Letter Re: “One Second After” — A Book Review with Some Advice

I have been reading the novel One Second After by William R. Forstchen. I just finished it. Whew, what a heavy book. I decided to write it up as a “lessons learned” book review. A couple of you may be wondering why I sent this to you. Well, I just thought of you and know you to be like-minded … I think. That is, concerned about what the future holds for us as a nation, as crazy and uncertain as things are getting in the world. I’ve been following the elctromagnetic pulse (EMP) threat for a couple of years now and regrettably, just now made myself purchase my own copy of this novel and read it.

My initial reaction, to get to the point, is that it is my hope is that each of you will buy a copy of this novel for your own personal libraries. It should go on the “Mandatory Reading” list, right next to “Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse” , by James Rawles.

EMP is a very real threat, as is the threat of a major economic collapse, as addressed in Rawles’ novel, “Patriots”.

Since I expect most all of you will acquire your own copy, I’ll spare the commentary of the characters’ specific experiences, and get to what I gleaned as “lessons learned.” I’d love to hear feedback from each of you and know your thoughts.

This is an insightful, well-thought-out and researched novel. Dr. Forstchen is extremely knowledgeable and is a respected subject-matter expert on the topic of EMP and has a web site dedicated to his research.

Also, consider checking out this video. There are lots of videos of interviews with Dr. Forstchen

Also, separate from the book and author, this piece on future weapons.

In my opinion, this author has a keen sense of human behavior, especially in stressful and traumatic situations; an acute sense of the sociological implications of an event such as an EMP attack. I think that he is extremely accurate in his assessment of what our culture could be reduced to in the event of this type of catastrophic event. The novel gives one a lot of food for thought regarding steps that could be taken to lessen the blow of such an event … at least, on a personal/family level.

Lesson 1: Never, ever, ever, if you have any choice at all become a refugee. Do everything within your power not to let your family become refugees. Remember the television series, Jericho? But we’ve seen it real world, in Sudan, Haiti, Chile, Mexico, Hurricane Katrina, and as far back as WWII, through Korea, Vietnam, and on and on. If you think you’ve got it bad in your hometown or neighborhood, you should count yourself lucky to have one (home or neighborhood).

Lesson 2: Have enough supplies stored up to last you and your family one year. That means food, water treatment capability, first-aid/medical supplies, toilet paper, .22 ammo, etc. Do not depend upon wild game (deer, elk, grouse, squirrel, etc.) in your survival plan. In a serious situation, such as described in this novel, 30,000 other people are going to have the same secret idea, and there will be no wild game to be had, and in short order.

Lesson 3: Be able to produce your own food when your food stores run out. Seeds, saws and knives for dressing game, chickens, rabbits, etc. The supplies are there to last until you can start producing your own. Be able to preserve it, as well. Learn about canning and preserving and stock up on the supplies.

Lesson 4: Security: Be able to defend your family if you have to. The ol’ lever action .30-30 is great for knocking down a deer. But have something serious on hand. Perhaps one of those kinds of firearms that make the uninitiated ask, “why would a civilian ever have a use for something like that?” Because when you do need something like that, there is no substitute. And then pray you never have use for it.

Lesson 5: Security 2: If you think you can make it on your own in a TEOTWAWKI situation, you and your family will die. That simple. The exception is some family living remotely in a valley in Alaska somewhere. Otherwise, better start figuring out now who you might want to band together with … friends, family, etc.

Lesson 6: Keep a survival kit in your vehicle. If for some reason you have to abandon your vehicle to get home, have the supplies to get there fast. Don’t forget loose, non-descript clothing and comfortable shoes. Food, water, shelter, tools, and a weapon of some sort. You can go to YouTube and look up keywords such as G.O.O.D. Bag, Bugout Kit, Urban Survival Kit, etc.

Lesson 7: As with many natural disasters in the past, and a worst-case scenario such as an EMP attack, computer banking systems go down and cash transactions will be the only transactions. Have cash on you at all times. At least $100 in small bills. ($1’s, $5’s, $10’s, and a $20 bill or two.) Never bring it all out at once. Make it appear that it’s the last of your money. If you know something bad went down, and you are safely able to, make a B-line for the store and stock up on perishable items that you couldn’t stock up on much, such as cooking oil, brown sugar, batteries, gasoline, medications, etc. Make a list of “grab from the store” items now. Purchase those items in the first minutes or hours while everyone else is still dumbfounded and trying to figure out what just happened.

Lesson 8: Try to protect electronic equipment now. Even if you purchase a couple of FRS radios just to stash away. A short-wave radio, a ham radio transceiver, or a scanner, etc. There is a ton of information out there about EMP hardening, such as Faraday cages to protect electronics from EMP. Those with communications will have huge advantages over those who do not. Do you have an old ([early] 1970s or earlier) car, motorcycle, mo-ped, etc. that does not have electronics built into it? Hang on to it, or get it running and stash it away. Mobility would be a valuable resource.

Lesson 9: Have a safe place to go to. If you have family or friends with property, or know someone who lives a self-reliant lifestyle, develop that relationship and learn from them. More importantly, it would be better if they would allow you to come there and use it as a sanctuary location if things got that bad. But be prepared to take care of yourself and them as well. In other words, bring something of value to the table. Don’t be a leech. The best bet is to have a huge store of supplies already there, just in case. Rawles’ novel “Patriots”, covers that in great detail.

Lesson 10: Learn! We all agree that things are getting volatile; in the world, in our country, economically, strategically, politically, socially. Get rid of distractions, such as television, sports, entertainment, and self-indulgence. At least for a season, prepare to be self-sufficient. Then, go back to all your “fun” stuff. Learn how to take care of yourself and your family if (when) things get worse.

It’s estimated that 90% of the US population would die within a year if we were struck by an EMP. This is a very real threat. I know it seems like something out of a Stephen King novel. And although Forstchen’s novel is fictional, he simply took a real town, with fictional characters, and wove a story around the real threat of EMP with uncanny insight into the social effects of such an event.

Our enemies have been working on such a weapon for a long time. This already exists, by the way. This isn’t something “being developed.” It has been developed! What’s more is that very similar effects come from the sun in the form of solar flares. It happened in the mid-1800s, but the extent of the damage was limited to telegraph lines bursting into flames. We weren’t living in a vulnerable electronic age, as we are now. Scientists are monitoring the sun and claim that we are over due for this type of solar activity. Some scientists assess that similar EMP-producing solar flares are highly probable, and expected in 2012. How they know that, I haven’t a clue. But it might be worth watching closer.

NASA Warns Of Super Solar Storm 2012

2012 may bring the “perfect storm” – solar flares, systems collapse

I don’t get all caught up in the 2012 hype garbage. If anything happens in 2012, it is coincidental, in my opinion. Everything will happen in the Lord’s timing, and if He decides to end it all in 2011, 2012, or 4015, then that’s when it will happen. Until His Word reveals something different, and I can’t find it anywhere in the Bible, there’s no specific date given the end of the world, or his return, or armageddon, etc. I think the Lord let’s up come up with our little date formulas just to confound us. We’ll all be surprised when He comes. And make no mistake about it, He is coming. Until then we need to be ready to defend the defenseless and provide for the needy when danger comes.

As far as I’m concerned, my children are at the top of the needy and defenseless list, by the way. In the novel, One Second After, it was amazing how many people were unprepared to take care of themselves. To position themselves in their preparations and lifestyles ahead of time. To not become victims, refugees, and casualties. Of course, the author wrote it that way to highlight the point that not being prepared has catastrophic consequences. Still, amazing.

The novel did a great job of bringing awareness to the reader about this real threat, and in such a way as to (I hope) motivate the reader to action. Toward self-reliance in a proactive way. It was a stark contrast to Rawles’ Patriots, which followed a couple groups of characters through TEOTWAWKI who had prepared in advance, who did not become refugees and didn’t need to, because they took action ahead of time. There were definitely some strong parallels between the novels though, in regard to a societal collapse and the cultural effects and personal triumph and tragedy that would be inevitable in either scenario.

It’s a must-read and although a fast read it is insightful. For those of you who have already read it, and for those of you who are about to, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’d be happy to pass them along to the others as well, for everyone’s benefit. God Bless, – Jack R.