Most helpful critical review
67 of 71 people found the following review helpful
Worth reading before TSHTF
on April 22, 2010
It's impossible to predict exactly what type of disaster might cause the disruption (or total collapse) of The World As We Know It, therefore it is hard to create a book that will tell us everything we need to know to survive in such a scenario.
That said, Long Term Survival In The Coming Dark Age takes a pretty good stab at it.
I enjoyed the chapter on how to make caches so that supplies can be hidden and recovered years later.
The author takes the basic premiss that life will revert to something like the 1800's, so much of the book describes methods of improvising things like axes, knives, tools, clothes, rope, etc. While the author's homemade tools and clothes are beautifully crafted, I have a hard time imagining myself spending much time forging steel during a survival scenario. Even if all the stores are looted I think our society will have an abundance of remnant knives and axes to last quite a while. For at least a couple of decades I think scavenging will be a more important skill than blacksmithing.
This book is full of interesting skill and project ideas, but it's fragmented. The author has us building forges as if we will be cut off from the remnants of our civilization, but also caching guns, as if rounds or shells and gunpowder will somehow be available. It's somewhat hard to picture the scenario in which all these skills come together.
No one can paint a perfect picture of what survivors will be facing so we never know what skills exactly will be essential, so I will take what I can from this book. But I think the long term survival picture is going to be extremely dependent upon exactly How Many people are left vying for resources.
I think there will be few or no "free people" left. Men will all be killed or forced into ad hoc armies fighting and pillaging each other and women and children will all be captives of the armies, which will eventually evolve into the new civilizations. I don't like my scenario, but I think it resembles what life will be like a lot closer than the 1800's does. The 1800's may have been rough around the edges, but it had functional law and government and effectively it had castes so everyone had their "place." If society collapses today people will not fall into their new role as butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers. They will become feral and destructive.
Okay, so all in all, I'm not sure the author takes us down the right path but I really like all the skills he goes into. There are lots of helpful photographs and a few "cutaway" drawings to help us understand how to construct devices, and the writing is easy to understand. I also like the advice to hunt small game like squirrels and pigeons. Every yahoo in the cities who's ever bought a gun will go roaming into the woods and ruin the hunting and probably all shoot each other. I wonder how to tell what animals should be avoided because of the possibility of rabies, plague, etc. I also wonder how to make gunpowder or anti-biotics.
I enjoyed this book. If you are thinking about survival you could do a lot worse than to read this.