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Gray Man: Camouflage for Crowds, Cities, and Civil Crisis Paperback – September 12, 2017
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About the Author
Matthew Dermody is a writer of two previously published books as well as guest blogs and articles on the subject of camouflage and concealment. He maintains a website focusing on the educational and instructional aspects of the art of camouflage. He is available for consultation and offers training seminars for both law enforcement/military personnel and civilians. He currently lives in the Inland Northwest region of the United States with his wife and twin daughters.
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Good fast read
Dermody breaks going undetected in urban environments down into a number of words starting with S, and then devotes a chapter to each of them. Unfortunately, some of the chapters seem more like a conversation with a kind of crazy uncle, who might share some good stories and insight, or who might go on a bizarre rant about something utterly irrelevant. The Self-Control chapter, for example, includes a paragraph about how he doesn't trust drive-thrus to get his order right. As a one-off it would be amusing, but the book is full of these weird tangents that don't seem to relate to the subject of the book, nor the chapter.
The "rants of my crazy old uncle" notion is furthered when he talks in detail about how teens wearing their jeans sagging low are unknowingly echoing a trend in which inmates who prostitute themselves out will wear their pants low as an advertisement for their services, and that he is troubled by this trend. I'm not sure whether this is even true, but in any case it's wildly irrelevant to the topic of blending into an environment, to the point that it probably doesn't even need to be visited. He later explores the history of men wearing long beards, and notes that some former special ops people have adopted that look, but "so have many non-combat urban hipsters who are the 2.0 version of hippies." Several pages are then devoted to talking about a teenage prank he consider playing on someone, but didn't. These digressions almost never add anything of value; often they feel entirely irrelevant, and occasionally seem like they delve into sharing his personal political preferences. (I still remain baffled by what the sentence, "Until recently, the segregation of the sexes in public bathrooms was a socially accepted, albeit, discriminatory safeguard to protect women and children" is even trying to say. Is it a shot at the transgender population, or are Ally McBeal style unisex bathrooms making a rise somewhere? And again, what on earth does this have to do with the book?!)
As the book goes on, it becomes apparent that the target audience seems to be military-type folks, not ordinary civilians who simply prefer to not stand out in the crowd. He has a decently-long section on everyday carry items, including a concealed-carry handgun and spare magazine. I do so, but was surprised a book on blending into crowds in urban environments would recommend that. I was more surprised when he recommended wearing a compass on a paracord bracelet, which seems like a good way to present a "tactical" appearance and attract unwanted attention.
Overall, my greatest frustration isn't the frequent digressions, but that very little time is spent talking about what would help one actually accomplish the Gray Man objective of passing through crowds without being seen. There is, no doubt, some good advice in the book, and as a free read on Kindle Unlimited, I don't regret reading it. It could really benefit from some additional editing, though, to excise the weird digressions, and to try to replace them with more specifics on what we can do to better blend in. I'd be strongly interested in reading an updated version of this book, because I think it has a lot of potential. It's just a fairly frustrating read in its current form.