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

What to do WROL

Returning to Our Basest Instincts

There are thousands of potential scenarios that could leave our society without rule of law (WROL). I’ve spent time covering Events that could do such a thing (EMP, tech), but I haven’t yet explored what society WROL looks like. Without the many luxuries we’ve grown to take for granted, our primal natures begin to overtake our sense of community. If food stocks begin to deplete and available water runs short, paranoia will sweep through the population. Unfortunately, paranoia tends to breed chaos and fracture our societal structures. The police force, government, and firemen we’re used to will no longer command the authority or respect they once did. You must be ready to adapt to a society that degenerates into every man for himself. This is what to do WROL:

 1. Prepare for the Long Term

When your community looks as if it will be WROL, you must first accumulate enough food, water, and medical supplies as possible. If you or a family member has a chronic illness, it’s important that you prioritize getting as much medication as possible. Chronic illnesses don’t just afflict a single person in the community, so it’s critical to be quick and efficient in ensuring your own survival. While this may sound cruel, we will see that far crueler acts are performed WROL. Once you have what you need to survive, you must protect it at all costs. Your shelter should be secure and you should have the necessary arms to defend what’s yours. I recommend reading William Forstchen’s One Second After to learn the power of quick thinking when society is WROL.

2. Never Go Out Alone

WROL, the police force is no longer around to maintain order. You should have someone with you to offer you protection if you leave your secure location. The above mentioned food, water, and medical supplies you’re in pursuit of are valuable to others as well. Have a partner or team with you to protect your goods. Moreover, you need to protect one another. We don’t need to dive too far into history books before reading about the gruesome acts men have committed against other men and women in war time. Prepare for violent outbursts when you’re exposed to those you don’t know or trust.

3. Set the Example

Societies are only temporarily WROL. Ultimately, order reemerges and the community rebuilds. That said, it should be the responsibility of the level-headed preppers to help instill the right values in those on the new governing body. Germany’s leadership following its defeat in WWI led to the atrocities committed during WWII. However, after its defeat in WWII, Germany ultimately became a leader and promoter of European democracy. Communities, let alone nations, aren’t necessarily set on the right course after societal breakdown. It’s up to us to create the model for the future.

Reemerging Stronger

Those of you who have read some of my other posts may think I’m a pessimist. However, I think that there are enough rationally minded and kind-hearted people out there to get society back on track if we are ever to be WROL. Communities can emerge more tightly knit and with shared values after experiencing a period of suffering. New York City became more resilient than ever following 9/11 due to the heroism and selfless acts performed by local, national, and international citizens. Doom and gloom doesn’t need to linger; in fact, times of crisis can bring us closer together and cause us to become stronger than ever.

If you have any suggestions or would like to discuss society WROL further, please contact me or leave a comment.

What do to WROL

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

How To Create a SHTF Escape Plan

SHTF Escape Plan

One Escape Plan Is Not Good Enough

Human beings are busy creatures. We wake up in our homes, go to work during the day, go out and socialize when our shifts end, and spend time back at home with family in the evening. When Sh*t Hits The Fan (SHTF), you should know your plan for escape from any one of the above mentioned locations. Escape plans require creativity, preparation, logistical analysis, and pragmatism. While some of your escape plans may look great on paper, you should be able to execute them when necessary. Let’s walk through some things to consider when creating your SHTF escape plan.

Situational Awareness

Before you can hop in your car and drive down the highway, you need to first consider your situation. Where are you? Who are you with? Where are the exits located? What do you do after making your exit? Escaping your situation alone is different than escaping with others, so you should be able to answer the following questions:

  1. Will I be on my own when escaping my immediate location?
  2. After escaping my immediate location, will I meet with others before making it to safety?
    • If so, consider training others to make it to the secure location without your assistance.
  3. Do I need to retrieve anything before making it to safety?

Once removed from your immediate location, you should identify your primary route to safety. Your significant others should follow this primary route as well. You don’t want to delay an escape by waiting for others to meet you outside of the secure location. It’s important that you have the necessary supplies to sustain you during your escape. I recommend strategically placed bug-out bags to better ensure your successful escape.

Logistical Analysis

Escape plans come in many forms. Folks on the island of Manhattan would need to consider an escape plan by water or air, while those in land-locked states need to escape by land. No escape plan is the same, so you should prepare the logistics of your escape in advance. I suggest first identifying your secure location and then working backwards. Do you have a bunker you want to get to? Where is it? How do I get there? What are my contingency plans? Again, exiting your immediate location is the first step. From there, you’ll need to get to your primary escape route. Let’s use an example: my secure location is a bunker isolated in a forest fifty miles from my home. I’ve identified the exits from my immediate location. I know my primary escape route is by back roads in my vehicle. I have a bug-out bag in my home and in my locker at my place of employment. Therefore, my steps should be as follows:

  1. Exit immediate location
  2. Retrieve bug-out bag
  3. Follow escape route
    • You’ll need to consider whether conditions allow for your primary route. You should have a contingency plan just in case.
  4. Arrive at secure location

Be Pragmatic

Escapes should be as quick as conditions allow for. You should balance heroism with survival chances. Not everyone can be saved, so you should prioritize the safety and security of you and your loved ones. You should only grab the essentials for your route to safety, but it’s important to have survival needs at your secure location. For a more in-depth review, I suggest you read the Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) Operations Manual.

If you have any questions, comments, or additional tips, don’t hesitate to contact me. You can also head to the Bunker Basics Store to check out some survival gear.

SHTF Escape Plan SAS Survival Handbook, Third Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere