Author Topic: Worst survivalist/prepper books?  (Read 60899 times)

Offline Sanveann

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Worst survivalist/prepper books?
« on: May 27, 2012, 03:11:45 PM »
OK, I hope I'm not stirring the pot too much for a newb, but I've read, frankly, a lot of pretty bad books in this genre. The thread on favorites made me wonder which ones you guys really hated.

For me: "Patriots." I'm sorry, I appreciate what Rawles was trying to do (mixing the information with the story), but it was just SO poorly executed. The dialogue was painful, and I think I finally quit reading about the time they mentioned the guy using dial-up to telecommute to work.

Also pretty bad: "Desperate Times." The story was actually pretty good, but the characters weren't fleshed out whatsoever, and the editing was ATROCIOUS. Just painful to read, with all the apostrophe abuse.

(Full disclosure: I'm a professional copy editor, so I tend to be very hard on books that are poorly edited. I've sometimes wondered about freelancing as an editor for self-published authors!)
« Last Edit: May 29, 2012, 07:51:03 PM by TexDaddy »

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Re: Worse survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2012, 04:09:23 PM »
Bug Out Vehicles and Shelters: Build and Outfit Your Life-Saving Escape
There is nothing in this book which isn't easily obtainable on the internet.
 

Offline soupbone

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Re: Worse survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2012, 04:22:29 PM »
OK, I hope I'm not stirring the pot too much for a newb, but I.....

It's (its?) called "fresh blood", (,"?) Sanveann - an infusion of which is good for the health of the forum on occasion. Be careful, though, some might consider it "fresh meat"......... Folks here are polite, for the most part, and if anyone crosses the line, just edit their posts.  :D

The worst survivalist books I have ever read was the Survivalist series by Jerry Arnheim (IIRC) The story line was illogical - the Russians successfully invaded the US and were imposing their rule in selected areas. The hero of the story was trying to make his way from the west coast to his BOL in the Blue Ridge; his wife and kids were attempting to do the same thing from the Northeast. The books chronicled their adventures. The dialogue was something else: "He drew his Metalifed .45 Colt Combat Commander equipped with....(Here follows three paragraphs of absolutely BORING technical specifications down to the amount of torque on the grip screws - or so it seemed)...and fired." (".?)

On the flip side, one of the best books I have ever read on the subject was Alas Babylon, a book from the late '50s or early '60s, during the height of the cold war. It describes the goings-on in a small Florida town when there is a complete collapse of society. It is very well written and it addresses several of the social wrongs in the America of the period. It is still relevant today, from the psychological standpoint.

Welcome to the forum, and I am looking forward to your posts.

soupbone

PS: I don't know where you are in your prepping, but nkawtg makes an excellent point. There is a lot of very qualified expertise here who are willing to share their knowledge - for free. Prepping is "in" now, and a lot of folks are out there trying to make a buck off of other's fears. While you are perusing the forum, don't forget to check out the "Around the Campfire" thread to see our other side.

soup

Offline Sanveann

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Re: Worse survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2012, 05:06:54 PM »
Holy cow, what an embarrassing place to make a typo! Should say "Worst" in the header there, not "worse" :) (Like I always tell my friends, I don't edit copy when I'm not on the clock, lol! Especially not my own, apparently ...)

Thanks for the warm welcome, soupbone :)

Offline The Professor

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Re: Worse survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2012, 12:05:04 AM »
Soooo. . .do you mean fiction survival books or "how-to" books?

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Offline Sanveann

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Re: Worse survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2012, 01:18:03 PM »
Soooo. . .do you mean fiction survival books or "how-to" books?

is

Oh, I suppose either :) My picks were just fiction because there are SO many bad TEOTWAWKI books out there!

endurance

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Re: Worse survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2012, 01:29:20 PM »
It's (its?) called "fresh blood",
It's  was correct.  Contraction of it is.  If you can say "it is" and it makes sense, it's it's.  If it's possessive the 's doesn't apply like it would with other words (ex. the mayor's car).   ;)

hobbs67

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Re: Worse survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2012, 02:29:19 PM »
Quote
Also pretty bad: "Desperate Times." The story was actually pretty good, but the characters weren't fleshed out whatsoever, and the editing was ATROCIOUS. Just painful to read, with all the apostrophe abuse

Pretty bad is an understatement for "Desperate Times" and "Desperate Times 2 -- Gun Control".  Terrible, terrible books.  It was like the author made an effort to make each of the characters as unlikeable as possible and the story unrealistic as could be possibly imagined before putting a big scoop of anti-gun moralizing on top.  It was Teotwawki as written by a 13 year old liberal emu kid. 

(Hint -- I really did not like Desperate Times)

Rawles is far from a great literary talent, but I did enjoy Patriots despite its flaws.  Survivors otoh was a waste of time and I would put that squarely in the worse/worster/worsterest camp.

Soup, I really Alas, Babylon too.   

 

Offline Sanveann

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Re: Worse survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2012, 06:52:14 PM »
An emu kid or an emo kid? ;) (Because, frankly, I would have been impressed by the book if an emu wrote it! That's about the only circumstance I would have been impressed by it, though, lol! I read a sample of the second one but saw it was just as poorly edited as the first, so I refused to pay for it; I did at least get the first one free.)


Offline Nadir_E

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Re: Worst survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2012, 08:30:04 PM »
There have been a few that had grammatical or spelling errors, but I tend to look past those (and wonder who the editor was) but as stories that just bothered me, I put "On the Beach" (yes, a Cold War classic) near the top of that list.  The defeatist attitude was just too much for me to tolerate.  I've read another from that era that was a precursor to Red Dawn (i.e. US invaded) and it was equally defeatist - makes me wonder what was in the water back then. ;)

-N

Offline ChrisFox

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Re: Worst survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2012, 10:08:13 PM »
Biggest problem I have with the ones I have read is all the protagonists are a bunch of Mary Sue's. Every thing they do seems to work out in the end. They are the moral good guys and anyone with tattoos and rides a bike is evil and there to rape their perfect wife/daughter. Where are the antiheroes or the really good villains. Mostly it's measly bureaucrat types or sociopaths hell bent on destroying the do gooders.

Offline Dawgus

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Re: Worst survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2012, 04:17:19 AM »
I've yet to find one "how to" book that I'm really happy with. All of them tend to cover the same basic things, and are very broad in the areas covered. I know it would be difficult to do, but none have been region specific. Personally, I would have no use for tropical or arctic survival techniques, which every book I've read seems to cover.

 I'm not much of a fiction reader. Actually, the first piece of fiction I've read in over 10 years was Patriots, and I absolutely hated it. IMO, it was so far out of reality that it was almost laughable at times. I'm not quite sure what I expected, but I was not impressed at all.

Offline Nadir_E

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Re: Worst survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2012, 12:23:35 PM »
Biggest problem I have with the ones I have read is all the protagonists are a bunch of Mary Sue's. Every thing they do seems to work out in the end. They are the moral good guys and anyone with tattoos and rides a bike is evil and there to rape their perfect wife/daughter. Where are the antiheroes or the really good villains. Mostly it's measly bureaucrat types or sociopaths hell bent on destroying the do gooders.

Agreed - I gave up on the Deep Winter series for this reason - EVERYTHING just falls into place for the main character and that struck me as entirely unrealistic.  I agree that the MZB/rapists seems to be part of the "formula" as well (Lights Out / 77 Days in September to name a couple).  I feel that "One Second After" is a bit better in this regard - lots of moral dilemmas and no white hats.

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Offline backwoods_engineer

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Re: Worst survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2012, 12:59:53 PM »
Some of the "worst":

- "Patriots".  Yeah, it has some good info, but the writing is terrible.  It's like reading the speeches in Ayn Rand: nobody talks like that.

- "Prepper's Road March": The Mormon jargon threw me off right away.  I found it to be unreadable.

- "Lucifer's Hammer": lots of absolute balderdash.  Seriously, a commune?  I like Niven and the Chaos Manor dude as much as the next guy, but there are 20 prepper/post-apoc books better than "Hammer."

- "Deep Winter / Shatter / Remnant / Distance": it pains me to add these books to this list.  But I must.  Things just "fall into place" too easily for Rick Drummund, the main character, and those around him.  Yes, I still love the story, but great prepper fiction it ain't.  "Lights Out," "77 Days in September," "Castigo Cay", and "Renewal" are WAY better.

Offline archer

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Re: Worst survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2012, 01:24:41 PM »
I hated "Patriots", did not even finish it and that is unusual for me.

hobbs67

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Re: Worse survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2012, 02:59:22 PM »
An emu kid or an emo kid? ;) (Because, frankly, I would have been impressed by the book if an emu wrote it! That's about the only circumstance I would have been impressed by it, though, lol! I read a sample of the second one but saw it was just as poorly edited as the first, so I refused to pay for it; I did at least get the first one free.)

Yes, I agree it would have been much better had it been written by 10,000 emus pecking away at 10,000 typewriters. ;D

Mental note, emu is the bird, emo is the way dramatic kid dressed in all black.


Quote
"Prepper's Road March": The Mormon jargon threw me off right away.  I found it to be unreadable.

How could I forget the Prepper's Road March books on a list of worst prepper books.  Its the gold standard for bad prepper fiction.  At one point their bug out convoy consists of a tractor, a front loader, a John Deere riding mower, atvs and a moped and they all are drunk driving them to the bug out location with some playing instruments on the way. 


Offline jpbearit

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Re: Worst survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2012, 03:36:20 PM »
My buddy and I have a long standing debate on "Dies the Fire" by S.M. Stirling.  While I love the book, he says it’s way too slow and the only characters worth reading about are goofy witches, so what’s the point. 

If you have that Fantasy kink it your head and you want to read an interesting retelling of the Arthurian legend from a modern prepper POV, you might like this book. 

WARNING: Stirling has what some of us call Tolkien’s disease.  He has been known to ramble more than a little bit on topics not essential to the progression of the storyline.  If this bothers you I recommend getting the audio book. Fast forward can save your experience.

@Sanveann
Don't worry overly much about being "fresh meat" here.  In my experience, even when one of us newbees stick our foot in our mouth, folks politely ignore your foibles or politely ask you if you need a bit of salt and prepper to make it easier to swallow.

Offline BadgerAngel

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Re: Worse survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2012, 03:44:05 PM »
Wait, no, seriously?  Drunk driving on -- oh, man.  See that just kind of makes me want to torture nyself just to read that scene, because that just sounds frickin' hilarious.

The only "prepper" book I've read is Lights Out.  I have a love-hate relationship with it. 



Yes, I agree it would have been much better had it been written by 10,000 emus pecking away at 10,000 typewriters. ;D

Mental note, emu is the bird, emo is the way dramatic kid dressed in all black.


How could I forget the Prepper's Road March books on a list of worst prepper books.  Its the gold standard for bad prepper fiction.  At one point their bug out convoy consists of a tractor, a front loader, a John Deere riding mower, atvs and a moped and they all are drunk driving them to the bug out location with some playing instruments on the way.

Offline Sanveann

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Re: Worst survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2012, 09:07:13 PM »
My buddy and I have a long standing debate on "Dies the Fire" by S.M. Stirling.  While I love the book, he says it’s way too slow and the only characters worth reading about are goofy witches, so what’s the point. 

I'm actually reading "Island in the Sea of Time" right now and loving it! But "Dies the Fire" didn't impress me in the sample I read, and from the reviews I saw, I thought the Wiccaness would get old for me.

Quote
@Sanveann
Don't worry overly much about being "fresh meat" here.  In my experience, even when one of us newbees stick our foot in our mouth, folks politely ignore your foibles or politely ask you if you need a bit of salt and prepper to make it easier to swallow.

I'll make sure it keep it close at hand ;)

Offline antiwraith

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Re: Worst survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #19 on: September 10, 2012, 07:55:03 PM »
I agree with some of the other posts, "Patriots" was awful!

However I highly recommend "Light's Out" as well as 299 Days!  Bothbare good reads!

Offline The Professor

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Re: Worst survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #20 on: September 10, 2012, 09:39:36 PM »
Anything by Don Paul?

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Offline Nadir_E

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Re: Worst survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #21 on: September 10, 2012, 10:32:10 PM »
I've encountered some bad prepper porn books, but the worst (so far) was Don Chase's "After the Storm."  Didn't make it through the first book in the series (on Kindle).  There was a lot that rubbed me the wrong way (i.e. illogical or nonsensical).  The straw that broke the camel's back, was when the author had an overweight, cigarette smoking protagonist out-run an Army patrol chasing him with a HMMWV.  Right.  We'll all become supermen when the balloon goes up.  I was actually reminded of the scene from Zombieland where we're introduced to Rule 1 - Cardio. :)

Save your pennies and steer clear of this one,
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endurance

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Re: Worst survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #22 on: September 11, 2012, 02:36:04 PM »
Anything by Don Paul?

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I won't bash the guy too bad.  There is some value to some of his writing and there have been times I've used some of the stuff I learned in Great Livin' in Grubby Times.  I can't remember what at the moment, but there have definitely been lessons I appreciated 15 or so years ago (whenever it first came out) and I was living a pretty grubby life... and enjoying it.  I think it was the very start of my recognition that survivalism didn't have to be about nuclear war, it would just be about finding tricks to make living a better life with no money.

I don't know anything about what he's written in the last five or so years.

Offline The Professor

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Re: Worst survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #23 on: September 11, 2012, 03:00:51 PM »
I was given four of his books a long time ago.  Most of what I read was, IMO, poorly thought-out and there was entirely too much self-aggrandizement.

From the cross-armed scowling image on the back with the statements to the "Russian Bear" to the creation of a hammer-head on the base of a knife (oh, that's copyrighted, of course. .. right along with a rubber guard on my field knife).

It seems to me he just likes the sound of his own voice (or the appearance of his own writing). . .something with which I'm somewhat familiar.

But then, it was for a different type of prepping.  Most of his stuff, IIRC, was written back in the 80's when we faced the spectre of a global nuclear war.  But even then, I didn't find much that was very useful. It seemed like he was forcing some things, grasping at straws to appear unique.

I just didn't find them as good prepper books.

The Professor




Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: Worst survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #24 on: September 11, 2012, 08:35:42 PM »
I won't bash the guy too bad.  There is some value to some of his writing and there have been times I've used some of the stuff I learned in Great Livin' in Grubby Times.  I can't remember what at the moment, but there have definitely been lessons I appreciated 15 or so years ago (whenever it first came out) and I was living a pretty grubby life... and enjoying it.  I think it was the very start of my recognition that survivalism didn't have to be about nuclear war, it would just be about finding tricks to make living a better life with no money.

I don't know anything about what he's written in the last five or so years.
I have a similar view of the man.  He was an early source of information for me as I was transitioning to survival mindedness.  Some of his books were fairly useful, some of his later ones were countless rehashes of the same themes.  He was ahead of his times, his work would have made great Kindle only pubs.

Patriots was junk, if it came out in todays prepper book market (admittedly in a genre he helped to create) it would hardly attract any notice.

I will give One Second After credit for being one of the best written and with the most mass market appeal.  Light Out and 299 days were also very good.

Offline NWPilgrim

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Re: Worst survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #25 on: September 21, 2012, 01:40:17 AM »
One of the worst is "2030" by Albert Brooks.  Fantastic plot themes of financial cliff and generational angst over the debt burden.  First half of the book is so promising.  But it has the absolutely worsterest (hahaha!) ending I have encountered. It's like he got tired of writing and just punted, the Chinese save the day and everyone lived happily ever after without describing how the two main themes were resolved or if they were resolved.  He just ignores the themes from the first half, and the second half becomes a lovefest over two brilliant Chinese businessmen.  At least it had good proof reading which was nice, but the ending sucked.

I actually liked Patriots a lot when I read it as an Internet novel (Grey Nineties? and some other pre-published title).  It was the rebirth of the survivalist genre and had a lot of thought to it.  Knowing that he actually has built his life similar to what he describes in the preps is thought provoking.  And it was decent writing compared to a lot of self-published survivalist "books." BUT, Rawles' second book "Survivors" was just stupid.  Shallow, everything works out perfectly vignettes, and really ignorant portrayal of Catholics.  There was nothing useful or interesting happening in that story.

There have been a few others I've read posted on other forums that were terrible stories and incredibly poor writing.  Do some people write just to try to piss off the English language? No, writing in the voice of ignorant "country folk", misspelling, using the wrong spelling repeatedly, and giving the bird to sentence structure is not cute. No it is not cute!  Hell no! Are their reely peeple whomsover dont no the defference between there and their, to and two and too, hear and here, know and no?!  From the wealth of poor writing I must surmise that if we escape the clutches of a financial collapse we surely will suffer a LANGUAGE COLLAPSE!

Offline devildog78

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Re: Worst survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #26 on: October 19, 2012, 10:18:28 AM »
Survivors has to be one of the worst books I have read in this genre. On the other hand some really good books are Lights Out, One Second After, 299 days, and Alas Babylon.

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Re: Worst survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #27 on: October 19, 2012, 11:03:15 AM »
For several years I was a non-fiction guy (history, howto, etc.) but for the past 18 months I've been reading a lot of fiction.

Here are my favorite (mostly prepper?) fiction books I've read in the last few months:

Feathers on the Wings of Love and Hate: Let the Gun Speak - John Grit
The Enemies Trilogy - Matthew Bracken
Weapon of Jihad - Karen D. Crumley, James G. Crumley
299 Days - Glen Tate
Castigo Cay - Matthew Bracken
The Gods of Color - Gunnar Sinclaire

By it's nature, prepping anticipates the future.  To me, that often makes reading non-fiction books about future predictions to be condescending and tedious.  I've found that fictional settings allow character development and conflict to develop that an instructional book wouldn't address.

Specifically consider Heavy G's wife in 299 days.  She had her "head in the sand", was in denial about the circumstances, etc.  That's a real issue for many folks.  Adding "get your spouse on board" to a task list found in a howto book, is a lot less helpful than reading a narrative of human interaction.

Offline Cooter Brown

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Re: Worse survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #28 on: October 19, 2012, 11:12:27 AM »
... convoy consists of a tractor, a front loader, a John Deere riding mower, atvs and a moped and they all are drunk driving them to the bug out location with some playing instruments on the way.

How on earth did I miss this one. Sounds like my college days!

Offline flippydidit

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Re: Worst survivalist/prepper books?
« Reply #29 on: October 19, 2012, 11:18:12 AM »
I personally have a Hate-Hate relationship with most of the fictional offerings in the "prepper" genre.  In order of my reading, I started with Patriots.  After this "standard" I moved on to Light's Out, and then One Second After.  These three pretty much tainted my view on other writings in the genre.  I'm very snobbish with my requirement for punctuation, spelling and grammar.  I figure if I'm giving you money, you can at least iron out the use of tools required to call it a BOOK.  After reading great reviews, I was suckered into the all time "worsteresterest" prepper book I've ever known (I've read more than those previous three, although none of them blew my skirt up).  The worst book, in my opinion is Avalon.  My red flag should have been the Amazon reviews (praising of course) that were written by friends and relatives of the author.  Avoid it like the plague.  It makes Patriots look like it could really happen.  Avalon takes place in California, however the writer must live in Candyland.  Good guys are SOOO good.  Bad guys are DUMB and SOOO predictable.  Everyone always has not just preps, but everything they could possibly want.  My children keep my attention with their stories much more aptly.  Probably because I know that their cognition of reality hasn't developed maturity yet.  I expect much better from a "published author".

That said, I try not to advise what not to read unless I also give some guidance to a better choice.  And although not really a "prepper" book, I would say that Unintended Consequences by John Ross is one of the best books I've ever read.  The author is actually qualified to write about his subject.  <shocked face>  GASP!  He isn't some "chairborne Ranger" sermonizing about things "he read somewhere".  The reader will probably learn a lot about American history, as well as firearms and the history of firearms.  All of this is done while reading a STORY (not a checklist) about characters that are believable and well developed.

Hope this helps Sanveann.