Sunday, May 22, 2011
Book Review: Dare to Prepare, 4th Edition (2011) by Holly Drennan Deyo.
The other day I received in my post office box, courtesy of Irregular Stan, a copy of Holly Drennan Deyo's massive Dare to Prepare!, a 632 page bible of practical preparation information for any disaster up-to-and-including The End of the World As We Know It. With copious illustrations, this work covers everything from the mundane of water treatment and food storage to preparing for pandemics, earthquakes, even meteor strikes. I have seen a lot of prepper manuals in my time, but I understand why Stan was so enthusiastic to send me a copy. Whatever other "survival manuals" you have on your bookshelf, this one will had something to your knowledge base of whatever subject you're interested in.
My short and sweet review: buy this book and read it now while you can still make best use of the voluminous information within. That said, I have a couple of criticisms of Mrs. Deyo's work that spring from my own thoughts on the subject of surviving societal dislocation resulting from disasters natural or man-made. Some are minor, others not so. Understand, though, that I offer them with the best of helpful intentions, perhaps with a view to the 5th Edition.
Let me preface my suggestions by stating flat out that I have not, in any sense, "read" this work in its entirety. I have deeply skimmed it (is that an oxymoron?) and used the comprehensive index to look for subjects that I have some knowledge of. As I say, I am impressed by the amount of knowledge within and the logic of the book's organization. Mrs. Deyo has reason to be proud of this book and I hope she sells a million of them. But here, as the result of my "deep skimming," are some problem areas that I recognize:
TA-1 sound-powered field telephone.
Under "Communications" (Chapter 33), there is (to me) a glaring omission of battery and sound-powered military field telephony, or the construction of improvised civilian equivalent telephones (such as those used by caver rescue organizations). For over a century during the long years beginning with the invention of the telephone and through the 1980s, the militaries of every country used field telephones to communicate most of their orders and reports, even after the invention of radio, especially in static defensive operations -- and what is survival in place but a static defensive operation? Wire communication is inherently more secure than wireless. Over the years my friends and I have collected dozens of TA-1, TA-43 and TA-312 field telephones, SB-993 and SB-22 manual switchboards and miles of field telephone wire and the reels and reel equipment used to deploy and recover it -- enough to wire a small town's defenses if necessary.
I have written on this subject before, but I would also be interested in a discussion, if current experienced telephone linemen can be found to brain storm the subject, of how the existing wire networks of land-line telephones could be used in an emergency with military or improvised civilian handsets and switchboards to overcome the communication difficulties imposed by an EMP event -- if that is possible at all.
Chapter 39, "Firearms," (pages 408-411) is far too short (a bare 4 pages out of 632, with one of those devoted entirely to the POLITICS of gun control!), incomplete and ill thought through. Mrs. Deyo, who admirably and honestly admits her lack of knowledge of the subject, relies on the input of three experts: Richard, "a knowledgeable friend in law enforcement"; Erik, "a professional law enforcement and full-time firearms instructor (and) 16-year veteran of active and reserve military"; and Ian, "a law enforcement officer in Western Australia with a total of 30 years credit (including) 6 years with Australian Special Forces."
First off, I can't help but think that the police backgrounds of these three fellows has both informed and limited their thinking on this subject. The only chapter sub-heading in these three pages is "Primer on Personal Security." The problem is that personal security FLOWS FROM community security and it is impossible to obtain one without the other. The threats in any disaster scenario you care to name in this country dictate that hard truth. No one family, or small group of families, will be able to deal with multitudinous gangs of roving predators that the break-down of law and order will most certainly occasion. Name any disaster in recent memory that hasn't been characterized by looting. Anybody? Anybody? Bueller? And those are situations where, if the cops (as in Katrina) either ran away, joined in the looting or confiscated firearms from the law abiding, at least the INSTITUTIONS of law enforcement were still in place and functioning. Not so in mega-breakdown. Then all rules, and all bets, are off. Doubtless these three policemen, as well intentioned as they are, fully expect THEIR institutions to continue functioning, so they are unable to see the essential thing -- that what community police functions remain in a serious disaster will either involve existing authorities (such as county sheriffs) being significantly augmented by citizen militia formations, or, if they fail, being completely supplanted by them.
So, I would appreciate a discussion of firearms as adjuncts to community safety as well as personal defense. And that, boys and girls, means a discussion of militia organization and community defense operations.
Much of the three page discussion that is in the book covers the usual arguments of caliber and weapon that gunnies get into -- eternally -- without greater result than expediture of hot air. And much of the discussion suffers from a lack of clear thinking on what firearms are used for -- hunting, personal defense and community defense.
For example, Richard says, "If I had to choose one all-around gun to have it would be the .22."
Let's get one thing straight: THERE IS NO "ONE ALL-AROUND" firearm. That's like saying that there is "one all-around tool" for building a house and making someone choose between a hammer and a power saw. Different firearms are used for different purposes. Period. You will need different tools to do different jobs, plus different training, organization, logistics, etc.
However, those concerns aside, I highly recommend this book as a resource.