Non-Fiction SHTF Tactical Book Reviews
Now that I’ve finished some writing of my own on similar topics, I’ve been free to read other’s works that have featured prominently in this community.
Jack Lawson’s Civil Defense Manual
I had a chance to peruse Mr. Lawson’s book this weekend at a friend’s house. This is a comprehensive and universal disaster survival manual. This reminds me of the big go-to cookbooks that everybody used to have that tells you how to cook anything. No exhaustive details on a particular cuisine, but enough for you to pull off a big dinner with great results.
The CDM covers pretty much every emergency scenario you could imagine happening in reality. This is the book that you keep around for when the low probability emergency (that you didn’t prepare for) which suddenly becomes high probability. I would highly recommend it as a gift to less apocalyptically inclined family members. Yes, on Christmas morning they’ll probably flip through it with some mild curiosity and then shelve it, but when SHTF they are going to go straight to it.
Now we can’t help people who won’t read this stuff beforehand and prepare proactively, but the way Lawson wrote is book could help people who are ready to listen. He serves everything up to the willing ear with a persuasive argument. I call this “why you should care.” The chapters are written in a friendly and relatable manner. Historical and personal anecdotes are includes which personalize the danger, the need for concern, and that preparation can be achievable.
You can see this from the excepts published on American Partisan. Lawson doesn’t overwhelm people, which may scare them, nor does he bash people over the head with an info dump. The tone is positive, i.e. making someone want to survive instead of becoming frightened, apathetic, and hopeless.
So keep a copy around for when “I didn’t think that could happen here” happens and give a copy to your clueless friends and relatives.
Joe Dolio’s Tactical Wisdom series (TW-#)
These series of books are essentially field manuals for the civilian who expects a need to operate in a tactical or combat manner. In other words, how to move and fight like a soldier or Marine. The way this information is presented is easily relatable and clear. It literally is like an instruction manual. Editions cover both urban and rural combat.
What I enjoyed most is the manuals were not oriented towards prior combat arms and seem to have come from a line infantry vs. special forces perspective. Even a green civilian with little tactical sense could be well educated in the principles of not dying and making the other guy die. If you want to know how to patrol in a military fashion after SHTF, these are the manuals.
Third, there is no fluff. Actual field manuals are often less instruction books than they are definitions of policy and doctrine. If you want a “how to” book, this series is it. If you enjoyed the Ranger manual because it covers everything and gets to the point, you’ll enjoy Dolio’s series. I particularly liked his interactions with Antifa while undercover. In future editions of my own urban combat non-fiction works, I will be including a reference to these books for those who need tactical instruction.
Fernando “Ferfal” Aguirre: The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse & Street Survival Skills: Tips, Tricks and Tactics for Modern Survival
For those who haven’t been following “Ferfal” since he was online only posting his advice in forums, etc. you’ve been missing a great resource. He’s actually lived through an economic collapse in Argentina. His experience is the one that scares me the most; enough to make conditions dangerous and day-to-day living difficult, but not bad enough to where you get to quit your job and can shoot bad guys.
Imagine living in a world where food is expensive, hard to come by, and you still have to commute to a terrible job but you get carjacked and robbed along the way. That was Fernando’s world. I would suspect that America will begin to look like his Argentina for a while until a total collapse comes and the rule of law disappears.
Both books go through the day-to-day of living in sudden poverty. Most of us have family memories of the Great Depression, except for all intents and purposes that was another America. The fractured, polarized, and multicultural society we now live in resembles Argentina more and I highly suspect an economic breakdown here will necessitate Fernando’s skills more than our grandparents’ “make do with poverty” grit of the Thirties.
Specifically, his books look at things like navigating black or gray markets and establishing trust with local merchants. The stark reality of self and home defense in violent and dangerous world, but still with the nominal rule of law, are included. Fernando’s books are part instructional and part a reality check of how SHTF won’t be all “just shoot everybody.”
Clay Martin: Concrete Jungle and Prairie Fire. These are very good for building an advanced team of shooters. Clay is a colorful writer so if you are easily offended by language or are a leftist don't read. I will cover these separately in another review as a pair.
Lionel Shriver: The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047. This novel is a look at a leftist America in an economic collapse. I think this scenario is highly plausible and what we will face. It is also kind of funny and there is a lot of schadenfreude at “feel good” liberals living in a blue hellhole city reaping the rewards of what they’ve sewn.
Dean Ing: Pulling Through. Simply the best nuclear war survival novel I’ve ever read. Realistic and full of practical advice. A third of the book is actual articles on how to survive a nuclear war. It is out of print and the copies are hard to find, but I will let you have my copy in exchange for an attractive daughter or sister (21-30, must be in the “unicorn” zone).
Gordon Hutchinson and Todd Masson: The Great New Orleans Gun Grab. Yes, the book is about gun control and confiscation. Besides that, it 1. provides an excellent look at what self-defense and crime during a semi-WROL (without rule of law) situation would be like and 2. gives you an insight to cop’s mentality during the near-end of the world.
Anything Selco Begovic has written. Selco is a survivor of the horrific Siege of Sarajevo. A total WROL collapse will not be a picnic. Anyone expecting the end of the world to be a walk in the park needs to read this for a dose of reality. I mean, women are selling themselves for a can of spam to feed their kids. Do you want that to be your wife?
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Author Don Shift
Don Shift is a veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office and avid fan of post-apocalyptic literature and film who has pushed a black and white for a mile or two. He is a student of disasters, history, and current events.