Survivors – Rawles
Survivors – James Wesley Rawles
ATRIA Books – 2011
One of my first experiences with other preppers when I first started my journey in preparedness was attending a local Meetup group dedicated to building a community for the sake of emergency preparedness. It was the first meeting of this group and we went around the room to introduce ourselves. There, one person brought up Rawles’ book Patriots. It was spoken of by all with reverence. I had never heard of the book, so I added it to my list of books that I should check out someday. Soon after that, it seemed like everywhere I visited on the internet, people were talking about Patriots. Again, it was like the sacred prepper bible or something.
I finally picked up a copy and couldn’t put it down. Since then, I have let others borrow my copy to read. One friend made so many notes in it that they bought me another book to replace my original.
With the kind of influence that Patriots has, it would be very hard for Rawles’ Survivors to meet the expectation that so many had when it was released. As a result, I was disappointed to read some of the reviews that came out the first week that Survivors came out. People tried to compare it to Patriots and it didn’t match up. Well of course not! Patriots has taken on a life of its own.
Patriots was available when many were starting to “wake up” to how fragile we all are. It is the type of book that scares you as you read it, but puts the desire in you to prepare and obtain some level of preparedness, whatever that means for you.
Survivors is a great read. Rawles again intertwines preparedness ideas and skills that should/can be obtained in a fictional story that keeps your attention. Survivors is not a prequel or a sequel to Patriots. It runs parallel with the story of Patriots with some overlap of characters. I would recommend that you read it if you haven’t.
My only criticism is that there are some big time jumps that Rawles makes in some chapters. I understand that this is necessary when you are writing a story that spans four plus years. I truly don’t know how I would do it either. It just seemed that the time jumps were a little choppy, but nothing I couldn’t live with.
My commitment to doing chapter reviews really slowed me down in reading this book. I might have to reevaluate future reviews. I remember one day, waiting for my car at the mechanics, tearing through many chapters, but stopping so I could catch up on the writing. I tried to incorporate a prepper take-away in every chapter, but I didn’t hold myself to it every time.
Below you will find the chapter reviews. Please note that as I started out, I wasn’t intending to include spoilers. I tried to change that midway through. So if you haven’t read the book, you might want to stop right here and come back after you read some chapters.
Survivors is a recommended read!
The book opens and we are introduced to Captain Andy Laine stationed at FOB (Forward Operating Base) Wolverine in Afghanistan. Very quickly the reader is introduced to the potential economic collapse. I would have liked to see the economic situation developed a little bit more. Why does Andy have the outlook that he has? I need to get that Dutch Oven.
Andy visits a local store and stocks up on food items, batteries and a gun, a very expensive gun.
Chapter 2 introduces Andy’s brother Lars and his family. They go to Sam’s and stock up as the economy heads south. “The Laine brothers shared a sense of urgency, realizing that there would likely be very few opportunities to stock up on things before mass currency inflation destroyed the value of their savings.” Scenario coming soon to a city near you? Is this possible? “Government spending was out of control. The credit market was in continuous turmoil. Meanwhile, bank runs and huge federal bailouts had become commonplace.” It’s kind of scary to read this fictional account and know that our economy and government are in the same exact situation. One major difference between fact/fiction is that the book has Europe in better shape than the US. Also, I don’t know how much damage off the record remarks from the chairman of “Deutsche Bundesbank” could actually do, but I don’t think it could cause as much economic damage as the book implies.
We learn why Lars is disabled and the grueling therapy and surgeries that he had to endure. We also get a glimpse into his personality, when he rips the VP while he is receiving his Purple Heart. Are most preppers/survivalists in your face types…even willingly to rip the Vice President of the United States? One could excuse his behavior due to the depression faced from his disability, but I don’t think that is the reason for this exchange. I’m sure we will gain more insight…
We are introduced to Andy’s girlfriend, Kaylee, who is staying with Lane and his wife on their ranch. Andy and Lane talk to each other over the phone. I think the biggest take away in this short chapter is the talking in code that Andy and Lane do. It reminded me of the term “Alas, Babylon.” It might be a good idea to have some family/friend code speak in mind.
Chapter 5 introduces Ignacioi Garcia. A burglar, he has a knack for staying under the radar, organizing and forecasting the coming crunch. One of Ignacio’s trusted lieutenant is ex-military. Again, this explains the importance to have people in your group who have varied experiences. Ignacio is not content with just preparing to survive. He makes plans to prepare well…complete with armored personnel carriers and big caliber guns. One has to imagine that this would be the scenario in the big city. I have to say that the details about Houston are right on.
Chapter 6 is a big chapter. Jerome and his family are introduced. Thanks to his “seasoned” grandmother-in-law, his wife Sheila begins to stock up on seed…a lot of seed. Note: Marigolds planted around the perimeter of a garden help protect from rabbits, moles and slugs. Jerome also purchases a very expensive (post crunch money) shotgun. He teaches the wife how to use it, “Right after you shoot one shell, after you pump the action, without taking the gun off your shoulder, you right quick shove another shell into the magazine.”
The chapter also introduces Ian and Blanca Doyle (remember them from Patriots). Ian trades off a Sten submachine gun for a plane. Barter doesn’t necessarily mean that you trade dollar for dollar. Sometimes, the need outweighs the actual monetary cost.
Lastly, Lars finds some Magic Cube camera flash cubes that can be used with a monofilament fishing line and a paper clip as an improvised intrusion alarm device.
Big oilman L. Roy Martin is introduced in chapter 7. He gets rumors flying when he moves his family from Houston to New Mexico and buys an oil refinery. Besides preparing by having some big generators that run on the abundant local natural gas, I think one of the important things is that L. has investigated that the Indian reservation grows a lot of produce…something that “might” be important later on.
Also, Andy prepares some hand receipts that allows him to keep his weapon as he heads the “Rear Party.” In preparing the receipts, he provides a way to document that he has the Sig without getting in trouble. However, to do this, he had to be a little devious.
Andy sends some emails to Kaylee.
We are introduced to the Phelps brothers. They are unrelated kids stuck in an orphanage that is closing down. They are young, 16 and 15 years of age. The good news: they are young and strong, can shoot, have some ranching skills and they have each other. The bad news: they are being sent off on their own.
Chapter 9 details Ian’s time in the Air Force before things head South fast. The take away is that during the crunch, there are many deserters. What will the military do to keep the men and women in uniform in tact for any real response? Ian also gets some bad news.
Sheila and the rest of the family, minus Jerome, move to a safer, smaller town. They rent a building and open a trading post, bartering all the seed they purchased. Things start to look good as many people come in to trade for seed.
In Radcliff, the Hardin County Board of Supervisors Chairman calls a meeting to discuss putting order back in place. The meeting was attended by General Clay Uhlich.
In Rio Arriba, the Phelps boys depart the orphanage and head out on their own.
Ian Doyle calls together those who haven’t deserted the base to dismiss them from active duty. He witnesses gangs looting the base as well as the Security room ransacked. He did find a cabinet of rifles that he takes. The take away is that looting is almost a foregone conclusion, even on military bases.
Foreseeing the future, L. Martin hired Ricardo Lopez as an engineer for his plant. Ricardo is from Cuba and had to make do with whatever he had available. Ricardo purchases a ton of small gas cans. In the future, those who are thinking and preparing can stay in business and potentially help many people survive as things get back to normal.
Andy prepares to make his trek back home. He pulls his stuff out of storage and sets up a make shift shop to sell what he has so that he can travel light. It is important to know what you will and will not part with in the future. Some things have monetary value and others have sentimental value. Can you let something go?
Andy officially becomes a reservist, but has to find his own way home since planes have been grounded all around. He purchases a bike and trailer in hopes of getting to the coast to get on a ship back to the states. It might be worth it to have some smaller denominations of gold/gold coins in an emergency.
Andy gets approached by some skinheads. He pulls his Sig. You have to be ready to pull the trigger!
Riding the bike causes a lot of physical strain, even though he is fit due to his military service. Physical demands on your body, as well as mental strains can be great. How many will give up and crawl into a ditch?
The chapter has some great abbreviations that are used in Morse Code. Having communication can be a great morale booster when you are tired, hungry and frustrated.
The grid finally goes down. Lars and the family make lists of important things to get: urgent, important and tertiary. How important is it to keep an inventory of what you have? If not, you might not realize how much or how little of something you have.
The Lanes go to church, without Kaylee. They meet the Phelps and hire them. More bartering for horse supplies.
A false wall provides Lars with some “goodies.” How important is it to keep things safe from the “bad” guys?
Chapter 18 also gives a little lesson in silver and how it keeps it’s worth against inflation.
Lars considers future bartering when he makes necessary purchases. He also comes up with security/standing rules and posts them around the ranch. Some of the rules: Always carry at least 40 rounds of ammo, treat every approaching stranger as a potential enemy, and severe punishment for anyone who falls asleep while one watch.
It goes without saying that in these type of situations, small mistakes or laziness and have big consequences. What would consider “severe consequences” though?
Lars visits Mr. Martin at the refinery and discuss how the community can best survive outside attacks and the needs of the community and it’s individuals as things deteriorate. Mr. Martin offers some of his fuel to keep security details moving to their locations. There conversation is interesting.
How much preparations can be made if communities were forward thinking about planning if/when the community finds itself in a predicament? We are so lazy and have become so at ease in our everyday lives. One only needs to look at some of the countries that have experienced collapse and/or war recently.
Gold has a way of getting what you want…not all the time, but it gets people to stop and listen to what you are offering. Chapter 21 also reminds you that you have to be decisive and ready to defend yourself if the need arises. At the same time, finding kind people along the way is welcomed in any situation or journey!
Andy comes across a group sailing to Belize on 42 foot sailboat. This is one instance where gold doesn’t get you what you want…firepower and skills do!
Back in the US, Ian and Blanca leave their home to meet up with a friend. There they join up with families and provide security…it’s a plus that they brought along some big guns! It’s always amazing how some will want to hold on to stupid rules instead of being rational and realistic.
The chapter goes back to Andy and the crew of the Durobrabis. After initial sea sickness, Andy does some gun and knife training. He finally gets a hold of Lars and Kaylee on shortwave.
Chapter 24 takes the reader back 20 years when Ian Doyle meets his future wife Blanca. The chapter provides background information but probably not necessary. Two take aways are: how Ian gathered “intelligence” and was very purposeful and patient in pursuing his future bride – a skill, and I mean the gathering intelligence and being purposeful and patient part, that we should all practice and the “sleeper” Mercedes with new engine and transmission that Blanca’s dad purchased to not give away their wealth to those who would want to do harm.
Back at the compound, Blanca takes out an intruder as the guys are out getting firewood. Although she was a good shot and had practiced shooting at targets, she hadn’t ever shot anything living.
La Fuereza is busy killing and pillaging Texas. The important thing to remember is that even criminals know that they need to gather information and scout out potential areas to rob/steal/kill. The chapter also brings up the idea that other thugs and bad guys will join up with a force like La Fuereza if it means their survival.
On the Durobrabis, Andy and the crew see some “action.”
Barter and gasoline are now the economy in Bloomfield, NM.
We are introduced to Ben Fielding in Tennessee. He realizes that he is in a good place to weather the crunch, which propane and water, but realizes that he is lacking in ammo and gasoline. Being in a Mennonite community is helpful when you are going to have to learn how to live without….
Engaging enemies on your own terms allows you to control the fight. Lars consults with a local business that has one of their grain elevators taken over. Having good intel and a plan are necessary to spare the lives of your own.
Back in Kentucky, the Sheila is doing good business, so good that she needs to think about protection. Part of the security plan is a set of motions and cues and pre-cut spots in a wall.
After four months, the Durobrabis arrives in Belize. The crew finds that there isn’t as much disruption as they thought. Andy goes ashore alone before anyone can do a customs inspection on the newly arrived crew.
Andy finds out that there are no ships headed to the United States. After inquiring about all other normal means of transportation, Andy asks about a horse.
Walking, hitting the road with his baggage (including his gun) safely in storage, Andy comes across some bad guys. Andy makes a run for it…but it doesn’t end well.
Thought should always go into defense and protection.
Andy has to do some major recovering, and thankfully good people can still be found in Belize. I guess it is important to remember that there will always be a bad element out there for every situation, but most people are good. It is important to be careful to find the good though.
Again in Kentucky, Sheila does good business with grandma’s rootbeer recipe. It’s the little things…
Word of the “Provisional Government” starts to make its way around. Many freedom loving people don’t like the sound of it.
The chapter begins by detailing some of the dealings of the Provisional Government….the corrupt, freedom killing government.
Andy starts to recover nicely, learning the language and going on hunts.
Lars and Lisbeth spend a good amount of time with the HAM radio, getting information from around the country and trying to contact family members. How important is it to have HAM radio? A little bit of effort here will go a long way.
Andy heads out and buys a horse (Prieto) for his trip home. More goes into the keeping of a horse than you could imagine, you just don’t give it gas! Andy finds a coin trader and trades in a Krugerrand for some silver coins. As he travels, Andy gains intel from friendly local people. He does his best to skirt around towns with bad elements.
Andy continues making his way through Mexico. At one point, he sees some action and acquires some extra fire power.
Andy finally makes it to the border. After gathering more intel on what lay ahead, he crosses without incident.
When a plan comes together, it is desirable to move ahead quickly, especially if there is a lot to gain. But it is always prudent to gather intelligence on where you are headed. It never hurts, but will definitely pay off if found correctly.
This is a short chapter. Lars gets a CB setup and Ian does recon on the town of Wickenburg to see the evil dealings of the La Fuerza. I think most in preparedness underestimate the need for communication when it all goes south. This definitely needs to be an area of focus.
A little flash back to the past and a link to Patriots is a pleasant surprise in this chapter. Ian remembers his college days meeting Dan and Todd. Dan and Ian do some fabrication work on a WW2 vintage Sten Mk II and an Ingram M10 SMG.
Andy sees some action in Marathon, Texas. One of the take-aways is Andy’s patience after dealing with the bad guys. There is a reason for the saying, “It’s always better to be safe than sorry.”
Andy arrives at the Blanco Trading Post and indulges in some of those things that we take for granted…like electricity and a bath.
After a few hours he arrives in Bloomfield and heads to church since it is Sunday. There, Andy gets to surprise some special people.
Five months after arriving back in New Mexico, Andy and his new bride make a significant vehicle purchase. Andy also believes that tires will eventually become a huge barter item. He also retrofits the vehicle with a traditional ignition system and carb.
Sheila Randall has some issues with the new government’s currency! Fortunately, old coinage is still accepted because new coinage would be too difficult to setup. Also, the new Hutchings government bans all gold and silver bars at 10 ounces or larger. As a result, the public gets wise and makes rings out of the large bars. I guess it is important to think outside the box even in TEOTWAWKI.
The chapter gives us a little insight to the U.S. troops that were stationed in Afghanistan when the Crunch began. It is something that makes you think, even about traveling within the country. How far are you willing to travel away from home and your loved ones?
We also see the plans of La Fuerza start to develop.
Mr. Martin sends a runner out to ask Lars for a chit chat. They discuss La Fuerza’s approach to an nearby town and how they can help fight against them. Mr. Martin makes Lars an offer he can’t refuse.
Lars assembles a team and starts to train. A worker at the plant also makes an interesting solution that will result in some fireworks. One thing that many don’t consider is the importance of experts and training. There are many who just haven’t had the opportunity of military training. Also, having some training or expertise in making chemicals, etc. will always be helpful….even if it isn’t for defensive or weapon purposes.
An extensive and elaborate plan is laid out to deal with La Fuerza. Two teams go out to two different towns to deal with La Fuerza’s wide assortment of vehicles. As with every plan, some things don’t go as planned.
After inflicting some damage on La Fuerza, the troops retreat back to their respective towns. Ian gets some bad news and Lars makes some purchases with his payment for leading his team.
Ignacio and La Fuerza are fit to be tied! After some assessment, they head out for revenge. The take-away is that you have to be on your toes at all points, especially after a victory.
Ian and Blanca bug-out. They make some hops to finally end up at the Gray’s.