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I am always looking to learn skills that can improve many facets of my life. A chief aspect of prepping I believe is to continually learn and increase your ability to survive. This education can come in many forms from training courses, real-life exposure, videos, lectures and books. For me though I don’t learn from books as well as I do with hands on exposure to the core aspects I am trying to learn. The more complicated the subject, the less likely I am going to learn from a book and at a certain point no matter how compelling the subject matter, if the book is too detailed I usually don’t finish.

I am sure this challenge hampers me from mastering a lot of concepts, but I can’t help how I was born so I try to learn in different ways to prevent my learning-handicap from getting in the way of acquiring skills or knowledge that could be crucial someday. Sometimes I find a source that seems to be a perfect fit for my learning style and 100 Deadly Skills by Clint Emerson fits the bill nicely.

Clint Emerson is a retired Navy SEAL who spent twenty years conducting special ops all over the world while attached to SEAL Teams (including the elite SEAL Team SIX) and the National Security Agency (NSA). Clint was able to use an array of practical skills he developed to protect himself while at home and abroad, he created Violent Nomad—a personal, non-kinetic capture/kill program cataloging the skills necessary to defend against any predator or crisis and his recent book 100 Deadly Skills puts much of that knowledge he obtained and created into the hands of everyday people like you and me.

Going back to my learning style, 100 Deadly Skills isn’t a technical manual. It isn’t a college level white paper on the various subjects Clint is discussing although I firmly believe that any Navy Seal receives so much more education and instruction than could ever be contained in 20 books. I am no Navy Seal though and 100 Deadly Skills is set up to share concepts in a compelling way that while not replacing professional training, still give the average person tons of useful information that could help you if you are confronted with many survival situations.

100 Deadly Skills that you never knew you needed

100 Deadly Skills takes the standpoint of a “Violent Nomad” who is characterized in the book as an operator working overseas under heavy cover. The book proceeds to share tactics that an operator could use in all aspects of what I would assume someone in that line of work would need to plan for.

100 Deadly Skills - Great information for people who want to make sure they can survive any dangerous situation.
100 Deadly Skills – Great information for people who want to make sure they can survive any dangerous situation.
  • Mission Prep
  • Infiltration
  • Infrastructure Development
  • Surveillance
  • Access
  • Collection
  • Operational Actions
  • Sanitization
  • Exfiltration and Escape

Now you may be saying to yourself, “Why would I ever need to know what a Navy Seal operator working overseas in hostile environments would need to know?” and I admit that this book definitely has a target audience of people who find this type of skills or tactics fascinating. This book is not for Navy Seals or secret agents as I said before, it is for regular people and it easily shares information that even a regular Joe could use to protect their life.

Each skill or BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) as Clint calls them is no more than a page or two and comes with excellent quality illustrations showing the finer points of each of the 100 deadly skills he tries to teach you. I found almost the entire book to be extremely interesting and I came away with a lot of new ideas that I could catalog in the back of my noggin for use potentially. I know I am never going to be working clandestine in the Middle East, but I can easily see the benefit of these skills in a SHTF event. Even if the world as we know it doesn’t end, there is still crime; there are still bad people and bad situations that you might face. A little knowledge sure helps and if these topics interest you, I am sure you will enjoy Clint’s 100 Deadly Skills.


I am always looking to learn skills that can improve many facets of my life. A chief aspect of prepping I believe is to continually learn and increase your ability

I have seen the advertisements for Rick Austin’s book, Secret Garden of Survival on a lot of blogs in the prepping community, but had not really considered it much. There wasn’t any reason that I passed it by, but I guess something didn’t trigger me to find out more about this book until last week when I stumbled on a glowing review from another source. Now, my curiosity was peaked so I went out to Amazon to check out the book further.

The premise of this book is that it will teach you how to grow a camouflaged food forest and this really caught my attention for several reasons. The first was the basic concept of having food growing in your yard that doesn’t look like a garden. One of the thoughts I and obviously Rick has had is that having a garden of nice pretty rows is an invitation to theft. I don’t have a tall fence around my property; neither do many of my neighbors. It is really easy to see who has a garden in their backyard and this could be a prime target by unscrupulous or simply starving people in a grid-down situation. To have your food somehow less obvious would be a natural advantage.

The second reason I was interested in this book are the concepts that Rick uses of a food forest and how to take advantage of nature. By using Permaculture concepts, he discusses how you can grow your food in guilds. Each guild has various layers each complimenting and benefiting the other layers. His approach uses foods planted not in rows, but probably more like how you would find them growing in the wild. This was a great idea in my opinion. I am sure that has something to do with the frustration experienced in our garden this year with weeds.

Lastly, the food forest concept mentioned in the book Secret Garden of Survival isn’t so dependent upon watering and changing all of your plants every season. This is Permaculture and your plants aren’t annuals. By planting fruits, berry producing shrubs and ground cover, you only have to worry about them the first year. One of the issues I have with gardening at least this year is how much work is wasted. Every year we have to plant, mulch, weed, fertilize, weed, water, weed and then pull it all up and do it over again. Since I have refused to use any weed killer in my yard since about 3 years ago, the battle with weeds seems more frustrating I guess but lately I have been thinking about why we fight this battle of the weeds. Surely, nature has a reason for weeds and my weekly waste of time continues to be futile. There has to be a better way.

On to the book review…

The Secret Garden of Survival is 112 pages and there is at least one photo on just about every page. Richard covers wide array of topics from how to prepare your land for planting a food forest to Permaculture guilds, grey water systems, rain water collection, planting, pest control and harvesting. There isn’t any one subject that is covered to the point of too many details and this book was a quick read. I think it took me a couple of hours to blast through it.

What I liked

I really like the concept of a food forest. I think this is simply brilliant and maybe it says something about my laziness, but if I could have the years, time and money I had invested in our current and past gardens I would completely redo everything like Rick mentions in this book. I think the concept makes perfect sense and it boggles the mind when I think of so much wasted time I have put myself and my family though with the traditional approach. Having food that comes back year after year seems to be a perfect model for anyone who wants to be prepared and this book has given me a ton of new ideas for our yard.

Now, does that mean you shouldn’t have a garden? No, quite the contrary; having a garden is such an important item to cross off your list, but if you have the time (2 years ideally), patience and land to start a food forest, that is what I would do. Would I get rid of my garden entirely? No, but I would scale it back a little and let the food forest do most of the heavy lifting.

What I didn’t like

I’ll just be honest and say that I don’t think this book was worth the cost I paid. I paid $29 on amazon and was pretty surprised that the book was as thin as it is. Some people paid even more. It’s my fault I know for not reading the details, but I just assumed it would be more like a manual. As it is, this is a great introduction to the concepts I mentioned above, but there are so many other things he could have put in this book. There were plenty of photos, but it was very short on the details of actually planning your guilds and displaying charts and graphs. Also, there were quite a few typos and the images weren’t high quality. Some were so dark it was difficult to make out what the author was trying to highlight.

If you are looking for a really good introduction to the concept of a food forest with photos from someone who has actually done it, this book may be for you. If you are looking for a resource book that you will refer back to time and time again because it is such a wealth of information, I might suggest a different book. I’ll admit that this was probably all because of the price. If this book was maybe closer to $6 I wouldn’t have felt as much disappointment, but I do think I was expecting more “how to” information and this book, while showing me something new I hadn’t considered, left me wanting more. Now I will be looking for a new resource that goes over the topics that Rick spurred my interest in. I’ll let you know if I find something better.

I have seen the advertisements for Rick Austin’s book, Secret Garden of Survival on a lot of blogs in the prepping community, but had not really considered it much. There

Far too long ago I was given a copy of the book  “More food from small spaces” by Margaret Clark to review. Her book has been staring at me for well over a month even though I have been reading it off and on I kept delaying the review. Finally I was able to sit down and put my thoughts to word document on this very interesting and valuable resource for anyone trying to start a garden or preppers who are looking for additional resources and ideas for their existing plots.

The premise of Margaret’s book is a concept she came up with for growing food if you are limited in the space you have to use. Most of us feel that if we don’t have 20 acres of plowed fields we won’t be able to feed our family and that isn’t necessarily true. Having less room like most suburbanites and definitely city dwellers shouldn’t mean that you can’t grow a large variety of healthy food in abundance. Margaret was faced with a similar problem of limited space after a remodel of her home and used the methods she describes in her book to full advantage. The end result was “More food from small spaces”.

Before I get into the actual review, I want to briefly describe why this concept is appealing and pertinent to a wide variety of people. If you are prepping, chances are you want to be prepared for any one of a number of events that can disrupt your lives. Outside of the fear of bodily injury, food is probably the next biggest concern. Having your own supply of food you can grow and eat pays you back in several ways. First, it makes you less reliant on grocery stores and the fluctuations of any market prices or availability. Disruptions in the food supply would be less severe if you were growing your own. Secondly, growing your own food is healthier and if you don’t believe me just wait until you have eaten the first tomato you grew in your own yard. The flavors and nutrition of vegetables you grow yourself will blow away anything shipped from other countries in containers.

Margaret has created an excellent resource guide that gives anyone looking for tips and ideas on how to grow more food smarter. Less is more in her book and she does a great job of explaining with plenty of examples and photographs of how its done.

Denser, Deeper, Higher, Longer

Without giving away all of the details, Margaret’s concept is called the Center Square Plan. Using this plan you increase the available square footage you can grow in. This gives you more productive land per square foot and makes maintaining your garden easier at the same time. One of my biggest gripes about gardening are the weeds. In her concept, weeds don’t have any room to grow. By placing your growing areas closely together and growing up instead of out you can increase yield and reduce the amount of maintenance you have to spend pulling weeds.

By using simple plans for a PVC greenhouse anyone can build she increases the length of time she can grow vegetables too. All of her plans are clearly documented in her book. There are very descriptive photos and you can see some of the benefits of her system in this movie below.

You can watch several other movies on her YouTube channel as well.

In addition to laying out the garden area, building the greenhouse and managing all of the finer points of growing in small spaces, Margaret offers a lot of additional information that you need in addition to growing food. She covers how to make your soil more fertile and gives an excellent recipe and instructions for making your own EM Bokashi to break down your compost much faster by using Microorganisms. She covers seed saving and gets into other normal garden issues like discouraging common pests, harvesting rainwater. She also covers what you need to know when your garden starts bursting forth with all of your delicious bounty. How to can, freeze and dehydrate food is covered in a very easy to follow way again with simple instructions and documented with a lot of photos.

I was really surprised at the level of detail in this book and it fits perfectly with the type of information I am looking for. It is not an encyclopedia of knowledge but this is an excellent guide that not only gives you a detailed overview of her method but has tons of useful information for storing and living off of your garden. That should be something that anyone can use.

You can purchase More food from small spaces on Amazon an if you are looking for ways to make your garden more productive or just starting from scratch, this book will give you a great plan for getting there and would make a good resource that you can learn from over and over.

Far too long ago I was given a copy of the book  “More food from small spaces” by Margaret Clark to review. Her book has been staring at me for

Morgan Carter made it back home to his family in Florida after the collapse in Going Home, the first book in this four part series called “the Survivalist Series” and we now get to see how this story finally ends. Forsaking Home is the last novel I believe in a really great story about Morgan Carter, his family, friends and a few military operators in a post-collapse world. We reviewed the first book in the series, Going Home in December and when I was offered another chance to review the latest in the series I was naturally interested.

Forsaking Home – A Novel

Forsaking Home like all the other novels in this series falls squarely into a category I call Prepper fiction. Prepper fiction usually has a few key components; a disaster, a hero and someone they care for, a bad guy and a lot of discussion around how the hero navigates life after the disaster. Prepper fiction for me is incredibly interesting because it provides a narrative around events that I think are possible and highlights how the author envisions certain scenarios playing out. Naturally, I as a blogger who writes about all things Prepping get to distill the author’s story through my own filter and take elements out that make sense, discount items that I feel aren’t realistic and more or less get to watch someone war-game potential disasters under the guise of a good read.

The key element that I think everything else hangs off of is always some form of catastrophe that precipitates a collapse of society. You have to have a big event to put people in these dire circumstances and set up the conflict that our hero has to deal with. In this series, the catastrophe was an EMP. The EMP that disables Morgan’s car is never fully explained although it is alluded that this may not have been something that caught our government completely off guard. Cue the ominous music.

Forsaking Home brings us back to Morgan and his group at the cabins by the river. We learned at the end of the previous book that Morgan and Thad’s traveling buddy Jess who joined them on the first book’s trek through Florida immediately after the collapse is now in a DHS Resettlement (FEMA) camp and Sarge and his buddies plan to change that scenario quickly.

A. American’s characters in these books are very believable and the story moves along nicely. There aren’t any unrealistic scenarios with gun-fights and ninja back-flip moves against overwhelming force. A. American seems to be very interested in sharing his experience in the form of tips and tricks that almost anyone can use if we are faced with a similar situation. There is a larger story that has plenty of action, but interspersed throughout the novels are mini how-tos on everything from making squirrel snares, cooking gators and frogs to fishing. While I love huge gun-fights, they are obviously sensational and Forsaking Home seems to give you just enough action while at the same time relaying information to the Prepper they can file away for later recall. Knowing how to set snares for example could save your life.

There is only one type of incident in the book that some might consider macho and I won’t give it away except to say that Morgan is faced with a threat that must be dealt with. In a society like they have in Forsaking Home, where there is no law enforcement, Morgan’s reaction is quick and violent. If I were in the same scenario, I would have done the same thing. Rather than make a larger spectacle than is needed, A. American deals with the subject quickly and without a lot of posing, preaching or drama and I think that is how it should be.

In conclusion, I enjoyed the entire series and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in Prepper Fiction. The story is wrapped up nicely at the end and for me, the whole read was very satisfying.

Morgan Carter made it back home to his family in Florida after the collapse in Going Home, the first book in this four part series called “the Survivalist Series” and

I love reading books about post-apocalyptic situations, seeing how the author envisions everything going down and how people in the story cope during times of trials. When I was new to Prepping, I read several books for different perspectives and imagined myself in the same scenarios as the protagonists. I was the humble leader who quietly assumed the responsibility for protecting my family against a wide array of obstacles, threats and challenges. It is fiction, but with a dose of reality because in most of these books we have history to fall back on for a lot of the nastier things humans can do when confronted with a crisis. I read about an Economic Collapse in James Wesley Rawles’ book, Patriots and how Todd and Mary and their survival group had prepared for events like this with a fully stocked retreat. I lived through an EMP attack and the threat of biker gangs in William Forstchen’s One Second After and traveled cross country with Bishop in Joe Nobody’s Holding Their Own. Each one of these books catered to my desire to learn more about hypothetical scenarios and checked the box in the action column that kept everything interesting.

So when I was given the opportunity to review Going Home: A Novel (The Survivalist Series) which just so happens to be right up in the same genre as some of those books that I really enjoyed, I was excited to see how another author treated the subject of an EMP attack that forces the author to walk back home to his family over 250 miles away. Most of the scenarios in all of the books I mentioned are similar in that there is some event that wipes out our nation from a standpoint of capacity not necessarily destruction. In the survivalist genre you usually have a collapse of our nation through something other than war or disease so that we are all stuck living through whatever the issue is, but there is no virus to blame or an invading country. The bad guys end up being your neighbors because we are largely unprepared to live without the conveniences we have become dependent on. When you take away power, our entire society crumbles pretty quickly or at least that is what everyone, including me believes will happen.

The premise of A. American’s Going Home, is an EMP event that wipes out the power nationwide. The book doesn’t go into a lot of detail about the how’s or why’s but you are led to believe the potential is that forces in our government are somehow involved. Morgan is our hero and you meet him as he is driving home from his job. When the EMP event happens, all the power is gone, electronics die and Morgan has to walk back home over 250 miles to his family. The setting is in Florida and since he is a prepper, Morgan has an insane Get Home Bag in his car. The book is Morgan’s journey back home and shows along the way how people are dealing with or struggling through the crisis.

What I liked

Was the character of Sarge modeled after this guy?

Like I said above I already like this genre, so the subject matter appealed to me because this is one of those things I think is very possible. If we do have an EMP attack and you are away from home, you have to get back there and you will face difficulty along the way. I wrote a post about this exact same subject a while back called “After an EMP Attack – How to Get Home When it’s 700 Miles Away” because just like Morgan in this book, I travel for work sometimes. If I was away from home, my first priority would be to get back to my family and I have envisioned some of the same situations that A. American (clever pseudonym by the way) writes about in this novel. He also has the beginnings of a back story that involves not so nice people in DHS and the whispers of a conspiracy. What is going on at the range?

The book has about three main characters through the majority of the story and I really like Thad and Sarge who I swear was modeled exactly off of R. Lee Ermey or at least every line he delivers in my head comes from this icon of military themed characters. There is a fourth character who begins the journey with Morgan and I think there will be a reappearance of her at some point.

What I didn’t like

I usually struggle with this section in reviews because I find it hard to critique someone for something I haven’t done but I guess we all do this every day. To tell an author that they have problems with their book is easy to do for someone who hasn’t written their own book (yet?) and hasn’t had to deal with the issues I am picking apart so I will try to be fair and honest.

Going Home: A Novel

One of the two things I can say kept coming back to me as I was reading this book are Morgan’s supplies. Morgan has done what every good prepper should do if they have a job that takes them away from home. Morgan has a Get Home Bag and pretty much anything you could imagine him needing is packed away in here. I think that he has more stuff than I normally take for camping but he doesn’t stop there. A couple of characters remark about how much he has, so I am sure the author is aware of the amount at some point, but I choose to accept that Morgan has a huge pack and he is a big muscular guy who can walk with a 60 pound pack over 250 miles with no issues after society has busted big time. Hey, I believe much more insane things all the time when I watch movies so why not?

The other aspect I missed was more of a back story. Going Home, is the first of at least three novels and I plan on reading the next two. He may get more into the details about Morgan’s history and the people behind the conspiracy in the next two which may negate this entirely, but I would have like to have a little more of Morgan’s back story. How did he get into Prepping and what motivated him to set his house up the way he did? This book was almost entirely about the journey with a lot of attention paid to routes and the normal tasks of eating and sleeping, hiding and route navigation. He does share a pretty fair amount of time talking about the specifics of his gear. I know you have to strike a balance and it almost feels like this was one huge story broken into three parts and even written all at once so maybe this will all play out as I go along.

The characters of Thad and Sarge have a lot of potential and the whole military conspiracy angle is ripe for content. Maybe that is forthcoming and I will find out shortly as I start the second book Surviving Home tonight. I did enjoy the book overall and am looking forward to what happens next with Morgan. If you like survival fiction, I think you will like Going Home from A American.

I love reading books about post-apocalyptic situations, seeing how the author envisions everything going down and how people in the story cope during times of trials. When I was new