Category Archives: Book Review

Book Review: The End by G. Michael Hopf

EMP Animation Photo Credit: Heritage.org

Bang! Right out of the gate I was caught up in The End. Who would not be interested when contemplating what it would be like to have the United States completelty altered and have to rebuild after the government was severed at the head? It was a book that had me riveted and almost wanting to skip ahead to see what was going to happen. The ability of G. Michael Hopf to weave the many characters and experiences into one fluid story line was incredible in my opinion.

The story of Gordan Van Zandt and his family was not only interesting, but informational as well. The reader gets to experience a little bit about Sergeant Van Zandt, the Marine, and then go on to see how his experiences effect his family life and ultimately how it impacts his struggle to survive and support his family in the face of a catastrophic attack on the United States and their allies. Not only does life become a mad dash to secure the resources available for survival but the reader gets to witness the clashes and dilemmas that occur as civility goes by the wayside. There are many hard decisions to be made and the entire range of human emotion is explored as we see people ignorant to the fact that their phones will no longer work and why, anxiety as the realization of what happened sets in, sadness as Gordon realizes the innocence of his children, panic as patients die in the hospital ICU because of the lack of power and chaos as looters grab everything they can out of the grocery store. I found myself, once again, thinking about what I would do if society ground to a halt.
I have read some criticism about Hopf and his writing but I do not share these opinions. I took the book for what it was and found that it was an enjoyable story which explored a very scary possibility, one that we could find ourselves facing as a nation. Especially a nation that is not always appreciated for who we are and what we do.
As I read The End and the characters and their stories were revealed, I began to appreciate many things about this book including the fact that it was written from a position of authority and experience. As a fellow combat veteran, I realized that Hopf is probably sharing a little bit of his experience in combat as he wrote this book. I kept thinking back to my experiences and was almost haunted by the reality of the military and combat scenarios that were woven into The End. It is also apparent that there was a fair amount of research completed about Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) and nuclear weapons completed as I felt that the story was quite factual regarding what could be expected following such an attack.
I truly cannot recommend this book enough if you are interested in the postapocalyptic genre, survival, preparedness, or even just contemplating what society would be like after such an attack.
If you are interested in reading about Gordon Van Zandt and his associates, the two books available in The New World Series can be purchased from Amazon and can be located by clicking on the following links:
Young Gordon Van Zandt valued duty and loyalty to country above all, so after 9/11, he dropped out of college and joined the Marine Corps. This idealism vanished one fateful day in a war-torn city in Iraq. Ten years later, he is still struggling with the ghosts of his past when a new reality is thrust upon him and his family: North America, Europe and the Far East have all suffered a devastating Super-EMP attack, which causes catastrophic damage to the nation’s power grid and essential infrastructures. Everything from cell phones to cars to computers cease to function, putting society at a standstill.
With civilization in chaos, Gordon must fight for the limited and fast dwindling resources. He knows survival requires action and cooperation with his neighbors, but as the days wear on, so does all sense of civility within his community—and so he must make some of the most difficult decisions of his life in order to ensure his family’s safety.
The End was just the beginning of the new world…Only six weeks have passed since a super-EMP attack devastated the United States, but already, life has changed dramatically. Most of America has become a wasteland filled with starving bands of people, mobs and gangs. Millions are dead and millions more are suffering, with no end in sight.
For Gordon, Samantha, Sebastian, Cruz and Barone, the turmoil and chaos they dealt with in the early weeks after the attack will seem trivial in comparison to the collapse of society that plays out before their eyes. Uncertainty abounds as they all travel different paths in search of a safe place to call home. The only thing that is definite is that The Long Road will take its toll on all of them.
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
If you would be interested in reading these books for free, I have great news! G. Michael Hopf has agreed as part of his TLC book tour stop here at The Prepared Ninja to giveaway a set of these two books to a lucky reader. Entering could not be any easier, just sign up to receive our email updates in the right sidebar and you are entered to win. If you already subscribe, you are already entered! On January 22, 2014 a lucky subscriber will be selected as the winner using a random number generator. Thanks to Mr. Hopf and TLC Book Tours for this great opportunity. Good luck!
About The Author

G. Michael Hopf is a combat veteran of the Marine Corps, a former bodyguard for the Saudi Royal family, entrepreneur, and best-selling author.

He has studied the threat of EMP for 6 years and how to best prepare in the event. He wrote The End  and The Long Road (Books 1 & 2 in The New World series)to illustrate the effects our nation would suffer if ever attacked by this type of weapon.

He and his family currently reside in San Diego, CA.

If you would be interested in learning more about G. Michael Hopf, please visit his website at GMichaelHopf.com. He can also be followed on Facebook or on Twitter.

Going Home by A. American – Book Review

Books written about disasters and surviving the chaos that ensues are a tough genre to write and if not written well, can be even harder to read. Going Home by A. American is not a book that I had to struggle through. I loved it! I will admit that it was a bit slow in the beginning but once I got through the first chapter, I could not set the book down! I have not had to endure a major disaster that altered my life completely, but I found myself constantly thinking that the trials and experiences that Morgan Carter endures in Going Home are about as accurate as possible for a fictional work. Each wrinkle and tribulation that is woven into the storyline caused me to put myself in the same position, wondering what it would be like and questioning myself about whether or not I would do the same thing.
If you have ever wondered how society as a whole, and people as individuals, would react to a lawless environment or a situation where the infrastructure collapsed, Going Home will provide you great insight into this aspect of human behavior. This novel includes, what I believe are, some honest reactions to situations that have and will occur again in societies across the globe and expose the realities of disaster situations and emphasize the need to be prepared. During a disaster, chaos will ensue and those who were once friends and neighbors will turn on one another to ensure their family and their own needs for survival are met. This is a point that is driven home as Morgan Carter treks over 250 miles through unkown situations in an effort to get home to his family after he experiences what seems to be an EMP. The story further builds as it becomes evident that the cause of the disaster may be the American government itself.
If I were forced to criticize one thing about this book it would be the fact that, like many prepper/post-apocolyptic themed novels, Going Home includes what most readers would view as overkill when it comes to the details of some of the supplies in Morgan’s get home bag as well as how he completes some of the tasks that he performs. This is a two-edged sword in the fact that there is an educational aspect to this book and leaving the detail out would somewhat defeat this purpose while including the finite information can be a bit tedious to the reader at times. I personally have encountered this before in similar novels like Patriots by James Wesley, Rawles and have been able to deal with it without any permanent damage being caused to me or those around me.
It is very exciting that my adventure does not have to end with Going Home, as it was only the first installment of what is at least a three part series(I am not sure if there are more part(s) in the works). I cannot wait to read the second installment, Surviving Home, and then see what happens in the third part of the series, Escaping Home. If you are interested in reading about Morgan Carter’s adventures for yourself I have great news! First of all, the entire three book series can be purchased from Amazon and can be located by clicking on the following links:
Going HomeIf society collapsed, could you survive?When Morgan Carter’s car breaks down 250 miles from his home, he figures his weekend plans are ruined. But things are about to get much, much worse: the country’s power grid has collapsed. There is no electricity, no running water, no Internet, and no way to know when normalcy will be restored—if it ever will be. An avid survivalist, Morgan takes to the road with his prepper pack on his back.During the grueling trek from Tallahassee to his home in Lake County, chaos threatens his every step but Morgan is hell-bent on getting home to his wife and daughters—and he’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Surviving-Home-199x300

Surviving HomeNo electricity. No running water. No food. No end in sight. If life as you knew it changed in an instant, would you be prepared?In A. American’s first novel, Going Home, readers were introduced to Morgan Carter, the resourceful, tough-as-nails survivalist who embarks on a treacherous 250-mile journey across Florida following the collapse of the nation’s power grid. Now reunited with his loving wife and daughters in this follow-up to Going Home, Morgan knows that their happiness is fleeting, as the worst is yet to come. Though for years Morgan has been diligently preparing for emergency situations, many of his neighbors are completely unready for life in this strange new world—and they’re starting to get restless.With the help of his closest companions, Morgan fights to keeps his home secure—only to discover shocking information about the state of the nation in the process.
Escaping HomeWhen society ceases to exist, who can you trust?After the collapse of the nation’s power grid, America is under martial law—and safety is an illusion. As violence erupts around him, Morgan Carter faces one of his most difficult decisions yet: whether to stay and defend his home, or move to a more isolated area, away from the prying eyes of the government. He and his family are hesitant to leave their beloved Lake County, but with increasingly suspicious activities happening in a nearby refugee camp, all signs point towards defecting. Morgan and his friends aren’t going to leave without a fight, though—and they’ll do anything to protect their freedoms.From the author of the hit survivalist novels Going Home and Surviving Home, Escaping Home describes the struggle to live in a world with no rules, and how, sometimes, the strength of family is the only thing that can pull you through.

Lastly, A. American as part of his TLC Book Tours stop here at The Prepared Ninja has agreed to give away a complete set of all three books to a lucky reader! To enter all you have to do is leave a comment in the comments section below and one lucky winner will be chosen on December 29, 2013 using a random number generator. Make sure that you do not leave an anonymous comment, as there will be no email address visible to me to contact you at! Good luck!

About The Author

A. American has been involved in prepping and survival communities since the early 1990’s. An avid outdoorsman, he has a spent considerable time learning edible and medicinal plants and their uses as well as primitive survival skills. He currently resides in North Carolina on the edge of the Pisgah National Forest with his wife of more than twenty years and his three daughters.

Book Review: Staying Home by Alex Smith

Alex Smith has a new book out titled, Staying Home: Protecting Your Home After Disaster Strikes. I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of Staying Home to read and I immediately knew it was a great companion guide to his previous release, Getting Home: Making It Back To Your Family After Disaster Strikes.

It is important to note that this book is written with the novice to moderate skill leveled prepper in mind. If your interpretation of your survival skills is the equivalent of a hybrid Jason Bourne, Chuck Norris, Jack Bauer, and Rambo…this book may not be for you. However, I feel confident that almost anyone could benefit from reading Staying Home.

There are some key points to be considered when making the decision to “bug in” during a disaster and Alex does a great job of covering these points. Staying Home reviews:

  • Selecting A Location – General Considerations
  • Selecting A Location – Property Characteristics
  • Sustainability
  • Hardening A Property
  • Hardening A Home
  • Home Preparations
  • Skills For Hard Times
  • Community
  • Surviving A Disaster

It is not just these key points that create value for the reader of Staying Home. Some important reminders that Alex includes; the fact that making your home a “hard” target will make it less likely to be bothered with in comparison to “softer” targets as well as the fact that the tools are not enough, you must be trained to properly use them, add even more value to this great read.

There is entirely too much information that is included in the book to outline here but it is abundantly clear to me that Alex Smith has hit another home run. Staying Home has something for everyone and at the Kindle price of $3.99 and print price of $12.99 it is worth every penny.

Buy it here before it is too late to benefit from the information!

Book Review – Getting Home by Alex Smith

Getting HomeIf disaster strikes, will you be home? Will you be at work, school, or at the store? Is it possible that you or someone you care for will face the daunting task of trying to get home during the most perilous times possible? How would you get home and what would you take with you?

The new book Getting Home by Alex Smith is a great guide for the person seeking to learn more about traveling after a disaster/during times of chaos or someone trying to refresh their knowledge. It is not marketed as a guide for the experienced prepper, but I would go so far as saying that there might be some longtime prepper’s that have a solid grasp in many areas but could benefit from this book. While Getting Home is not only straightforward and easy to read, it is 136 pages of preparedness knowledge about:

  1. Every-Day Carry (EDC)The items on you…all day, every day.
  2. the Purse/Man-Purse/Daypack (DP)The next step after your EDC items.
  3. In Your OfficeItems to keep on hand in the workplace.
  4. In Your VehicleGear to keep in the car to assist in getting home.
  5. the Get Home Bag (GHB)A bag full of goodies to help you stay alive when it all goes south!
  6. CachesExtend your capabilities by stashing additional supplies along your route.
  7. Getting HomeTips and tricks for different environments and situations.

This collection of preparedness knowledge cannot possibly be summarized into the seven categories above though. There are numerous pieces of information spread throughout the pages of Coming Home that not only demonstrate the knowledge and equipment necessary to get home alive and safe, but also will assist the reader in achieving peak performance for survival. A sample of Alex’s writing in Coming Home is below:

The following excerpt is from Getting Home by Alex Smith,

Chapter 6:  the Get Home Bag (GHB)

* Selecting a GHB *

Much like your DP, your GHB should stand out as little as possible, but let’s face it – you are going to stand out with a ruck on your back.  However, try to minimize your visibility as much as possible by:

  • Avoid tactical bags (MOLLE, military surplus, etc.).
  • Avoid camouflage patterns.
  • No military/survival/firearms patches on your GHB.

Instead, opt for a pack that a hiker might wear.  Select from quality, brand-name bags with earth tones.  Remember it must be relatively comfortable when loaded, and you must be capable of carrying the load.

Before you choose your GHB, consider the following:

  • How long will it take you to get home?  How many miles are you from home?  How many miles can you hike (because you will basically be hiking with a pack) in a day?  Remember, walking is not hiking; hiking (walking with a loaded pack) works different muscles and will exhaust you much quicker.  Your physical condition will dictate how far you can hike; some may be able to only hike 5 miles, while others might be able to hike 30.  Terrain will affect your progress as well.  Divide your miles/day into the total distance from home and you will know approximately how long it may take you to get home.  The following is a very rough guideline with regards to pack capacity (Note – CI = Cubic Inches / L = Liters):
    • Trip Length = < 2 Days:  Pack Capacity = < 3,000 CI (50 L)
    • Trip Length = 3 Days:  Pack Capacity = < 3,600 CI (60 L)
    • Trip Length = 4 – 5 Days:  Pack Capacity = < 4,900 CI (80 L)
    • Trip Length = > 5 Days:  Pack Capacity = > 4,900 CI (80 L)
  • Will you pack light or pack heavy?  Does your physical condition and preferred level of preparedness require you carry a lot or very little?  What use is a large pack if you are unable to carry more than what a small pack can carry?  Opt for the smaller pack and save several pounds in pack weight.
  • What is your body type?  By body type, we mean torso height, since that is what the GHB will interface with.  Measure your torso and determine what pack size will be most comfortable for you (requires help):
    • Locate your C7 vertebra (the bony protrusion at the top of your back when you lean your head forward).
    • Locate your iliac crest (the pelvic “shelf”):  Have your friend run their hands down your side until they feel your hip bone.
    •  Have them place their hands on top of the hip bone with thumbs pointing inward.
    • Measure from C7 to the point that your friend’s thumbs “point” to.

Now that you know your torso length, the following are some guidelines for your body type:

  • Torso Length < 15.5”:  Extra Small Pack
  • Torso Length 16” – 17.5”:  Small Pack
  • Torso Length 18” – 19.5”:  Medium Pack
  • Torso Length > 19.5”:  Large Pack
  • Gender?  Take a long look in the mirror and determine what gender you are.  Many brands offer packs that are designed specifically to fit the contours of the female body.
  • Climate:  The colder your climate, the larger the pack you will need.  Cold weather sleeping gear and clothing take up much more space.

Now that you have an idea of what to look for in pack size, let’s examine several options you have to improve fit and make the pack more comfortable:

  • Load-lifter Straps:  Found at the top of the shoulder straps, load-lifter straps prevent the pack from pulling away from your body, disrupting your balance.  When pulled snug, they should form a 45 degree angle with your shoulder straps and the pack itself.  The heavier your load, the more important load-lifter straps are.
  • Sternum Straps:  The strap across your chest.  Improves stability and balance.
  • Hip Belt:  The strap across your hips.  Improves stability and balance.
  • Pack Frames:  Internal (usually lacks ventilation), External (often heavier) and Perimeter (a hybrid that strives to combine the benefits of internal and external) Frames are all designed to direct pack weight towards your hips – one of the body’s largest bone structures supported by some of the body’s largest muscle groups (the upper legs).  Hikers and adventurers have debated which frame system is superior, but there is no clear winner.  Choose based on what “feels” better to you.  The heavier your pack, the more important it is to have a frame.
  • Pockets/Panels/Compartments/Attachment Points:  To easily access your gear, you will need a pack with a variety of storage compartments and attachment options.  Imagine choosing an old military-style duffel bag as your GHB and needing a pair of socks located in the bottom.  You will have to remove everything from your GHB to get those socks.
  • Ventilation:  Very important in hot humid climates, especially if an internal-frame pack is chosen.  In such a scenario, your GHB needs a ventilation system to prevent your back from getting drenched in sweat.
  • Hydration:  Most packs allow you the option of inserting a reservoir (such as a Camelbak).  Water is very heavy, but if you live in an arid climate with little access to surface water, you may be forced to carry much of the water you will need for your trip.
  • Padding:  Padding is important, especially if your pack is heavy.  Ensure the padding on your hip belt and lumbar pad is sufficient for your needs.
  • Durability:  Your pack could be the most important component of your GHB; buy a quality pack from a respected brand.  Be careful if you decide to purchase an ultralight pack.  Ultralight packs utilize lighter materials that are often not as durable.  Some brands to consider include:  Osprey, the North Face, Black Diamond, Kelty and Gregory.

Now that you have an idea of what to look for in a pack, let’s transform that pack into a GHB.

Armed with this introduction, would you consider the basic knowledge to get back home safely after a disaster worth $1.00? I would! Alex let me know that the current price of $0.99 will be good for the rest of the week and then next week the price will likely go up to $5! If e-readers or technology are not your preferred reading method, Alex also let me know that a paperback should be released within a few days. I would emphatically recommend this book to anyone that believes that it is possible that there will be any natural or other disasters in the future of the world.

Don’t let a dollar stand between you and the safety you will find at home…get your copy of Getting Home (making it back to your family after disaster strikes) now!

Principles of Personal Defense

I have been familiar with one of the war hero’s of our nation, Colonel Jeff Cooper for a number of years now. He is renowned in the firearms community for establishing the Gunsite Training Institute where he provided training on rifle and shotgun as well as pistol training in Cooper’s modern technique which is identified in part by the use of two hands to shoot accompanied by the use of the weaver stance. In addition to a proud military history and phenomenal training academy, Jeff Cooper had a writing career that extended across seven decades of his life. While he wrote for several magazines and newsletters throughout his life, Cooper also wrote many books, one of which is titled, Principles of Personal Defense which serves as an awesome primer on situational awareness and dealing with the reality of having to defend oneself in the face of attack.

What I find particularly great about Principles of Personal Defense is that it is written from the perspective that attackers should not be allowed to dictate the circumstances in which we live. Colonel Cooper mentions in his introduction that only a small percentage of people are sociopaths that will commit crimes and go on to mention that,

Violent crime is feasible only if its victims are cowards. A victim who fights back makes the whole business impractical. It is true that a victim who fights back may suffer for it, but one who does not almost certainly will suffer for it. And, suffer or not, the one who fights back retains his dignity and his self-respect. Any study of the atrocity list of recent years-Starkweather, Speck,Manson, Richard Hickok and Cary Smith, et al-shows immediately that the victims, by their appalling ineptitude and timidity, virtually assisted in their own murders. (“Don’t make them mad, Martha, so they won’t hurt us.”)

Obviously the list of criminals from “recent years” is not so recent as this quote is taken from the first edition written in 1989 but the principle is a sound one. The idea of personal defense in this booklet is not limited to one particular setting but encompasses crimes at home and on the street which provokes additional thought as well. Cooper goes on to outline the seven principles of personal defense which are:

  1. Alertness – Know what is going on around you. This is covered with two basic rules. The first is know what is behind you and the second is pay particular attention to anything out of place.
  2. Decisiveness – When faced with a life threatening situation you must make the appropriate decision on how to react immediately.
  3. Aggressiveness - “The best personal defense is an explosive counterattack.” Being on the defense doesn’t allow one to be on the offense but a violent defense can completely stop an offensive attack.
  4. Speed – “The perfect defense is a counterattack that succeeds before the assailant discovers that he has bitten off more than he can chew.” Speed is key to surviving an attack by an assailant.
  5. Coolness – Keep your cool. Failure to keep it together can result in an inability to mount an effective defense.
  6. Ruthlessness – “Anyone who willfully and maliciously attacks another without sufficient cause deserves no consideration.” Operate within the confines of the law but offer no relief to the enemy. Given a chance to remove the threat, do so.
  7. Surprise – Do what your attacker does not expect you to do. By catching the attacker off guard, you can gain the advantage.
This booklet is not a long read at all and I would encourage everyone to read it. Even if you do not have an interest in firearms, the book can teach the reader a great amount about situational awareness and dealing with an attacker or the potential of facing an attack.

In addition to the previously mentioned works, COL Cooper is deeply engrained in many other principles of firearms training which include the four rules of firearm safety and firearm carry conditions. If you have ever heard of the scout rifle concept before then you have heard of another one of the works that COL Cooper is well-known for refining.

What do you think is the most important principle of personal defense? Leave your remarks in the comments section.

Do you have a personal defense story that you would be willing to share? If so, please fill out the contact form on The Prepared Ninja homepage and let us know about it.

Disclaimer – Consult all local laws and regulations regarding use of force and personal defense. The author of this blog post is not an attorney or not otherwise qualified to offer legal advise or counsel on any subject. The information provided here is strictly for the purpose of provoking thought on the subject matter.