One Year After Book Review

One Year After Book Review

Adapting to Life after “The Day

William Forstchen continues his story about the people of Black Mountain after an EMP strike in One Year After. Readers learn that over 80% of Americans have died in the year following the EMP strike. Over half of the population of Japan, Eastern Europe, western Russia, and the Ukraine have also perished. The survivors find that much of America has devolved into chaos as tribal factions vie for power over the remaining states. China has deployed troops under the guise of “maintaining stability.” The US government, in an effort to restore order, issued draft notices to hundreds of military aged men and women in Black Mountain. We rejoin the story’s lead character, John Matherson, as he addresses the townspeople.

Following the bitter battle Black Mountain’s militia fought against The Posse, Black Mountain residents believed themselves to have seen and experienced enough suffering. Matherson and his wife, Makala, were nominated to meet with Dale Fredericks, the new federal administrator in Asheville, in an effort to get Black Mountain’s residents an exception to the draft. Matherson assessed Fredericks to be a government bureaucrat intent on controlling Black Mountain. He therefore grew skeptical of Fredericks’ claims to have the people of Black Mountain at heart. One Year After Book Review


Life in Black Mountain began to strongly resemble that of the 19th century. Ether is again used for surgery and teeth removal, canning and hunting is taught at the college, and the townspeople use their collective brainpower to build a hydroelectric generating system. Electricity, which had been taken for granted before The Day, would need to be restored in order to both boost morale and return some sense of normalcy to the people of Black Mountain. Forstchen beautifully illustrates a world that has been stripped of its former luxuries and the response such a reality elicits from survivors.

Making Friends and Enemies

Forstchen shows how difficult it is to develop trust among people in the absence of our institutions. Matherson’s distrust of Fredericks ultimately proves to be well-founded. The people of Black Mountain learn of Fredericks’ mismanagement of the military he has a hand in controlling and they grow resistant to the prospect of fighting for leaders they don’t believe in. That said, the survivalists living on the outskirts of Black Mountain form a partnership with Matherson. The shared sense of resistance to irresponsible government dictates creates a bond more powerful than any lingering animosities.

Fredericks, sensing a threat to his power, sends a message to the survivalists that he has the resources necessary to assert his legitimacy. Forstchen depicts the carnage, strategy, and human elements of battle in his description of the conflict that erupts between the two warring sides. The recurring themes of integrity and morality are threaded through the pages of One Year After, which make the narrative as instructional as it is engaging. I strongly recommend Forstchen’s sequel to One Second After, especially as we see our own nation losing its own moral compass.

If you want to talk further about the book, please leave a comment below or contact me directly. Please also read my review of One Second After. If you want to see more Forstchen books, you can head to the Bunker Basics Store.

One Year After Book ReviewOne Year After Book Review


One Second After Book Review

One Second After Book Review

When Life as You Know It Ends

William Forstchen’s One Second After follows the life of John Matherson after an EMP strike rids Black Mountain, North Carolina of electricity. Matherson, a former Army Colonel and well respected college professor, recognizes the extent of the crisis early. Having learned about them during wartime, he informs the town’s leaders about EMPs:

“We finally figured out that when you set off a nuke in space, that’s when the EMP effect really kicks in, as the energy burst hits the upper atmosphere. It becomes like a pebble triggering an avalanche, the electrical disturbances magnifying… It’s called the ‘Compton effect.'” (63-64)

The EMP rendered most cars useless, led to a run on banks, and made communication at a distance impossible. Planes, including Air Force 1, fell out of the sky. The nation’s inhabitants had grown so accustomed to the luxuries of modern living that chaos ultimately replaced the former comforts.

Prepping for the Long Haul

Matherson knew that power was not coming back anytime soon, so he took immediate steps to prepare. The father of a diabetic daughter, Matherson collected as much insulin as he could from the pharmacy. He stocked up on cigarettes to both sustain his nicotine addiction and potentially use them as currency. Lastly, Matherson wanted his family close. His father in law was located in a nursing home, which was very poorly equipped to handle an EMP. Technology meant to help the elderly survive shut down, resulting in the unfortunate demise of many in the facility. Matherson saves his father in law from this same fate by bringing him home to be cared for by those who love him.

Matherson appreciated how desperate many of the town’s inhabitants would get when left without food. He pulled out his guns, coached his daughters how to use them, and had a plan in place to ensure everyone knew what to do in the event of a break in. Matherson’s prescience kept his family protected and secure.

Collaboration and Cannibalism

Matherson and the rest of Black Mountain’s leaders need to find allies as law begins to erode. They work to develop an alliance with the neighboring Asheville, only to disappointingly come away without a mutually beneficial agreement. The Black Mountain leaders therefore need to rely more heavily on themselves. They build a militia of college students to protect against outside threats, which rumors suggest grow nearer with each passing day. A townsperson bore witness to a cult-like collection of people called “The Posse” slaughtering and feasting on other humans. The people of Black Mountain will not let the town fall without a fight, so they ready for battle.

Primeval Nature

War breaks out in Black Mountain, which takes both a physical and mental toll on the survivors. I won’t spoil the outcome, but I’ll instead touch upon the psychological effects of disaster Forstchen so beautifully illustrates. In times of bitter distress, people devolve into their most primitive states. Food, water, family, and shelter are all that are valued, and people will kill for each. At the community level, horrific decisions about who lives and who dies need to be made. I argue that in circumstances like in the aftermath of an EMP, we can become increasingly more inhuman. Forstchen’s narrative is an incredibly gripping description of such circumstances that we can both learn from and enjoy.

If you’d like to chat further about the book, feel free to contact me or leave a comment in the comment section. You can read my review of Forstchen’s sequel, One Year After, right here. You can also find other Forstchen books in the Bunker Basics Store.

One Second After Book Review

5 Things to Do to Survive an EMP

Survive an EMP

What Exactly is an EMP?

An EMP is an electromagnetic pulse, or a short burst of magnetic energy. While the acronym “EMP” typically calls to mind images of disaster, lightning, which is largely benign, is actually a type of EMP. The two types of EMPs that fall into the “disastrous” category are Coronal Mass Injections (Solar Flares) and Nuclear EMPs deployed by a military or rogue actor. EMPs of these varieties would cause devastation including, but not limited to, the below examples:

  • All electrically powered devices will shut down
  • Fires may ignite as a result of electrical surges
  • Planes may fall out of the sky
  • Nuclear generators will not be able to cool, resulting in nuclear explosions
  • Hysteria will ensue

Nuclear EMP: A Very Real Threat

Governments have increasingly invested in their military capabilities, making military-grade nuclear EMPs a very real possibility. These EMPs can be deployed on missiles, follow nuclear bombs, and dropped from drones. Geopolitical tensions continue to escalate, so it’s important to prepare for a weaponized EMP. Below are 5 things to do to survive an EMP:

1. Get to a Secure Location

If you don’t have a bunker, then it’s important that you ensure your home is secure following The Event. You should have a deadbolt on your front door and plenty of strong wood to board your windows and other vulnerabilities in your home. Alternatively, if you do have a bunker or other secure location away from your primary residence, execute your escape plan and head there ASAP. An EMP will nearly guarantee your car will be out of commission, so it’s important to factor this in.

2. Stock up on Food and Water

Your secure location should be stocked with non-perishable food and water. EMPs knock out all electrical devices, so the food in your refrigerator will quickly spoil. It’s wise to have canned food, food pouches, bars, and other such means of nourishment that can sustain you in times of crisis. I also recommend investing in a wood stove. Bottled water and water filters are also necessities. There are plenty of food supply kids available for purchase, like the Red Cross’s 4 person 72 hour food supply kit.

3. Devise an Escape Plan

All preppers should have escape plans in anticipation of an EMP. If your home is not secure from potential threats, you’ll need to escape to your secure location. A bug-out bag should be packed beforehand and you should plan the logistics of getting to your destination. EMPs will very likely render cars inoperable, so you’ll likely need to escape to your secure location on foot. Any good escape plan should account for an EMP.

4. Ensure your Security/Protection

I discussed above the value in ensuring the security of your home. Prepping is practiced among pessimists, so I don’t expect people to be rationally minded following an EMP attack. You should protect yourself with guns and be trained to use them. I also recommend training for hand to hand and knife combat.

5. Build a Faraday Cage

Faraday cages, named after the late English scientist, Michael Faraday, protect electronic equipment from electrical charges. Any vital electronics you want to survive an EMP should be stored within a Faraday cage. I suggest putting your electronics in plastic bags, which are wrapped in multiple layers of aluminum foil. These items should be surrounded by cardboard and placed in a metal trash can. Be careful to prevent your items from touching the metal trash can.

Final Notes

Get smart about EMPs! One Second After by William Forstchen should be required reading for anyone even remotely interested in learning about EMPs. While this is a fiction novel and slightly exaggerated, the book provokes the reader to think further about his safety following an EMP attack. Preppers willing to invest the time and money should consider generators, fuel, and analog devices (wind up radios, mechanical watches, etc.) There is nothing impractical about being prepared. If you have any other suggestions, please leave a comment below or contact me. You can also find other Forstchen books and survival gear in the Bunker Basics Store.

Survive an EMP