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3.9 out of 5 stars
Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse
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518 of 588 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2007
Patriots is a TEOWAWKI , militia-style survivalist novel packed with information. While Patriots does mention stockpiling food and the use of non-hybrid seeds this is not a book about self-sufficiency. The premise of the novel is that an economic depression spirals out of control. The economy completely collapses, money becomes worthless, the mail stops, the power grid and phone system shuts down and the government at all levels disappears. In the story this period is understatedly called the Crunch, but no depression in the history of the United States has been nearly so severe. Even church services appear to stop for several years.

With the United States in turmoil and collapse, the United Nations and at least some international banks have survived. Together they become the catalyst behind a provisional federal government that seeks to exert near dictatorial control over America. Frankly, I believe there is much more strength in the institutions of the United States than there ever was in the United Nations and so this plot scenario strained believability for me. However, when asked, James Rawles stated, "I made the scenario in the novel a near `worst case' in order to make it more interesting reading, and as an opportunity to show the need for planning and preparedness in a variety of areas..."

Using the Crunch as a literary device Rawles packs the novel with data about guns, medicine, fuels, equipment and tactics. The book has been described in several online reviews as a "survival manual fairly neatly dressed as fiction." Indeed it is much more entertaining than reading the facts in a reference book or manual. But this is also the greatest weakness. It is hard to pack facts into a novel without the author intruding into the story. Much of this story is told in the form of narration, as opposed to showing within the flow of the events. Characterization is weak. Both author intrusion and narration weaken the literary quality of the story but add to the amount of information Rawles packs into the book

Recommendation: The information is five-star, the literary quality is two star. Buy Patriots for the "survival manual," not the fiction story.
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325 of 396 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2000
Excellent work by Mr. Rawles. In it he explores the possibilities and what ifs of a total collapse of the civilized world that we have come to know and upon which we depend. Imagine, if you will, that the economy spins out of control and takes civilized society with it. Imagine this event making the Great Depression look like a walk in the park. How would one survive or thrive during such a chaotic experience? Can it be done alone? What are the real problems and issues that might need to be overcome? Mr. Rawles novel explores those possibilites. His information is well presented. Obviously a lot of thought and research went into this novel. It reads more like a contingency plan and less like some escapist fantasy. It beats any sci-fi novel hands down. I strongly recommend "Patriots" to anyone who's ever wondered what would happen should the day come when they dialed 911 and nobody answered.(Remember Hurricane Andrew and the LA Riots?) Read "Patriots" and find out. It is definitely time well spent. However, let me offer a word of warning. Pick up "Patriots" and you won't want to put it down until its finished!
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351 of 439 people found the following review helpful
This has to be one of the worst edited books I have ever seen. You can tell it was written in the 1990s and updated recently; they mention the election of Barack Obama. But they did a lousy job of updating the text. The time lines, ages and historic events are screwed up. For example on page 22, it says that Todd and Mary found the ranch on vacation trips to Idaho in 2001 (happily married at the time). On the same page it states the idea for a group retreat was formed in 2006, while Todd and T.K. were in college. Later, it says that Todd started working from home in 2008, using a PC with a 20 gig hard drive and a dial-up modem. Dial-up in 2008? Especially for a corporate sanctioned telecommuter? That may have been the standard in 1988! On page 35, Kevin graduates college in 2007 and starts as a junior programmer. Next paragraph Kevin is starting SECOND career as freelance programmer in 2002. I guess he started his freelance in high school? Also, Doug states his age as 22, but he was born a year after his parent got married, soon after his fathers return from Vietnam. Let's see...The Crunch hits in 2009, so that means Doug was born in 1987, that means his father got home from Vietnam around 1986 or so. Delayed demobilization? POW release? These are just a few of the examples of bad editing and updating.

Come on, the use of a simple whiteboard with a timeline drawn on it and used to update the text would have made this a much more enjoyable read. Any decent editor should have caught these errors and had them corrected before sending it to the printers.

Plus, as another reviewer stated, recent college grads paying cash in the hundred thousand dollar range for ranches in Idaho is a bit ridiculous.

The story was pretty interesting and informative but the bad editing ruined it for me. I could not get past the glaring inconsistencies. F--

----- Jan 28th 2013 -----

The above review was written in 2009 based on the Fourth Edition (Expanded) available at the time. I have since re-read the book in the Revised edition published late 2012. it was like reading two different books. The time line inconsistencies are gone. Everything falls into place nicely and fits with the updated (IE: current events) content.

Now the book works as a great fictional story (but scarily close to reality it seems) and as a preppers guide. I will probably read it again, this time with a highlighter to mark important products and ideas.

Thank You Mr. Rawles for the new edition. Much more enjoyable read this time around.
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241 of 302 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2004
In Patriots, Rawles fully develops the critical themes of the importance of self-reliance, teamwork, preparedness, and dedication to our Constitution and our God. That's what "Patriots" means, to me. But what really uniquely struck me (as someone who benefited from excellent training by VN era SEALs many years ago on Uncle Sam's dime) was Rawles unique emphasis on tactical awareness and readiness. His characters always "stay tactical" appropriate to the situation, and the importance of that cannot be overestimated! This is something glossed over in 99% of books, where the heroes go merrily "smoking and joking" along, and somehow always develop ESP, or get a lucky break, just in time to avoid disaster. It doesn't work that way! In reality, in a SHTF scenario, survivors must always "stay tactical" using 360% security and all of the other drills and SOPs Rawles lays out so well. If there is one thing I hope readers take from Patriots, it's that lesson! If they do nothing else, I hope that after reading Patriots, survivalists will be encouraged to include some very good military field manuals in their libraries, and learn the small unit tactics and SOPs laid out so convincingly in Patriots. The best "stuff" in the world is of no use if you can't keep it, because you left holes in your security, or you were careless. The tactical SOPs written about in Patriots are designed to make the survivor cover all of these bases at all times. Rawles entire book is a great reminder of the critical importance of incorporating brass-tacks tactical SOPs in any realistic survivalist preparations. I very highly recommend that it occupy a center space on every serious survivalist's bookshelf.

Matt Bracken, author of "Enemies Foreign and Domestic" and "Domestic Enemies: The Reconquista."
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213 of 267 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2009
I purchased this book thinking that it might be an entertaining story in the "fall of civilization" vein, or a realistic look at what happens to "normal" people when order breaks down. Boy was I incorrect...

First off the characters in the book are wooden almost one dimensional people, after the first chapter most would realize that these are not people that a normal person could identify with, they are a group of wanna-be soldiers that masquerade as regular people, with their own military structure and code of ethics that really don't seem to be based on the ideals of freedom and justice that the USA was founded on.

I could accept that the author had his agenda to push, fine. Myself being a Conservative and a proud gun owner I figured it might be a little ways to the right of what I believe but, whoa. Examples: Linking the Oklahoma City bombing to a government plan to simply scare the American people. The people in the retreat receive via circumventing the law before the "chaos", parts to modify their weapons to fully automatic and it's presented as a good and reasonable thing for someone to do.... right now. Two characters that are introduced via a shootout with state troopers that want to kill (yes kill) them because they didn't have a drivers license when they pull them over. Worst of all the two brothers are held up like champions of the good and just, and of course they are church going Christians.

I lost all semblance of connection for any of the characters in the book before I even started to build it. I have to care about what happens to the people in a novel, and when I stopped a ways through the book and asked myself "What would I do if I met these so called "patriots" in a situation like this?", the answer was; Run away, terribly fast.

Eventually the only thing you end up caring about is when the real "heroes" show up and kick these people in the teeth, but don't hold your breath because apparently they are what the author considers the ideal template for a good, caring, freedom-loving, citizens. As a safety section worker I'm all for people being able to take care of themselves in a natural disaster or any type of crisis situation, and I would agree that if you turned off the power most people wouldn't know the first thing to do, granted that's pretty sad, but the model that this author presents in this book for people that are prepared and self sufficient is more like small groups of tyrants that would live on little kingdoms accosting anyone who was unfortunate enough to encounter them. The only redeeming thing for these "patriots" is that the people that they are set against in the book are rapists, cannibals, and murders. Honestly I found it insulting as a Christian, a Gun owner and worse as a law abiding citizen.

Save your [...] an buy something you could actually use like When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes I wish I had.
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165 of 207 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2010
Obviously the author of this book knows what he is talking about when it comes to preparedness. This however does not translate into being able to write an effective novel.

There are a lot of other reviews that I am sure go over the plot in detail so I will just touch on those things that made me give this a 1 star.

First off almost 10-20% of this book is not actual dialogue, plot, or any other form of narrative. It is instead a compilation of lists. For instance there is a scene in the book where two brothers are fleeing from the police in a van with gun show merchandise. The contents of the van are described in excruciating detail. The type and number of specific weapons, the type and number of different load bearing equipment, the specific number of each type of bullet for each type of gun in the van and how they are packed in different types of containers etcetera etcetera. Only for the van to then be left behind and neither it nor its contents ever are mentioned again, so what was the point of all of that itemization? The book is filled with examples of this unnecessary clutter of lists.

Which leads to the second point. The author goes into detail about mundane of pointless activities throughout the book. For instance in the above mentioned chase scene he goes into how many magazines the people load and with what types of ammunition and the capacity of the magazines just in case they get into a fire fight with the police. But they dont, so again there is no point. Or another example; there is a chapter where the book goes into agonizing detail about how people build a fence. It was less than riveting. Most of the detail and "filler" in the book is useless and never plays a part in the book in any way, which leave you wondering why you bothered to read it at all.

The third issue I had with this book is that it is billed as a survivalist novel, but it really isnt. Once you get past all of the various detailed inventories there is very little talk about life after the collapse and the rebuilding that follows. It is just magically accomplished because people pray everyday. And there is hardly anything approaching "survival in the face of the collapse" because the characters in the book are so well stocked with every sort of supply possible that routinely giving away supply's to strangers posses no hardship on them. It should instead be called a novel of "having more than you could want while the world goes down the drain". And that hardly makes for entertaining reading, so the last third of the book is a flawed and oversimplified recounting of how the evil UN tries to take over the US on the behest of some nameless global consortium of bankers who secretly run everything. Of course the militia are able to win in the end because they have the moral high-ground. Though even the manner in which this victory is achieved smacks more of deus ex machina than anything approaching reality. As the "invading" forces simply give up and switch sides to the militia seemingly overnight and without any tangible reasoning behind this dramatic shift.

Fourth down on the list is how badly written this novel is. The characters are wooden, one dimensional and there is absolutely no character development present in the book, apparently because the author believes them to be the paragons on virtue and what it means to be an American. This concept is enough to scare you because these "patriots" have such skewed and warped sensibilities that it is impossible to believe it is real. They wont eat canned food they find abandoned because they consider it stealing. But at the same time the have no problem at all ambushing and accosting strangers who are simply walking down the road, only to examine all of their possessions and grill them on each and every thing they possess.

There is no moral gray area in this book at all. It is written in such a way that you are supposed to side with the obviously righteous and religiously fanatical heroes. The book is filled with moral polarization. The "bad guys" are so over the top on the 'make them contemptuous' scale that its sad. The author wasnt willing to let the bad guys just be looters because you might empathize with them; so they were also cannibals. But it doesnt stop there because that wasnt bad enough and they are eventually found to be cannibal looter Communists who are eating children, the only surprising thing about this is that the author didnt also try to paint them as pedophiles.

After reading this book you are left with the unmistakable feeling that the author isnt so much writing about a tragic but foreseeable occurrence, but is instead writing about something that he secretly HOPES will come about. This is clearly shown in the laundry list of constitutional changes (some of which may be reasonable but others which are just laughable) that are unanimously voted in and miraculously reshape the country (that was only months before engaged in civil war) into a gleaming edifice of prosperity.

This book is not worth your time or your money. If you are interested in collapse of civilization novel you are much better off going somewhere else. Try reading "Dies the Fire" by SM Stirling, or "The Road". Both are much better examples of the genre on every level.
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40 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2011
This book should be titled "What to buy for the End of the World if you are Filthy Rich". That is the only thing this would be good for.

I had heard so much about this book that I finally broke down and bought a copy.

Most of the pages are nothing but filler in between very poor story telling. Spelling mistakes I can get over, getting a little off base with the story I can handle that but this has to be , hands down the worst piece of SHTF fiction I have ever read.

Hypocrites abound in this book. They have no problem stopping people on a public road at gun point yet further in the book when they are travelling its a different story when it happens to them. They expect everyone to follow the law except them. They never make mistakes etc.

The part where one of them manages somehow to go through every Spec Ops school this country has... Sounds like a 13 year old wrote that part right after he spent a day playing Call of Duty.

An army invades most of the U.S. with ease yet a handful of people turns the tide then the rest of the people are so grateful they pledge themselves to them and to fight under their "Flag"?

Yes folks, it is that bad...
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87 of 109 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2010
Awful, simply terrible.

This book is a self-indulgent fifth-grader's wet-dream about his fantasy tree fort. It would almost be readable, except that Rawles cannot write any better than a fifth-grader either.

Every single line in the book begins and ends with, not the name of the character, but the weapon that they are holding, a discussion of its scope mounts, how it is slung, what grain powder is in the ammo, the FPS and drop rate of that bullet on a windy day, etc etc etc.

There is no story, it is just a tactical catalog list of all the things that Rawles wishes he could buy. Oh, and not to blow what passes for the ridiculous story, but through Rawles' relentless blathering about rifles, the Survivalist "characters" eventually build their own Airforce out of ultralights, single handedly defeat the entire combined United Nations Armies, Navies, and Air Forces, and everyone in the now freed world kisses their feet for being the true visionaries and protectors of Freedom.

Yeah, its THAT bad.
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250 of 319 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2009
I bought this book after looking at the high overall score it got, and after reading a few of the good reviews. How I wish I would have read some of the 1 star reviews before buying it!

This book is without a doubt the worst novel I have ever read in my life. Where to begin? First off, there is no real story involved here. There are probably 20 pages of blather in between every plot progression in the book. The plot will progress a little bit, then Rawles will spend the next 4 or 5 pages describing in painful detail weapon specifications, inventories, etc.

There is also no character development whatsoever, besides the fact that they are all a bunch of religious zealots. When they aren't ambushing and killing communist cannibals (seriously), they are either praying, discussing religion, or engaging in other drivel that makes each page more boring than the next.

Their moral compass is completely out of whack as well. These are people who won't eat canned food they find on the side of the road because they consider it "stealing", but think nothing of accosting private citizens walking down a public street at gunpoint while they meticulously go through all of their private belongings, questioning them on each item.

And what is up with the author's name? I guess it should have been a warning sign when the author puts his name on the book like "James Wesley, Rawles" What the hell is the comma for? Later on in the book they have a child at the retreat and they name the kid "Jacob Edward Samuel, Gray". WTF???

In order for a end of the world survival novel to be successful, you have to be able to relate to the characters. after nearly 200 pages, I still could not remember which one is which. I found myself thinking that if I was in that situation, I would rather be out on my own fending off looters than living with these nutcases at their retreat.

To conclude, any body who gave this book more than 2 stars hasn't read nearly enough books. It is total garbage. The only good thing about it is that there is some decent survivalist information in the book. However, there are much much better books you can read to get the same information without have to read 20 pages of some nutjobs blathering just to get a few useful tips.

I wish I had my money back on this book, it is truly pathetic and a waste of money. Buyer beware!
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89 of 112 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2009
Where to start. First, would-be purchasers should be aware that "James Wesley, Rawles" - what's up with that? - runs a generally excellent "preparedness" site. He has a devoted following and has told his minions to order this book and give it a five-star rating. This has skewed the ratings. If anyone genuinely read it and thought it was worth five stars, they're the sort of people who can't read without moving their lips. But I digress.

Most of the other reviewers who gave this book a one or two star rating have correctly noted that as far as plot, characterization, dialogue, and the other elements that make a novel worth reading, this "novel" is dog vomit. The publisher, Ulyssses Press, apparently caters to self-publishing authors, because if Mr. Rawles would've submitted this book to a real publisher, it never would have seen the light of day. It's that bad.

The writing and storytelling are horrendous. The dialogue, such as it is, is coma-inducing. While renegades manning highway roadblocks might randomly kill and rob you, Rawles won't let them use profanity. All of the characters, good and bad - there's nobody in between - make cardboard seem vibrant and engaging by contrast. None of them are remotely memorable. I often had to flip back a chapter or two to remind myself who was who, since all of the "preppers" of the so-called Northwestern Militia are essentially interchangeable: colorless people with some specialized survial skill. Rawles's grimly dogmatic King James Bible worldview is omnipresent throughout. There is no coherence or logical flow to the "novel," thanks to herky-jerky plot shifts (or what passes for a plot) and Rawle's frequent indeterminable tangents that introduce new "single-serving" characters and various odd/esoteric themes that add little to the story and in some cases are downright disturbing.

For example, two of his characters, "Matt and Chase Keane," are depicted as God-fearing Patriot boys who make a living as selling firearms at gun shows. Their deep-seated resistance to government "tryanny" i.e. such arbitrary and oppressive rules as the legal obligation to carry a valid driver's license and registration, come from their interpretation of arcane laws dating back to the Revolutionary War years, which Rawles delves into in excruciating detail. Clearly Rawles has never been T-boned by some DUI jackass driving on a suspended license and with no insurance, as I have been. These two principled, church-going Christian lads happen to be pulled over by a jack-booted, proto-fascist State trooper - depicted as fairly representative of state and Federal law enforcement - itching to carry his scorn for "patriots" into extrajudicial roadside murder. However, the Keane Brothers valiantly defend themselves in a shootout in which no one suffers a scratch, speed off, then go underground. What Rawles neglects to mention is that his "Matt and Chase Keane" characters and their shootouts with the police are lifted unimaginatively from the real-life Chevie and Cheyne Kehoe brothers, twins and hardcore white supremacists who committed at least three murders, including that of a woman and eight-year-old girl who they tortured with electrical cattle prods and suffocated with a plastic bag over her head during a home-invasion robbery. I was flabergasted that Rawles would use these psychopaths as inspiration for Christian patriot "heroes." Of course, in the novel the brothers immediately renounce their white separatist views when they encounter one of the token minority survivalist-patriots whose sole purpose in the book seems to be to deflect any criticism that any militias or book scenario itself could possibly be racist. Riiiight....

The cause of the apocalyptic societal collapse is plausible enough - a collapse of the currency caused by excessive spending and Weimar Republic style inflation/money-printing. The Fed's ongoing binge of "quantitative easing" (printing trillions of dollars out of thin air) brings this scenario closer by the day. However, the plot takes a hard turn toward the outlandish when a UN-backed Quisling governent tries to impose itself on the collapsed US. Even by Rawles' standards these UN stooges are particularly comic-book evil and simplistic in their depiction. Never mind that in a worldwide financial collapse, European nations would almost certainly see the rise of far-right nationalists adamantly opposed to supporting any UN-imposed New World Order. Never mind that Eurozone eoconomy's are collapsing and their military budgets are being slashed. Never mind that the US pays about 85% of the UN's budget, so if we experienced a total economic collapse, there would no one else to underwrite such prohibitively expensive UN military deployment. In "Patriots," however, German and Belgian troops make up the shock troops who arrive on our shores to occupy the devasted, mostly depopulated US under a UN banner, under the auspices of international bankers. Never mind that European publics have shown themselves vehemently against foreign military interventions in recent years. Witness how ineffective the European members of George W. Bush's "Coalition of the Billing" were in Iraq and Afghanistan, and how quickly they found reasons to pull their forces out when the going got tough. U.S. troops in Afghanistan have sarcastically noted that "ISAF" stands for "I Suck at Fighting." Why Belgium and Germany would support such a folly as invading and occupying the US landmass is never explained, nor can Rawles explain how the UN, which has botched every military action it has undertaken since its inception, is suddenly vaulted to the rank of first-rate military power. Yes friends and neighbors, the same UN that has failed miserably to impose order or security in pissant places like Bosnia and Sierra Leone will somehow muster the forces and military prowess to forcibly subjugate a dangerous and chaotic America - as if. I suspect the otherwise ultra-straitlaced Rawles must've been hitting the bong when he concocted this scenario.

Personally, I would've used the motherless Commie hordes from Mainland China as the aggressors, since a collapse such as Rawle's describes would leave Beijing holding the bag on over a trillion dollars in US dollar-denominated obligations and T-bills. Be that as it may, the patriot militias surge forth to banish the UN, since we all know that paranoid loners form the most disciplined and cohesive military formations - NOT! Suddenly the Red Dawn scenario of Soviet paratroops storming Colorado High Schools for some inexplicable strategic purpose seems totally plausible by comparison. The danger, of course, is that on the lunatic fringe of the militia and survialist movements they take such "threats" and scenarios seriously, raising the potential for some nut-job to confuse fact and fantasy and act accordingly.

Rawles and his minions make much of the fact that he was a former Army intelligence officer. If so, he couldn't have been a very good one. He seems to uncritically accept lunatic-fringe conspiracy theories on such topics as the Oklahoma City bombing, which he darkly insinuates was a Federal Government plot to smear the patriotic militias and/or serve as a pretext to accumulate police-state powers). This despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, including Timothy McVeigh's own extensive revelations and admission of guilt in "American Terrorist". Rawles seems to view everything and everyone through the prism of his paranoia about the New World Order or End-of-Times views, rather than honestly and objectively evaluating verifiable facts to come up with reasoned, well-supported assessments and analyses. His seeming admiration for the murderous Kehoe brothers is especially telling, which makes me wonder how much of a borderline personality he really is.

I bought this book on a whim at a local sporting goods store. The cover and jacket blurb looked interesting and I've had growing concerns over the possibility of a serous economic crash playing out both globally and in the US. Plus, I'd recently read Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" and the topic of preparedness has captured my attention ever since. So I don't regret buying this book, if only for the simple reason that I can now say I've read the worst novel ever published in this or any other galaxy. To be fair, "Patriots" does have some redeeming value from the standpoint of making people think through how to prepare for various man-made or natural disasters. But as a story, it fails miserably.
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