Book Review – Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs

Lately finished from my book pile is the recent book by Wendy Brown. “Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs.” The book isn’t so much about any SHTF event, she instead looks at what most of us (statistically) are likely to see in the next few years, summed up simply as a decrease in our standard of living.  While some people will definitely see SHTF events, a lot of Americans are just going to see a lessening of everything. For the third of all Americans who live in the suburbs, this will bring unique challenges.

The other thing I found interesting was she used the premise of 3 weeks warning (21 days) to choose 21 subjects to focus on.  In theory you could do one chapter a day and in 3 weeks you would be ready for anything. A more doable schedule might be one a week.

Day 1 starts out where I agree everyone should, Shelter.  Shelter can mean the difference between life and death, especially in the Northeast, where she lives, and in the northern Midwest where I live. Homes shield us from weather, as well as help us store food and tools.  Most of the suburbs also have the bonus of a surrounding plot of land.  Suburbs have that over city homes, more room to grow food, harvest wood, collect water and raise some meat.

Speaking of water, she goes there next, with fire right behind it. Since those are the top 3 on most people’s lists for Can’t-live-without, the placement makes sense.  If you only have a few days (or a few hours) to prepare for a SHTF, those are my 3 for where to focus your attention.  For water, she focuses on rain water catchment and larger scale holding arrangements. I can’t argue, but I think a well balance water plan should have some water stored that’s easy to carry if you have to bug out.   She has some awesome ideas for fire and heating.  Everything from using outdoor fire pits, existing fireplaces, and kitchen waste methane.  The one downside to this book is that she doesn’t go into great detail on any one idea. She gets through a lot of steps to prepping your home and life, but never irons out any of the details.  Not a bad thing, sometimes half the battle is convincing people that they aren’t going to die.

She takes 4 chapters to fully get through food, it’s a complicated subject, so I approve.  Everything from how to make it, store it and cook it, with or without aspects of our modern grid.

She touches on electricity, but not much.  If you’re looking for a book on how to keep the juice flowing to your gaming servers, (or pellet stoves :D ) this isn’t the book for you.  If you’re still confused about your best options for electricity, this chapter will give you a good idea of where to start though.

I was happy that she touched on waste management, but I was sad that she hadn’t thought of any great ways to handle it.  I can’t blame her, I can’t think of any graceful ways to handle humanure should the waster water treatment plants ever stop operating.  People out in the country can use outhouses, people with septic tanks can use those with some simple modifications, but those of us without the land for either of those options… tricky.  I think it would need to be some sort of community arrangement using some communal or public land.

It takes her until day 20 to get to guns and security.  Far down the list from where some of y’all would put it, and even then she praises dogs more than guns. She’s got a good argument, I would remind everyone though, you’ll need to feed said dog, so don’t go too big.

All in all, as I said, I liked the book.  If you or someone you love is living in the burbs, this book should be on your reading list. Lots of ideas for how to make the not-perfect-but-better-than-nothing situation of suburbs livable, be it slow collapse or SHTF bad.

 – Calamity Jane