Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Book Review: Scott B. Williams’ Bug Out Vehicles

December 13, 2011

Scott B. Williams has done it again. Bug Out Vehicles and Shelters is the latest in a line of books designed to help you save your hide (and your family) should disaster (or mayhem) strike. Unlike other survival authors who may claim to have all the answers, Williams may actually have them: understand your needs and situation; think for yourself; plan and prepare ahead of time; the world doesn’t have to end for you to be forced to face a nasty scenario and make tough decisions; the more homework you do now, the less stressful it will be later.

Bug Out Vehicles is not a book that will tell you to “do this” or don’t do that.” Instead, Williams walks readers through the thought processes of true preparedness. He wants readers to learn how to think about survival situations, develop skills ahead of time, and get things in order before it’s too late to do anything but panic. Unlike other survival books that seem bent on getting people ready for an influx of zombies or invading aliens, Williams’ books offer sound, common-sense advice on being ready to deal with real world situations: like evacuating ahead of a hurricane or wildfire, for example. The S*** doesn’t have to hit the fan for Williams’ books to be useful.

Williams’ series of books is like a course in preparedness thinking. In Bug Out, he introduced readers to the idea of bugging out, getting them to think in terms of leaving as opposed to trying to stick it out when things go bad. In Getting Out Alive, he introduces the concept of thinking through scenarios ahead of time, in order to think through how you might react in similar situations and what you might do about it. In Bug Out Vehicles, he’s on to the next step, “So, how are you going to get there?”

Bug Out Vehicles begins with the premise “So, you’re leaving for ________ [your bug out shelter, another state, an area not impacted by the disaster, etc.]. Have you given much thought to how you’ll get there?” Along the way Williams covers various sorts of bug out vehicles and runs through lists of pros and cons for each one under various circumstances — what works in an orderly, low-key evacuation for a family of four, might be deadly for a single individual trying to get the hell out of an urban area in the midst of violent civil unrest. And he provides “don’t forget this” checklists for each type of vehicle he discusses.

Williams, to his credit, offers ideas and starting points for many modes of transportation (from human-powered, to internal combustion, to hay powered) and for every income level. The ability to escape in order to survive should not be limited to those with an unlimited budget. Being able to get out, Williams’ says, doesn’t depend on going out and buying a new vehicle. And he makes a compelling case for why your four-door family sedan (as unattractive as you may think it is) may not be such a bad bug out vehicle after all. He offers suggestions for modifications and accommodations for every mode of transport. Again, always with the implied questions, “What if ________?” and “Have you thought about ________?” Williams, if nothing else, wants his readers to get their minds right about being prepared.

Would I recommend Bug Out Vehicles and Shelters? You bet. For most of us, transportation is an afterthought at best. All too often, we take for granted that we’ll hop in ours cars and SUVs and take off. Williams give his reader plenty of food for thought, and readers should be biting.

When All Hell Breaks Loose, grab a book

January 11, 2011

People who know me (and know that I am by nature a laid back storyteller) know that I appreciate the literary prowess of Cody Lundin. His writing style is super colloquial yet no-nonsense. He’s a long time survival skills instructor who teaches and makes his home in Arizona. He’s the founder of the Aboriginal Living Skills School and has published a number of books on survival: 98.6 Degrees (published in 2003 and dedicated to the importance of maintaining your core temp) and the one I review today: When All Hell Breaks Loose (first published in 2007 and focused on surviving in an urban environment). 

When All Hell Breaks Loose covers basic survival principles (food, water, shelter, fire, etc.) while also addressing circumstances unique to urban and suburban environments (where most of the world’s population now resides). The sections I found particularly useful dealt with determining how much water you need every day, and how many calories you actually need to function (let me tell you, THIS is an eye-opener even if you’re not in a survival situation as he tells you how to figure out how many calories your body needs based on your body and your activity level). His advice on which foods to sock away is a breath a fresh air in a time when vendors are quick to tell you what you ought to be doing (i.e. buying their products).

Even if you’re not interested in prepping, the information on food and water is worth a read. And, whatever your school of thought on survival and preparedness, if you were to use some of the information from When All Hell Breaks Loose you might save a little on your utility bills. And, if you have kids in Scouting (or if you’re just in touch with your inner child) you’ll love the section on cooking with solar ovens.  

Lundin, to his credit, doesn’t hand everything to you on a silver platter – or a paper plate. You have to work for it a little. You have to figure out how much rainwater you could catch from your roof every year based on average rainfall in your area. You have to do the math to figure out your basal metabolic rate based on your numbers. You have to do some thinking about how prepared you want to be for which potential emergencies. Then, it’s not as easy as going to a website and handing over your credit card number. You have to do the work. And I appreciate that. Too many people suffer in an emergency because they can’t or won’t do what’s necessary to protect themselves. You might as well get some practice in before you need it.

When All Hell Breaks Loose is copiously illustrated. Illustrations and photographs provide good visual information as well as comic relief. That may be the strongest quality of the book: it communicates sometimes fearsome information in a really non-intimidating manner. It doesn’t make the concepts themselves any less frightening, but it does break stuff down for you in a way that makes prepping seem manageable and survival seem possible.

Now, the only downside for me, was the section on self-defense. It’s not that I don’t agree, mind you.  But self-defense is a HUGE topic to try to capture in a single chapter in the latter half of a book dedicated to the nuts and bolts of urban preparedness. It’s not that it’s not important, but the chapter felt a little forced  – as if Lundin himself wasn’t completely comfortable with it. I think that Lundin could’ve handled it better by making the point that you ought to have some martial arts knowledge, maybe making some basic recommendations about where to start looking for information and instruction and left it there. It’s not bad, but that section isn’t his strongest work.

All in all, I really enjoyed When All Hell Breaks Loose.  I highly recommend it. It’s available almost everywhere, or directly through Cody Lundin’s website:  http://www.codylundin.com/  You won’t be able to beat it for no-nonsense survival advice.

As always, thanks for reading.

~ L.

Images © 2007 Cody Lundin