Geographic flexibility is useful for recreational and professional needs as well as disaster preparedness. Practice makes perfect. Hit the road. Sell everything, buy Sacagawea dollars and bury them in the desert. Learn to improvise. Reduce physical profile to a minimum. You can sleep in a hammock in a university, park, or deep in the forest. Spend most of your time in university getting an education or working in a profession. Sleep in the trees on or near campus. Weekends and holidays gather mushrooms in the forest. Especially study medicine, exercise, and nutrition because you will need that if SHTF or no SHTF
This is a very popular book, possibly because it serves marketing or political needs of the rich 1%. The author is a historian, not an engineer but he did get a phd from a top engineering university. May not be too unrealistic. There are many possible scenarios for a such a catastrophe, and lesser catastrophes.
5,164 customer reviews
One Second After
Mass Market Paperback – April 26, 2011
WILLIAM R. FORSTCHEN has a Ph.D. from Purdue University with specializations in Military History and the History of Technology. He is a Faculty Fellow and Professor of History at Montreat College. He is the author of over forty books, including the New York Times bestselling series Gettysburg and Pearl Harbor (coauthored with Newt Gingrich), as well as the award-winning young adult novel We Look Like Men of War. He has also authored numerous short stories and articles about military history and military technology. His interests include archaeological research on sites in Mongolia, and as a pilot he owns and flies an original World War II “recon bird.” Dr. Forstchen resides near Asheville, North Carolina with his teenage daughter Meghan and their small pack of golden retreivers and yellow labs.
In this entertaining apocalyptic thriller from Forstchen (We Look Like Men of War), a high-altitude nuclear bomb of uncertain origin explodes, unleashing a deadly electromagnetic pulse that instantly disables almost every electrical device in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. Airplanes, most cars, cellphones, refrigerators—all are fried as the country plunges into literal and metaphoric darkness. History professor John Matherson, who lives with his two daughters in a small North Carolina town, soon figures out what has happened. Aided by local officials, Matherson begins to deal with such long-term effects of the disaster as starvation, disease and roving gangs of barbarians. While the material sometimes threatens to veer into jingoism, and heartstrings are tugged a little too vigorously, fans of such classics as Alas, Babylon and On the Beachwill have a good time as Forstchen tackles the obvious and some not-so-obvious questions the apocalypse tends to raise. Newt Gingrich provides a foreword.
In a Norman Rockwell town in North Carolina, where residents rarely lock homes, retired army colonel John Matherson teaches college, raises two daughters, and grieves the loss of his wife to cancer. When phones die and cars inexplicably stall, Grandma’s pre-computerized Edsel takes readers to a stunning scene on the car-littered interstate, on which 500 stranded strangers, some with guns, awaken John’s New Jersey street-smart instincts to get the family home and load the shotgun. Next morning, some townspeople realize that an electromagnetic pulse weapon has destroyed America’s power grid, and they proceed to set survival priorities. John’s list includes insulin for his type-one diabetic 12-year-old, candy bars, and sacks of ice. Deaths start with heart attacks and eventually escalate alarmingly. Food becomes scarce, and societal breakdown proceeds with inevitable violence; towns burn, and ex-servicemen recall “Korea in ’51” as military action by unlikely people becomes the norm in Forstchen’s sad, riveting cautionary tale, the premise of which Newt Gingrich’s foreword says is completely possible.
Forstchen examines the effect of an attack on the U.S.A. using an EMP (or rather three EMPs). The electro magnetic pulse ruins most electrical gadgets; computers and anything controlled by them, data storage, modern vehicles and planes, electricity generators,water supply, medical equipment, phones and radios.
The small town in which the story is set reverts to a barter economy and its shops soon run out of food and medicines. Local law enforcement has to cope with increasingly desperate local citizens,stranded motorists, and refugees from the big cities hoping to find food and shelter.
Forstchen examines the big issues mainly by looking at the impact on one family. This approach works well, and the reader is drawn in, wondering “what would I do in that situation?”
The reason I gave this book 4 stars rather than 5 may sound trivial. Every single “could have, should have, would have, might have” in the book is written as “could of, should of” etc.After reading several dozen of these I almost ended up shouting at the book. I guess I’m getting old.
I have read serial killer books, grisly murder books, but this was hands down the scariest book I have ever read. A book that caused me to lose sleep and kept me thinking long after I was finished reading.
The book follows what happens to an American community after and EMP attack is visited on our country. EMP occurs when a nuclear bomb is detonated above the atmosphere, causing every single thing in it’s range containing anything electronic to fail.
Cars, planes, pacemakers, electricity, you name it, it’s gone forever.
The country is immediately plunged into the dark ages, the population far too large to be supported by 18th century technology.
Different parts of the country fare better or worse depending on their locations to urban areas.
Gangs roam the land, bringing death and destruction to any remaining survivors.
What is frightening about this book is the fact that it is a very real possibility.
The government is currently studying EMP attacks, as it is probably a more real threat than the thermonuclear attack we have always been raised to fear.
If you ever had a thought of having your home prepared for a disaster, you will be propelled into action after reading the horrors entailed here for anyone who does not.
The day after reading I could not help but realize how fully dependent we are on electronics and technology.
I found myself cataloging each thing I did during the day.
How long can you last with the food in your pantry and maybe a week’s worth of water before it becomes contaminated and cholera, dysentery, and thyphoid break out?
You may not have ever imagined America as a third-world country. This book will force you to.
By the way, if you have a project due or deadline, finish it before you pick this book up.
It sucks you right in and you are compelled to finish it instead of doing anything else. I really came to love and care about the characters. It was hard to “watch” as the worst befell them.
I live in Black Mountain, NC, and am a personal friend of Dr. Forstchen, so I read this latest book of his with considerable interest. I would highly recommend it.
The EMP event he describes might presently be improbable, but is certainly possible. Nicholas Taleb would undoubtedly recognize it as a “Black Swan” event: something that lies outside the range of normal experience, but that has a catastrophic impact. Taleb pointed out that humans have a tendency to excessively discount and underestimate Black Swans, so I would encourage readers to be careful not to dismiss Forstchen’s book just because the scenario he paints is improbable. Furthermore, an EMP attack is hardly the only thing that might result in the substantial or total collapse of the economy and civilization; there are a range of possible scenarios, and the practical effect of living through them and their aftermath might not differ all that much from what Forstchen describes.
Some might be tempted to feel depressed after reading “One Second After”, or to consider Forstchen’s outlook to be excessively pessimistic. On the contrary, I consider his to actually be a rather optimistic view. Importantly, his story line assumes that the townspeople DO come together and cooperate with each other; the town government does hold together, and the town leaders do lead. The town does not devolve into “every person for themselves” anarchy, as so many other post-apocalyptic visions presume. It is also optimistic in that the townspeople do actually win in a horrific battle against a nightmarish roving gang. It is optimistic in that the protagonist and the other characters do succeed in the struggle to maintain their humanity and deepest held values.
So, read the book. But then what? Don’t just set it down and forget about it. If it doesn’t spur you to action, then you’ve wasted your time. The fact of the matter is, there ARE things that each of us could and should be doing in all of our communities right now to prepare ourselves and our communities from a whole range of vulnerabilities.
Some people are going to be tempted to rush out and stock up on non-perishable foodstuffs. Fine, but remember that those will eventually run out. What you and your community really need is to build up your local food production capacity; that is where you will find true food security. Plant fruit trees, and transform your yard into a vegetable garden. If you rent and don’t have garden space, then participate in a community garden; if there is none in your community, then start one. Patronize local farmers through local farmer’s markets and CSAs. Learn to can and dehydrate food, store what you grow and eat what you store — think in terms of a whole system, operated on a long-term basis. Consider how you are going to cook food when the electricity and natural gas and propane and coleman fuel all run out; there are alternatives, including wood stoves and solar ovens.
Consider your water supply, and have a backup. Bottles of water are fine for a couple of months, but nobody can store enough water to last a lifetime. Consider having some sort of filtration system in case one must rely on surface water, and some sort of cart and barrels to haul it.
Consider how you are going to keep warm in the wintertime. Now is the time to weatherstrip and insulate. Consider getting a woodstove and laying up a few cords of wood – and having the axes, saws, and carts to cut down and haul more wood when your supply runs out. Consider installing some solar space heating panels if you have a good southern exposure.
Consider how you are going to keep well and healthy. In Forstchen’s novel, many people die of disease and what are presently treatable medical conditions. Get yourself a good first aid book, maybe take some Red Cross first aid classes, and set yourself with a good set of first aid supplies. While some herbal remedy claims must be taken with a grain of salt, there are some that do work; learn the difference, and be prepared to grow or gather whatever is useful for health and healing.
Maintaining communications can be useful. In Forstchen’s novel, all electronics are fried, and the town is left with no working communications. I do wish that Forstchen had mentioned that it is possible to protect sensitive electronic devices with a Faraday Cage. Put a portable radio in a cardboard box, put that inside a bigger box, wrap the package completely with aluminum foil (every square inch, no exceptions), attach a ground wire (secure metal-to-metal contact), and attach the ground wire to a ground (a cold water pipe is not ideal, but will do). He mentioned one person in a distant town having a working shortwave receiver; if several of the townspeople in his novel had the forsight to store portable radios with shortwave bands (along with some way to recharge the batteries, either by crank power or solar panel), they would have been able to get important outside news much sooner. Even more importantly, if several people had hidden away a few pairs of FRS/GMRS 2-way radios in faraday cages, then the town government, police, and militia would have had valuable 2-way communications. Do yourself and your community a favor and consider doing this; after an EMP attack is too late.
This is not a complete list; Amazon.com has a number of books with more extensive recommendations for disaster preparedness. Take this opportunity to take advantage of the time you have before something unexpected, but maybe inevitable, happens.
I purchased this book because I have been flogging the Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack scenario to friends and relatives since early 2008, when it became apparent to me that the U.S. had lost the will to halt nuclear proliferation among terror-sponsoring states. I reasoned that a stateless actor or an apocalyptic regime might calculate that an EMP attack would actually create more casualties and more economic damage than a direct strike on any one city. An EMP attack also has the advantage of being the equivalent of hitting the broad side of a barn. Just get the nuke up a couple hundred klicks and go “boom,” rather than trust your missile’s guidance to hit an urban center from offshore or (alternatively) risk detection of a smuggled warhead. Lastly, the straightforward atomic bomb designs a nascent nuclear state is likely to deploy don’t make as big a crater as a sophisticated “hydrogen” (fusion) bomb does, but they’re already very effective at creating EMP.
Given the above, one would imagine I’d be among the vanguard in extolling this novel. For reasons great and small though, I was ultimately disappointed. In my opinion the story’s biggest flaw is its implicit assumption that EMP would render irrevocably inoperable any integrated-circuit based device — i.e., anything more advanced than wires, coils, and vacuum tubes — and by extension anything that depended upon such devices (your modern automobile, for example). My readings so far of the findings of the ongoing EMP Commission (in particular April 2008, see empcommission.org) suggest that this is a gross exaggeration.
True, while the near-certain collapse of the electrical grid would immediately harm the transportation infrastructure (imagine no subways, no commuter rail, no street or traffic lights), the vast majority of automobiles would still be mobile.
Similarly, while the cellular phone and land-line telephone systems will be severely crippled (at onset) or entirely nonfunctional (after 72 hours) due to their ultimate dependence on the electrical grid and sophisticated switching technologies, there is little reason to believe that battery-operated two-way radios and (especially) simple AM and shortwave receivers would be harmed at all.
The author’s belief that only antique autos would run and only tube radios will turn on following EMP is key to creating the conditions of immobilization and isolation on which the rest of his story arc depends.
And when I couldn’t buy into the author’s core assumptions, the plot lost much of its punch.
From that point onward, the book’s other shortcomings became more grating. Some old-school editing, say from my bespectacled junior-year English teacher, would have helped a great deal. Mrs. K would certainly have caught the “horde” used mistakenly instead of “hoard”, the “striped” for stripped, the “breech” which was supposed to be a breach and the “than” / “that” typos which mangle a sentence. Adverbs in dialogue were recycled to the point of distraction. There’s only so many times a character can respond “sharply” to another in a single conversation before the reader wants to attack the book with a sharply instrument.
It would be a terrible shame if this book’s vision convinced readers that an actual EMP attack would be unavoidably catastrophic, and survivable only by a select few who empty their bank accounts and utterly abandon their former lifestyles in preparation. I sincerely believe that this is not the case, and that the most-likely EMP attack scenarios can be survived by nearly everyone who can plan for three months without the grocery store, ATM, and utility services. Yes it takes some forethought and a little planning, but think of it as a life insurance policy for your entire family that actually pays off when you wind up living instead of the other way around.
I would’ve loved an EMP disaster novel to be a smash hit that would later become the movie that would galvanize an irresistible push for robust missile defense and an uncompromising policy of nonproliferation.
I desperately want a concerted government program to harden the protections on high-value electrical infrastructure and build increased EMP resistance into our evolving telecommunications system.
Maybe these things will still happen, but I don’t see this book being the trigger for them.
Am currently reading “One Second After”( William Forstchen; 2009). Probably the best prepper book I have ever read if one does not mind a modern day journey into “Dante’s Inferno.”
Cancer is becoming a leading cause of death, overtaking heart disease. Lions and wolves are exceedingly rare. Criminals are also rare if you avoid Ferguson and other ghettos. Almost all RVs, autos, and houses cause cancer – chemicals, plywood, fossil fuels, etc. An organic tent will not cause cancer, collapse in earthquake, trap you indoors in a fire, etc. Much safer than a house or RV.
My ancestors lived 90,000 years in Northern Scandinavia, Asia, and America in tents. They could deal with the lions and wolves with bow and arrow and fire. I have a 357 magnum that would be easier, at least for me. I have never heard of any lion or bear attacks in the campgrounds around here. Once somebody spotted a bobcat. There would not be such a deer infestation if there were large carnivores about.
I would probably sleep in the back of the Ford Explorer and use the tent when I am awake for computer, math, writing, reading the paper, etc. I still exercise many hours per day.
I notice that South Dakota Wyoming zero income tax states are highly rated as a business location as well as a retirement residence and the lowest population density.
You can get South Dakota residency by sleeping there 1 night per year. Has been a popular home for billionaires and banks for decades, especially credit card operations.
Become a homeless, stateless person with freedom to travel to where you need to go.
On Oct 17, 2015, at 9:04 PM, John wrote:
Bears rip into tent and attack you, same with mountain lions, cougars and wolves. Bears are in lots of areas including yours. Thugs and theives cut into your tent while you sleep and kill you for your smart car. You need hard sided enclosure for protection. RVs solve most problems. Lock up your stuff while out hiking, etc.
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