Sunday, December 21, 2014

Book Review: The Prepper's Blueprint by Tess Pennington

I've been around the survivialism/prepping thing long enough that every time I see a book that purports to be, as the cover of this one puts it, "step-by-step guide to help you prepare for any disaster", my bullshit meter pretty much pegs.

The reason is simple.  Unless you are only preparing for that ready.gov "3 days until FEMA arrives to put everything back together for you" scenario, prepping is simply too broad a subject to cover in a single book.  Even something as relatively simple as drinking water can easily run a few hundred pages if you go all out with covering well digging/drilling, filtering systems, the various sorts of pumps, power systems and what have you.  It ain't all 8 drops of bleach per gallon of water (I don't give a damn what the EPA thinks).

So when I saw Tess Pennington's "The Prepper's Blueprint" favorably mentioned somewhere (and I honestly don't remember where) on the Intertubz, I figured that it would be yet more of the same.  However, since Amazon allows you to have a look inside the book (got to compete with the brick and mortar book stores), I was able to get a look at the table of contents and the introduction and was intrigued enough to drop $20 to have a copy shipped in.

It's an interesting take on the subject.  Pennington follows more or less the typical organization of most manuals--food, water, tools, medicals supplies and so on, but she has something that is in my experience unique.  She adds the concept of "layers".  So when she discusses food the first time in Layer 1, it's in a very basic way.  Two weeks of food and water, simple meals that don't require a lot of effort (including cooking) to prepare and so on.

Layer 2 broadens the topic by going into water filtration and food preservation, as well as expanding the food supply to a full month.  Layer 3 modifies the one month pantry into a pattern that can be used for storing multiple months of food.  In the course of doing so the discussion expands to cover essential fats, legumes, carbs and so on so that you have a basic understanding of what you need for a healthy diet over the long term.

This same model is used for medical needs, communications, tools, shelter and so on.  As I said earlier, it's a model that I haven't encountered before in the prepping world, and I think that, for someone who is just coming around to the necessity to be prepared, it should work well.  It allows the beginner to get some quick "wins" (face it, if they just do Layer 1 they're more prepared than 99% of Americans) and then continue on as they are mentally able and willing. It's a big scary step to go from "don't get it" to "eyes wide open", and all to easy to slip into "it can't be done".  Pennington's layered approach may be just the thing to get people past that hump.

Based on her own citations, Pennington appears to rely on others for much of her information in many areas.  In most areas, that serves her well, but in a couple, communications and defense, she could have picked better sources.  It isn't so much that the information is wrong as it is woefully inadequate.  She could have used some better advice in these two areas.  Fortunately, by the time the beginning prepper gets to the serious parts of these in Layer 3, it will be easy enough for them to do their own research and find their own trustworthy sources.

Overall, I'm going to say that this book is a keeper.  The inexperienced will find it a good initial guide to beginning preparedness--just remember that it is a beginner's manual and that you will need more in depth texts in each subject area (and to her credit, Pennington usually notes this).  Those who have made being prepared a part of their life will find a very different use for this book--it's great for loaning out to family, friends and acquaintances who, having finally realized that milk doesn't come from a grocery store, decide to take some responsibility for their own lives and want to begin prepping.  Rather than having to sit down and spend hours going over this and that, you can simply hand them this book.

Just be sure you get it back so you can loan it to the next person.

("The Prepper's Blueprint by Tess Pennington, 458 pages, ISBN-13 978-1496092588  For the information of whatever Federal nitwits might happen by, I bought this book with my own freaking money, OK?)

Doin' it old school

I'm not a big AK fan, but I do appreciate craftsmanship whereever it's found.  In this case it's Bosnia.