pick guys that haven’t spent a lot of time outside or in primitive environments and most of the fat guys seem to rise to the occasion and learn important life lessons but what amazes me is how many of these grown men fall to pieces when it comes time to kill game to eat.  Whatever happened to Dad and Grandpa taking their young men into the woods and teaching them where their food really comes from?

Before your steak hits the grill it had a face and that’s OK…that’s the way the food chain works, the way God intended it and it is a very good thing to be at the top of the chain.  There’s no reason to be squeamish about taking a more active part in dispatching and butchering game and livestock…in my opinion it’s not just a good set of skills (dispatching & butchering animals) to have but is also is a more honest approach than believing that your protein comes from cellophane and Styrofoam.  Preparedness goals aside…shying away from taking part in the acquisition and preparation of one’s protein is just another symptom of the woosification of American men.

Fat Guys In The WoodsThat said, check out Fat Guys In The Woods, it’s a much better show than the majority of what passes for entertainment these days…oh and check out the incredible bug out vehicle that Creek pulls up in at the beginning of most episodes…a lot of us followed him making this truck on his Willow Haven Outdoor website over the past couple of years.

Survival Library Review – Pole Shift Survival Information

Pole Shift Survival Information – Survival Library Review

This review is about a very interesting web-site that one internet denizen described as a “survival library on crack”.  We here at Prepography have to agree.

Pole Shift Survival Information bills itself as being for “for those who wish to improve their chances for survival after the coming pending pole shift. ”  Don’t let that description fool you though.  The site is much more than that.  This site presents the online reader with a survival library that is a treasure trove of useful information.  Even if you aren’t worried about the potential for a pole shift the information presented would come in handy for any survival or TEOTWAWKI situation.

Pole Shift Survival Information is a bare bones site with over 4,000 files available.  The content list covers a multitude of subjects from A to Z.  Actually, the last subject currently listed is  “Worms”, so that would be A-W.  Each topic links to a page listing PDFs on that subject.  The PDFs range from practical “How-To’s” to more in-depth articles with subjects including rebuilding infrastructure, family planning and more.  The PDFs are mostly scans from a variety of sources including government and educational handouts as well as trade magazines and self sufficiency/homestead magazines like Back Woods Home and Mother Earth News.  The PDFs are also downloadable, so the reader could transfer them to an off-line source for future reference.  This is a fantastic survival library for the Prepper or self-sufficiency minded to use.

I highly recommends visiting the site, as it  hasn’t been updated since Jul 2013. This site could sit unchanged for years to come, or it could disappear tomorrow.  Use it while you can

Under A Graveyard Sky – A Review

Under A Graveyard SkyWe don’t talk much about zombies here at Prepography… except on Halloween when the zombies come out to play… so when I heard that one of my favorite military writers, John Ringo had tried his hand at the zombie genre I couldn’t help but pick it up with an eye towards a Halloween zombie book review of Under A Graveyard Sky…but then I liked it so much I read the whole series…

John Ringo’s a military veteran and specifically a veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division where I spent my first few years in the Army.  From the first time I picked up one of Ringo’s military science fiction books I found myself recognizing the characters and the conversations he wrote because that’s how we thought, talked and related back in ‘Division.’  As he developed his writing craft he expanded his vocabulary to speak the language of other services.  In this latest series, Black Tide Rising John channels his inner Marine…but more about that later.

Islands of Rage & HopeUnder A Graveyard Sky and it’s sequels To Sail a Darkling Sea and Islands of Rage and Hope (Strands of Sorrow is due out early next year) take place in an apocalyptic near future where a bioweapon has been released on the world.  This bioweapon was engineered not only to attack the U.S. but to do so in a way that plays on the terror that we’ve built into the zombie genre.  The zombies aren’t supernatural creatures or the returned dead… they’re victims of an artificially created pandemic designed to bring out the basest and most violent tendencies of the human race.  With the disease’s rapid spread throughout the world there’s no place safe even for those who are lucky enough to have received the morally questionable vaccine.

The story centers around the Smith family.  John, Stacey and their daughters Sophia and Faith are Australian born naturalized citizens and Preppers.  John was an Australian paratrooper who moved to the U.S. and became a history teacher.  Through a series of fortunate events the Smith family is able not just to become vaccinated with an experimental vaccine but also to escape to the only place that John thinks will be safe in this new world…the sea.

To Sail A Darkling SeaEventually the Smith clan comes to realize that they are the only hope for those trapped in compartments aboard the other boats and ships they encounter and begin conducting naval boarding and clearing operations to rescue the uninfected trapped behind bulkheads and secure the resources necessary to supply their ever growing flotilla of survivors.  Once they rescue a group of U.S. Marines the ship clearance ops gets even more interesting as a teenage girl must teach U.S. Marines the proper method of clearing a ship when the enemy’s only weapons are their hands and teeth.

The zombie virus phenomena is well thought out, well explained and well executed.  I didn’t find the characters in this series to be as interesting or relatable as I have come to expect from Ringo and the daughters youth  was very distracting to me (I’m not sending my teenage daughter on ship clearance ops) but the description of shipboard clearance operations was as fascinating as it was creepy.  I received some training years ago in building clearance operations and can only imagine how much more nerve racking it would be to clear compartments on ships and boats where there’s no light, no where for opponents to slip away (not that zombies try) and the use of my favorite clearance weapon, the grenade is as much of a danger to you as it is to your opponent.  I have renewed respect for Marines and Coasties!

“What happens in the compartment stays in the compartment.” My favorite line from the Black Tide Rising Series

Strands of SorrowThis is the thinking reader’s zombie series…if Robert A. Heinlein had written a zombie story, this would be it. and the first two books reminded me especially of a Heinlein tale because the same elements are there…a family forced into extraordinary circumstances, military discipline layered over family dynamics and the struggle for resources.

All in all this is a great read whether you’re a zombie genre fan or not…I can’t wait for the next installment to be published.

SHTF Gun: The Under-appreciated Rossi Trifecta

The Rossi Trifecta: Introduction

Looking for a SHTF gun?  Recently, I read a very good article that was been re-posted around the web entitled “Building A Survival Arsenal On A Budget“. It gave some very practical advice on which SHTF gun, pistols, rifles and shotguns, would fit in to a survival plan on a budget. Common features on many a low priced SHTF gun is a break action and single shot capability.  To fill the niche for a rim fire SHTF gun they featured the Chiappa Little Badger; a neat little break action .22LR rim fire which comes in around the $170 price range. I couldn’t help but think that for $100 more I could fill the niche of a rim fire .22 in my SHTF gun arsenal, as well as a shotgun and a center-fire hunting rifle with one package. That package is the Rossi Trifecta Youth Combo.

The Rossi Trifecta: Description

The Rossi Trifecta is an extremely versatile shooting system that lends itself for use as a SHTF gun.  It combines a black synthetic stock with three calibers of interchangeable barrels.  They are a .22LR rim fire, with adjustable fiber optic sights.  A shotgun, with bead front sight.  Lastly, a center fire rifle, with adjustable fiber optic sights.   The barrels change with one screw and no tools.  You can get the Rossi Trifecta in several different flavors:shtf gun rossi_trifecta bag

  • 22LR/ 243 Winchester/410 shotgun (available with a green stock)
  • 22LR/ 44 Mag/ 20-gauge
  • 22LR/ 7mm-08 Remington/ 20-gauge
  • 22LR/ 243 Winchester/ 20-gauge (this is the one my family has)

The set also includes a scope mount base, hammer extension and removable cheek piece allowing adjustments for proper fit with each barrel. The Rossi Trifecta sets also include a custom carry case to hold the gun and barrels in take-down condition.

The Rossi Trifecta: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The good: The Rossi Trifecta can fill three niches ias a SHTF gun, in one package. That package is reasonably priced. In a SHTF scenario, it gives you the ability to to take small game, fowl, and larger game. The gun system weights about 6.5 pounds when taken down and packed, so it is extremely portable. It is a break action gun, with simplicity at its heart. It will fit inside a Ruck-sack, or just as easily strap on to the outside of one, as well. You can customize it as the rifle barrels will take a scope rail.

The bad: Rossi Trifecta is a youth gun, and is scaled as such. Due to the shorter barrel lengths accuracy suffers, especially on the shotgun and larger caliber rifle barrels. Addition of a scope does alleviate this problem a bit. It is still there, though. Another issue associated with the length is, well…the length of the gun. The barrel lengths are 18.5″ for the .22LR, and 22″ for the rifle and shotgun barrels. The stock is 15″ in length, giving respective overall lengths of 33.5″/37″/37″. The gun fits children, young adults and most women perfectly. For a full sized man, it can be a bit of an effort to hold the gun properly. It can be done, though. In shotgun and center-fire configuration there is a bit of a kick, as well; due to the barrel length and weight.

The ugly: I am not going to lie, the reviews you’ll read of the Rossi Trifecta are mixed, at best. For every 4 or 5 star review, there are several 1, 2, or 3 ones. A majority of the bad ones have to deal with the accuracy, as well as a bevy of complaints about mis-fires on the early models.

The Rossi Trifecta: My Personal Experience and Thoughts

Here’s the point where I will attempt to tie the good, the bad and the ugly of the Rossi Trifecta up in to one nice bundle for you. Hopefully, I can give you a little perspective and help you decide if it is a SHTF gun for you. My son received the Rossi Trifecta youth combo for Christmas around age 12 or 13; he is now 21. He lost interest in it, so it was handed down to my daughter. She used it to learn to shoot, as well. She still uses it from time to time, even though she has graduated to more adult guns. Now, the gun is considered to be my gun, because I am the only one that still shoots it on a (semi)regular basis. Over the years my children had the gun, I used it at various times. I’ve taken squirrels with the .22LR, shot skeet with the 20-guage, and even took my first doe with the .243.  [Andrew’s Note:  My oldest’s first gun was a Rossi rifle/shotgun system as well]

shtf gun rossi_trifecta scoped

Rossi Trifecta with mounted scopes

I’ve attached cheap rails and Bushnell scopes to the rim fire and center fire barrels. As long as I don’t bang the case around too much, they hold a zero reasonably well. This is true even with the movement of the break action when reloading. I can accurately hit a 2″ target with the .22LR at 25yds all day long. The .243, with its flat trajectory, is laser straight at 50yds and I can hit a pie plate sized target at 150yds more often than not. That type of accuracy may not be competition worthy. When looking for a SHTF gun it  isn’t as big a consideration.  If you are looking to drop a deer or other larger game in a survival situation it works perfectly fine, especially at short ranges.

With that said, the concerns about the accuracy of the Rossi Trifecta are valid. Over iron sights, it is difficult, but not impossible, to hold decent groups. Out past about 20-25yds the pattern on the 20-gauge isn’t the greatest, either.  My take on the matter is this. There are sacrifices that must be made in a gun system like this. For the price of some accuracy, you gain versatility and portability. A gun like this will never perform as well as a single purpose gun, unless you want to drop large sums of cash.  That kind of defeats the whole purpose of the exercise of finding a low budget SHTF gun.

The concerns about the misfires may have been valid at one point. In my experience Rossi has since fixed any design flaws (if there were any) that may have caused this issue. The only time the gun has misfired for me is when it is extremely dirty. Carbon builds up on the face of the receiver and the firing pin won’t strike properly. Another problem caused by a dirty gun is that shotgun shells will get stuck in the chamber. They easily come out with a bore punch. Both issues are remedied by a quick cleaning of the gun. It should go without saying that thorough cleaning between uses also helps keep stoppages due to fouling to a minimum.  Any SHTF gun you choose will need regular cleaning to function properly.

As a SHTF gun, the Rossi Trifecta could be easily carried and used. The ammo for all three configurations could end up weighing more than the taken down gun itself. I am a big guy, so that doesn’t really concern me. I can pack a lot of weight. For a smaller guy/gal it could pose a problem.  Distributing ammo among your group would fix that issue. As a SHTF gun it is not optimal as a defensive weapon. Still, in a pinch, I’d rather have this than nothing. Hopefully, if things have gone South, you won’t find yourself in a situation where this would be the only SHTF gun available for defense. If need be, it would give you the ability to accurately engage a target well beyond pistol range with a round that will stop a man.

The Rossi Trifecta: Is it a SHTF gun?

rossi_trifecta1As a SHTF gun, I think the Rossi Trifecta is a perfect fit for the survival hunting role.  This is especially true for those on a budget, or those looking for the most “bang” for their buck. As noted it is extremely portable. From personal experience, I can tell you it is extremely rugged to boot. At around $280 you can get the versatility of three guns that would cost you $350 on a low, low budget and up to $800, or more, on a moderate budget. I think a lot of the bad reviews about the Rossi Trifecta, especially in regards to accuracy and the kick, are more due to unrealistic expectations than anything that is ‘wrong” with the gun. Is it a top performer in any of the 3 niches it fills? No, it isn’t by a long shot… but it does perform in an acceptable manner in all three roles. For what it is, and what it does, I think the good out-weighs the bad, and one would be well served by the Rossi Trifecta as a SHTF gun.

 

Sanctuary: A Post-apocalyptic Novel – Book Review

Sanctuary: Introduction

Sanctuary: A Post-apocalyptic Novel” by G. Michael Hopf is the third in his “The New World” series. After purchasing and powering through the first two novels in the series; “The End” and The “The Long Road,” I was anxious to crack open my publisher provided review copy of Sanctuary and see what happened next..

Andrew’s Note:  You can read Grumpy G’s reviews of The End HERE and The Long Road HERE if you haven’t already. 

Sanctuary: A Brief Synopsis

Surviving the attack proved to be more than they could have imagined… “Sanctuary: A Post-apocalyptic Novel” takes place months after a devastating Super  EMP attack, and nuclear strikes which crippled the US, Europe and parts of Russia and the Far East. The country has slid further into chaos, as millions starve and gangs and lawlessness stalk the cities and country-side. The main characters, Gordon, Samantha, Sebastian, Barone, Connor and Pablo all set upon their own paths to seek vengeance, try to rebuild and consolidate, or simply survive.

Sanctuary: A Bit More

“Sanctuary: A Post-apocalyptic Novel” takes on a more epic tone. The main characters are all in search for some sort of sanctuary. Vengeance is dealt out by several characters. Allies gained in “The Long Road” are lost and new ones created. The overall tragedy of the story increases on all levels. Some try to build empires and brutal methods are often employed.  The morality of some characters’ choices are brought in to question, while others gain clarity after suffering untold hardships. Friends and family are reunited and new alliances formed.

Sanctuary: The Critique

I am just gonna come out and say it. Out of the three books so far published in the “The New World” series, “Sanctuary: A Post-apocalyptic Novel” is probably the weakest. Now, don’t take this to mean I did not enjoy the book. I really did. G. Michael Hopf has crafted a very engaging story for those that enjoy end of the world type fiction. The story in this book just feels a bit rushed. There are several scenes that come off as contrived, simply to speed the story up, and several story arcs come crashing together in the last bit of the book in a fashion that just seemed too convenient for me.

With that said, “Sanctuary” takes the series to a place where its vistas truly open up. While “The End” focused on the characters on a more personal level, and “The Long Road” started to open up the character’s stories more to the larger events going on around them, “Sanctuary” sees them starting to take center stage in the larger drama that is taking place after the fall of the US. In the canon of “The New World”, “Sanctuary” lays the ground work for the characters to attain the epic status that the story hints at.

Sanctuary: Final Thoughts

Sanctuary: A Post-apocalyptic Novel” is another fine addition to the “The New World” series. While I don’t think it is as strong an outing as the first two books, it is a jamming good read. Final judgment on ‘Sanctuary,” at least for me, will most likely come with the addition of the next installment in the series.

Sanctuary: A Post-apocalyptic Novel

Product Details 

  • Series: The New World Series (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (May 27, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014218151X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142181515
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces

The Long Road: A Post-apocalyptic Novel – Book Review

The Long Road: Introduction

The Long Road: A Postapocalyptic Novel (The New World Series)“, by G. Michael Hopf is the second book in his “The New World” series. If you read my review of the first book in this series, entitled “The End,” you’ll know that I am on a quest to reach a point where I can read, and review, the third book, “Sanctuary“, without dropping in to the middle of the drama. I powered through the first novel over the course of a weekend. I finished this one in short order, too. I  am going to review “Sanctuary” next.  First, it’s on to  a review of “The Long Road: A Post-apocalyptic Novel”.

The Long Road: A Brief Synopsis

“The End” was just the beginning of the new world”, states the blurb for “The Long Road: A Post-apocalyptic Novel”. This second book takes up the story of Gordon Van Zandt, his family and friends 6 weeks after a Super EMP attack, and nuclear strikes cripple the US. The chaos and danger of the previous weeks were just a prelude to the desperate times that now face the survivors. There are new allies gained, and enemies made. The chaos and tragic loses that Gordon, and his family face are just a mirror of the wide-spread death and suffering that envelops across the land. As everyone travels towards what they hope is safety, many perils face them.

The Long Road: A Bit More

Unlike the review of the first book, there might be some mild spoilers here.  Read on at your own risk. Like the first book, this one encompasses more than one story arc. They criss-cross; they are separate tales, though. In “The Long Road: A Post-apocalyptic Novel”, more and divergent arcs are introduced. Gordon, his wife and children, along with a band of close friends have escaped what had become a death trap in San Diego. As they travel towards the safety of their Idaho retreat, they are faced with a new and even more deadly threat. Loses are incurred, and new allies made. Sebastian leaves the Marine Corps and finds safety with a new group, as he goes in search of Gordon. The story of COL Barone, the mutinous Marine Colonel. who brought Sebastian, and the rest of his Marines home from Afghanistan, fully diverges from Sebastian’s tale. President Conner, and his administration face several new, and even more deadly threats as they attempt to rebuild a government with which to rule the country. Finally, a story arc about Pablo, a Mexican drug lord with dreams of empire, is fully developed from seeds planted in “The End”.

The Long Road: The Critique

Again, I found “The Long Road: A Post-apocalyptic Novel” to be very enjoyable. Compared to “The End”, there was much more action and violence. The story takes on a more operatic air in places, as well. It works though. The escalation of the violence and conflict around the central cast is a reflection of the wider spread chaos that encompasses the new world they find themselves in. As the title suggests, the book is a travelogue. This is not just in the physical sense, but in the emotional and moral sense as well. Another theme that is introduced is vengeance. From characters righting wrongs from the past to searching for vengeance for more recent actions, some of the story arcs take on a more ominous tone. The end of this book, like the first one, is another cliff hanger, leaving a reader curious as to how the story continues.

The Long Road: Final Thoughts

As in the first book, the moral decisions made by the characters are what drives the story. And again, there isn’t a lot of time spent focusing on TEOTWAWKI how-to’s. There are two conflicts that resonated with me in this book. The first is the moral conflict created by having to triage a large scale disaster, like that laid out in the series. Government forces have a finite amount of supplies and support which they can provide. When millions of Americans are faced with starvation, or worse, how would the powers-that-be decide who gets the limited supplies available? That leads to the second conflict, which I find intriguing. It is the moral battle between the forces that are seeking to create a continuity of government versus those who see a new paradigm and are trying to cast off the old ways in order to save lives. The idea resonates with me, because I have always said that the one thing a government will do, in all scenarios good and bad, is to perpetuate itself… even at the cost of the citizens it is supposed to serve and protect. This conflict takes a more prominent, central role in this book.

Again, I recommend The Long Road: A Postapocalyptic Novel for a bit of end of the world fun. While this book is more like an all-you-can-eat-buffet, rather than a Michelin rated 4 star meal…you’ll walk away with a belly full of TEOTWAWKI goodness.

The Long Road - A Post-apocalyptic Novel
The Long Road – A Post-apocalyptic Novel

Product Details

  • Series: The New World Series
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (January 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142181501
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142181508
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces

Forsaking Home – Book Review

Regular readers may recall that I reviewed the first three books in A. American’s The Survivalist Series back in January.  Those books,  Going Home, Surviving Home and Escaping Home weren’t just chock full of action, novel story lines and interesting ideas for preppers but also grew progressively better in both the form and the function of their construction and presentation.  In his latest sequel, Forsaking HomeA. American has demonstrated a true mastery, not just of his genre, but also of the writer’s craft.

No electricity. No running water. No food. No end in sight. If life as you knew it changed in an instant, would you be prepared?

Forsaking Home picks up where Escaping Home leaves off.  Morgan Carter, his family and several friends… including Morgan’s longtime companion, Thad, are surviving in the primitive riverside cabins they were forced to flee to when those in power decided to bully everyone into moving into a nearby refugee camp. ‘Sarge’ and the soldiers under his command continue to fight for their country by opposing a tyrannical local Department of Homeland Security camp commander while Jessie suffers within that same camp.

Much of Forsaking Home deals with life on the river in a post collapse era.  Some of the more memorable passages involve organizing foraging parties, the teaching of foraging techniques to Morgan’s children and companions and dealing with the emotions and depression that such a significant change in fortunes would necessarily create.  However, the Carter family’s sylvan life on the river is far from safe, but those dangers as well as Sarge’s ongoing war against the forces of oppression provide an interesting juxtaposition to Carter’s search for a peaceful and tranquil life for his family.  Meanwhile, unknown to the other characters, Morgan’s former traveling companion, Jessie is enduring incarceration in the very camp that Morgan avoided and Sarge is opposing.  Jessie’s existence is one of forced labor, tyrannical guards and frustrating vulnerability.

One of the things that I’ve previously mentioned that I like about this series is that the Army is largely portrayed as a force for good.  In this book the active duty soldiers (Sarge’s immediate companions), retired soldiers (Sarge himself) and the National Guardsmen Sarge works with continue their mission to supporting and defend the Constitution.  My only complaint about the military aspects of this book is the distracting nature of a very few passages that incorrectly describe Army rank insignia, Army uniforms and military terms like the use of the term ‘maverick’ to describe all officers instead of just officers that came up through the enlisted ranks.  That said, these passages won’t affect your enjoyment of the book at all if you don’t have a military background and just expect a few annoyances if you do.  A. American would be well advised to have an editor or proofreader with an Army background review future books in this series and update the first four novels before additional editions are printed.

Forsaking Home runs 371 pages (11 hours and 15 minutes if purchased as an Audio Book) which is an improvement over the preceding book, Escaping Home, which was a little disappointing at 336 pages and carries the primary characters’ stories forward in a way that would make a satisfactory initial read but would be more enjoyable for those familiar with the three previous books in the series.

The Survivalist Series by A. American:

  • Going Home is about getting home when caught hundreds of miles away with no modern transportation options
  • Surviving Home is about bugging in and negotiating the difficulties of living in a society that is falling apart do to lack of power, medicine, transportation, food, hygiene and governance.
  • Escaping Home realistically tells of the logistical and emotional challenges of abandoning one’s home and bugging out to a safer location.
  • Forsaking Home tells the story of the aftermath of the collapse while living at a bug out location and internment camp.

Andrew’s Note:  I was sent a review copy of Forsaking Home by the publisher but actually purchased the Audio Version
narrated by Duke Fontaine to listen to on my recent drive to New York City…but that’s a whole other story.

The End: A Post-Apocalyptic Novel – Book Review

The End: Introduction

AJ got a request to review “Sanctuary: A Postapocalyptic Novel” by G. Michael Hopf. Since he has a lot of irons in the fire, and knows I am an avid reader, he asked me if I wanted to help him out. Always looking for new and hopefully  interesting books, I enthusiastically replied, “Sure!” When I looked up the title on Amazon,  I discovered that it is the third book in G. Michael Hopf’s “The New World” series. Not wanting to drop into the story mid-stream, I decided to read the other books before starting this third book in the series. So, here is the review of “The End: A Postapocalyptic Novel” which is the first in the series.

The End: A Brief Synopsis

The End: A Postapocalyptic Novel” asks the question “What would you do to survive?” The novel answers that question through the story of Gordon Van Zandt, his family, and his friends. A Marine veteran who’s idealism was shattered in Iraq, Gordon lives a good life in San Diego with is wife and two children. That idealic life is ripped apart one day when North America, Europe and the Far East are hit with a Super EMP attack, along with a nuclear strike on Washington, D.C. These attacks cause catastrophic damage to the infrastructure of the country and plunges their lives into a dangerous new world. Gordon knows what he must do and starts gathering supplies and organizing his community to protect against the encroaching chaos. Along the way he must make hard decisions that will mean the difference between life and death for his family and friends.

The End: A Bit More

Don’t worry, no spoilers in store, I just wanted to add a bit more about the story itself.  “The End: A Postapocalyptic Novel” is more than just the story of Gordon Van Zandt and his family. There are actually three main story arcs in the book. The first is about Gordon, the main character in the drama. The next is about his brother, Sebastian, who is a Marine sniper on duty in Afghanistan when the attacks come. The third story is about Brad Conner, who as Speaker of The House becomes President after the President and Vice President are killed in the attack on D.C. Aside from the connection of Gordon and his brother, the three story arcs are individual stories in their own right.  They criss-cross at points but are basically separate stories.

The End: The Critique

The End: A Postapocalyptic Novel” is an enjoyable jaunt. I finished it off over the course of a weekend. G. Michael Hopf uses a really nice literary trick to book end the story and tie the three arcs together. There is not a lot of action through most of the book. When it does come, though, it comes in thunderous waves. Even though there wasn’t a lot of action the story does move along at a good clip. Unlike many novels of the genre, there is not a lot of TEOTWAWKI gear-porn or survival skills descriptions. There isn’t even a prepper among the cast of characters.  Even Gordon, the story’s main character is more resourceful, than prepared.  His story has some good useful info but there’s not a lot.  Most of the story resolves around the moral decisions that must be made amid the chaos of the post attack world. The conflict that is created by these decisions drives the story forward. The situations the characters find themselves in are believable. Well, as believable as a post-apocalyptic story can be. The thing I liked most about the cast of characters is that there isn’t an untarnished one in the bunch.  They all make choices that are less than upright.  Even with their flaws, though, they are far from the worst in the new world they find themselves in.  By the time the book comes to a close, the characters are well fleshed out, flaws and all, and the reader is invested in them.

The End: Final Thoughts

The End: A Postapocalyptic Novel” is a good book. If you enjoy the genre, I think you’ll like it. It’s not heavy reading; still it will give you a TEOTWAWKI reading fix, if you need one. Check back next week for a review of the next book in the series; “The Long Road: A Postapocalyptic Novel (The New World Series).”

The End: A Post-apocalyptic Novel by

The End: A Post-apocalyptic Novel by

Product Details

Series: The New World Series (Book 1)
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Plume (January 7, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0142181498
ISBN-13: 978-0142181492
Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces

Read Prepography‘s brief intro to EMP here.

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