In this alternate history / future dystopia, something like the 2009+ depression triggers massive inflation and the collapse of the economy and the government. Civilization quickly descends into chaos; people are shooting each other left and right. A select few fundamentalist Christian “preppers” are able to survive and eventually overthrow the wicked UN occupiers.
Well, I like future dystopia’s as much as the next guy, but there’s not much interesting about this one. The dialog is bad and the characters are pretty cookie-cutter (god-lovin’ true Murican boys an’ girls) and boring. Really this is not a novel so much as it is a love letter to guns and prepper fantasy. But mostly guns. Seriously, nearly every page throws in a reference to one or more firearms, by name and brand. I couldn’t help but think that the crisis depicted in the book wouldn’t have been so bad, if only there hadn’t been so many guns around.
Also, I really don’t see how the main characters (such as Messianic Jew “Bloody Ben”) reconcile their “strong” “Christian” faith with shooting people, even if they are *shudder* European socialists. They don’t show much charity otherwise, selfishly hoarding their own resources and scaring off refugees in need with threats and warning shots.
After winning back the nation, the new “founders” re-instate the hallowed Constitution, with some new additions: no more citizenship birthright (it must be inherited or bought), no more votes at 18, no welfare and foreign aid, an even stronger 2nd amendment (of course), no more income tax, a return to hard currency, and the sale of virtually all federal land. Sounds like a plan!
It’s interesting to look at the last chapter, which is set 178 years post-collapse. (Most of the rest of the “story” takes plus in the first four years.) Presumably this is the future represents the ideal Murica that Rawles and like-minded preppers can imagine: The US population has dropped to 50 million, clustered in the Pacific Northwest, Rockies, and Midwest. All of the Northeastern socialists have died of influenza and Californians have all joined gangs and killed themselves off, yes! (Not actually sure about the CA part. . . so deep is Rawles loathing for that godless state that I don’t think he mentioned it once.) Earth is up to World War IV against the Islamists in Africa. “Push them back across the Zambezi!”
Can any philosophy which advocates salvation through firepower, and celebrates a future World War IV (let alone III), even in passing fiction, really be worthwhile, let alone Christian? Here’s a prepping guide I find much more sane. After all, even Rawles gives Mormons good press: “Given the Mormon proclivity for food storage preparedness, they anticipated they would probably be more hospitable to travelers.” “…they are Mormons, and thus were relatively well prepared for the collapse.”
If anyone is following Rawles’ recipe for preparedness, I would advise them to think more about stocking up on food than on bullets, and have more faith in the goodness of their fellow man rather than in their guns. If not, then … you’re just scaring me, man!