I recently finished reading Dan Brown’s Inferno. I almost always enjoy Brown’s novels (his misguided attempt at writing about signals intelligence in Digital Fortress was the sole exception). I enjoy his blend of action, current events, history and fictional conspiracies. I especially enjoy learning more about places I’ve visited and it makes me want to travel to see them once again.
Don’t worry, no spoilers of note will appear in this article…I want you to enjoy this book as much as I did.
I didn’t expect to be reviewing this book for these pages but the conspiracy in Inferno turned out to be a true ‘The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) event… biological terror plot of Earth shaking proportions.
I recently finished the book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice. Kyle’s wife Taya wasn’t credited but also contributed significantly to the book.
When I bought the book I expected it to be an account of the weapons and tactics that led Chief Petty Office Chris Kyle of S.E.A.L. Team 3 to become the most ‘lethal’ U.S. sniper in history surpassing the legendary Marine Carlos Hathcock’s Vietnam era record by over 50%. I expected Kyle’s book to be very similar to Hathcock’s Carlos Hathcock: Marine Sniper : War Stories And Tactical Tips From The Master Sniper which is also a great read…but what I ended up with was a love story. Don’t get me wrong, Kyle’s book has lots of war stories and countless humorous anecdotes of his life as a Navy S.E.A.L., but he didn’t focus nearly as much on the mechanics of shooting as he did on the decisions, situations and loves that led him placed him in the positions that led to his lethal record.
I love a good military autobiography and the psychological makeup of snipers makes their stories particularly compelling. As I mentioned above I’ve read Hathcock’s book as well as the autobiography of Vassili Zaitsev, NOTES OF A RUSSIAN SNIPER which was made into the movie Enemy At The Gates. As much as I enjoyed those books Kyle’s was something broader and in some ways more compelling.
Kyle told the story of his life, his S.E.A.L training, peacetime duty, and his four tours of duty in Iraq (including his contributions to the Second Battle of Falluja, the Battle of Ramadi, as well as various incursions into Sadr City) interspersed with the story of and the conflicts between his three great loves.
As a Military Intelligence officer I generally cringe when anyone uses the term ‘Oxymoron’ because it’s usually followed by a moronic statement that disparages the noble and honorable profession of Military Intelligence. Before we look at the Top 10 Preparedness Oxymorons let’s review the definition of an oxymoron and some non-preparedness examples:
Oxymoron: a combination of contradictory or incongruous words (as cruel kindness); broadly : something (as a concept) that is made up of contradictory or incongruous elements
Some additional examples of oxymorons from the folks over at www.oxymoronlist.com include: anarchy rules, abundant poverty, border control, centrally planned economy, congressional accountability, free rent, great depression, government efficiency, honest politician, politically correct, United Nations, withheld contribution, zero deficit and my favorite… communist party (Stalin, Tito and Mao were probably more effective as boogie-men than at boogieing down).
We generate and perpetuate our own oxymorons in the preparedness movement and media…here are the Top 10 Preparedness Oxymorons:
I actually started Tomorrow When the War Began as a book a few years ago and it was just a little too ‘Judy Bloom’ for me. I have no issues with an inner monologue, but John Marsden’s running dialog straight from his main character’s (a teenage girl) head was a little much for me. I just looked the author up…a guy wrote that book? Anyway, I get my more than my share of teenage angst with all the teen girls in my family…so I never finished the book. However, I still thought that it sounded like a great story if I could get past all the inner monologue and straight to the story.
The story itself sounded like an Australian Red Dawn…and I liked the movie Red Dawn. Did I mention that Tomorrow When the War Began is a juvenile novel…so are many of Heinlein’s greats so I don’t prejudge…wish I had with the book though. The book is actually the first of the very popular ‘Tomorrow’ series.
So…back to Tomorrow When the War Began, the movie…even though the book wasn’t for me, I was still interested in the story line so when Tomorrow When The War Began came out on Netflix I jumped at the chance to watch it. The movie is a beautifully filmed and well acted Australian production about a group of Australian teens that go camping and return home to discover that an unnamed military force has invaded Australia and taken all their families hostage.
[MINOR SPOILERS ALERT] Continue reading
Chris, the editor of the 15th Anniversary Edition of the LDS Preparedness Manual was kind enough to let me know that the newest edition is now available from LDSAvow.com…best of all it’s a free download.
The LDS Preparedness Manual has long been an excellent preparedness resource but the previous version I had was a little clunky to read. This new addition is simply beautiful…it’s well organized, well illustrated, has a consistent typeset and as I mentioned before… it’s free! The manual comes as a PDF file with over 500 pages of preparedness content and weighs in at a staggering 8MB.
It’s also available in hardback of course…but if you’re just going to download it make sure to save it to that USB Flash Drive we talked about in our review of the Ultimate Preparedness Library. This is THE book to start your preparedness library with or a must have addition if you’ve already started!
It’s been a while since I read my old copy…not sure if I missed it before or not but a number of the articles included are by some of my favorite preparedness authors including Ferfal, LTC David Grossman, Survivalmom, Dr. Cynthia K, and more!
Note: You’ll see this listed as “Handbook 2″ but that’s the one you want. Handbook 1 was written specifically for the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and is not available to the general public.
Continue reading to see the manual’s contents: Continue reading
It’s good to take your own advice on occasion… this past week I did something that was WAY overdue…I copied my digital preparedness library onto USB Flash Drives.
Even though I’ve been collecting information for several years I still find something new every now and then so I decided that while I was archiving my library I would see if any of my favorite sites had anything new to offer…that’s when I came across The Ultimate Preparedness Library. I decided to take a risk (not a big one as they had a money back guarantee) and buy access to the library.
While I started off looking for a new book…what I ended up with was unlimited access to over a hundred digital titles (over 660MB) on numerous facets of preparedness and self reliance. While I ended up with a few duplicate titles (from all those years of collecting on my own)…there were so many new titles that it was money well spent.
In the introduction to The Long Walk by Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) King describes how his Bachman persona writes dark stories while as King he writes the lighter stories where the good guys always win…think about that for a minute…Bachman is King’s dark side…kinda a scary thought.
If you’ve read or seen the movies The Running Man (also by King) or the Hunger Games then you know the setup. It’s set in a near future dystopian society that turns to blood sport to appease the masses. In this case the blood sport is an annual road march from hell where 100 young men are selected to march south through Maine, New Hampshire & Massachusetts. They must march non-stop and keep a certain pace or they get a warning…four warnings in an hour and they get their “ticket punched” (shot in the head by soldiers shadowing the walkers in half-tracks). The last man standing wins all his heart’s desire.
The story focuses almost entirely on the thoughts of the protagonist and the interactions he has with the other participants. We are told very little about the society that put these boys into such a barbaric position. The book wasn’t at all what I was expecting because I enjoy stories about how characters deal with their dysfunctional societies…and there was very little interaction with or even description of Long Walk’s society. The story describes a very long, very deadly walk with an occasional flashback thrown in. Even though it wasn’t my normal fare, I found myself engrossed in the protagonist’s plight expressed primarily through his fears, concerns, thoughts and dreams.
While ostensibly an adventure story the character’s inner monologue was so reminiscent of the inner monologue described in real life survival accounts I’ve heard and read (particularly in the interviews presented in Lawrence Gonzalez’s, Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why) that I couldn’t put the book down. If I had to sum up the story in one word it would be “perseverance.”
The Long Walk is highly recommended for anyone seeking a story to inspire them to persevere in their own walk of life.
I finally got around to reading Supervolcano by Harry Turtledove last week. The Yellowstone supervolcano (which is apparently overdue for an eruption) is one of the single biggest perils facing the U.S. and the world. I thought a work of fiction written by a historian (PHD in Byzantine history) would be an interesting read about how individuals and society deal with such a disaster…I was wrong.
Here is what the San Diego Union-Tribune had to say about Supervolcano:
A supervolcanic eruption in Yellowstone Park sends lava and mud flowing toward populated areas, and clouds of ash drifting across the country. The fallout destroys crops and livestock, clogs machinery, and makes cities uninhabitable. Those who survive find themselves caught in an apocalyptic catastrophe in which humanity has no choice but to rise from the ashes and recreate the world…
My take was a little different:
In summary, I did enjoy the book but would have enjoyed it more if I wasn’t looking for the TEOTWAWKI tie in. If Turtledove had just written about the characters and left out the supervolcano..it would have been a much better book.