Book Review: The Reluctant Partisan Volume One: The Guerrilla

I’m going to say a few things about this book that I found while reading a few online blogs on a few survival-related websites. I found this book on and ordered it directly from them for about $70. I don’t get anything in return for posting this, and I am happy with the purchase.

This book encompasses a reality for me. You don’t know what you just don’t know. Sure, I was in the military, and I know how to hike and camp and shoot a gun. While I have some military experience, the author of this book was a highly-trained Army Ranger and then Special Forces operator who actually had experiences in war zones. Surviving in war zones and prepping or learning about survival generally aren’t on the same spectrum for most preppers. Here is what happens: we generally buy more stuff and don’t worry too much about skills.

What this book documents is what you need to be a survivor as a working militia member, prepper, or war fighter in general. I’ll summarize the basics I’ve gleaned from reading it.

He covers physical training, being strong and fit, and how that relates to not having a heart attack on your way to whatever is happening. It’s a seriously big issue.

In a critical look at most people I know who are preppers, the self check-off list almost never starts with being fit. It starts with acquiring more stuff rather than what you as an individual can actually do. Can you run five miles? How about hike 10? Do you actually know your limits, or just what do you think you can do?

The author gives some examples of how to get fit using cross fit and weight lifting, and he has some systems listed along with everything he does; he suggests further reading on this subject matter from other expert leaders in the field. From reading this information, I’ve changed my personal fitness beliefs and found a new belief. I believe there is going to be a lot of nice, almost new, hardly used stuff laying around when bad things happen. (Because some people won’t get off of the couch that’s in front of the TV.) That is a fact. JM says, “Stronger people are harder to kill.”

He covers tactics on unarmed and armed fighting, weapons, keys to engaging targets, how to shoot fast, getting your jammed weapon cleared, combat reloads, tactical reloads, as well as some of the detailed info about running battle drills and sighting in your battle rifle. That “how-to’ knowledge is something I’ve yet to find anywhere else. You can buy army manuals, but they don’t cover all the details. He explains some of the info in acronyms, like point of impact (where your shot lands) vs point of aim– POI vs POA. It would have been cool to get all the acronyms in the front of the book. Being military, I get it, but some of the non-military people wanting to pick up this info might need a notebook to take notes. This book is loaded with info. Paging back through my copy, every page in this book has a scribble of a good idea or some key fact I wanted to highlight, plus I highlighted parts and underlined other parts that I found key.

He covers medical training– TCCC tactical combat causality care– which is something that until reading this book I’ve never heard of. Everyone buys a few medical items while prepping just in case you get cut, burned, or sick, but he covers in-depth ideas about using a CAT-T tourniquet. Again, the fact that guys will drop big bucks on stocking up on guns and ammo but won’t buy an IFAK is a problem. He breaks down lists of what should be in there and how to use the items. Fish antibiotics and use of the right pain reliever are also mentioned in depth as well as carrying a shot buddy and self and buddy care.

There is only one negative on the book. Some of the pictures in the book are from other open sources, while some pictures being re-sized have created issues with blank pages.

One place in the book has a few pictures actually covering the text (needle decompression on page 150). I would say it’s the one place in the book some of the good info is lost, but I’d seriously recommend hands-on real life training before attempting to do more advanced first aid like needle decompression anyhow. Being personally weak in this area, even though I’m CPR/first aid/military first aid trained, I’ve ordered a DVD unrelated to his book that teaches TCCC. If you get an IFAK, you should understand everything in that lifesaving kit.

From chapter 6 and 7, it’s small unit tactics and training from an operator’s point of view. This includes how to move and shoot, land navigation, contact/action drills, searching captured, dead enemy actions, patrolling/defending, and hasty attack/ambush drills. Yeah, shoot him in the face.

Chapter 8 is the guide to fighting in the darkness. It talks about how to deal with the disadvantages and advantages given under the cover of night. Here he mentioned formations and what works and what doesn’t, including going against bad guys with expensive gear.

Chapter 9 is about defending your place, having escape and rally points, and it includes info on belonging to a group survival vs staying in your home and waiting for them to come to you. By then it’s too late. It includes defense by using offense and ideas in that line.

Chapter 10 is hide and seek for adults. It’s escaping and evading a superior force and covers the 7 P’s of training.

Chapter 11 is about planning an operation from start to finish (more sergeant stuff). Basically, it’s understanding why you are doing what you are doing, and from start to finish a plan of action be it a “conduct a security patrol” to ”surveillance of an enemy base”. Being a leader, you have to know what happens when that plan goes wrong. You have to know what you and your team have and how they will either complete the job or fail. He works along a lot of lines about understanding your strengths and understanding the enemy’s weaknesses and abilities in order to keep you and your people alive.

That leaves me where I am, in the Appendix, reading the blog excerpts level 1, level 2, and level 3 of gear. From what I’ve read, oh, I’ll be re-reading it and taking better notes. What I said in the start of this report that “what you don’t know you just don’t know” is true. This book over almost everything else I’ve read (and I’ve read a ton of wilderness survival and first aid kind of books, including the stuff from that web site with rook) and nothing is really close to this book, its knowledge, and JM’s experience.

There are a few short comings related to layout, pictures, and some issues with blank pages (due to the pictures). One thing I wish JM would have done is aside from putting some links to experts (like every chapter), he could put some trusted sources of gear in there (and to be fair he mentions some companies who manufacture great gear. Very few stores have these specialized items on the shelves, and specialized means expensive. Having an acronym list would be helpful to people reading this that weren’t in the military, too.

JM totally went through a very descriptive appendix with explanations of going from ALICE to MOLLE gear and its advances along with what works best, in his opinion. (These were blog posts.) I’d love a list of basic gear, as these loadouts worked pretty well for this guy, but again it’s not the stuff you have around you but what you do with it that matters. (Again, where is the best place to get the items he listed? That is the question! Going and dropping cash like the government plowing through tax dollars isn’t viable.)

It’s a more than worthy book. I’d even say this is in my top three books. I’m looking forward to ordering vol2. I’ll be back in to it taking notes and using his experiences in my life to make life better. I don’t think I can give it a higher rating than that.

To recap, I think I’ve been enlightened from this book. If you’re weak in an area, seek hands-on instruction from a competent expert instructor. If you want to lift more and get strong, talk to a good personal trainer. Want to be a lifesaver? Get a doctor who can help you learn those skills. Want to survive uncertain times? Find a guy who has survived war zones and learn from his skills. It’s an outstanding book. I hope a DVD for the arms training might be coming out in the future.

Fitzy in Pa.