Bracken: A Review Of “A Failure Of Civility”

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From Matt Bracken:

“A Failure of Civility”
A Book Review by Matt Bracken

First, let me apologize for the poor writing quality of this review. Normally, I write an essay and spend days and days polishing it. Not this time. I’m currently in between my “pretty” essays, but this review is just pure business, like a claw hammer you picked up at Home Depot to bang nails. Pretty has nothing to do with it, so let’s get on with the job.

Second, let me apologize to the other very kind authors who have sent me their books to review over the past months. I have read them all, most of them are worthy of their own reviews, and I hope to get to them when I can. 

A few months ago, I received a copy of the new book “A Failure of Civility,” by Mike Garand and Jack Lawson. It is subtitled “How to defend and protect you, your family, friends, neighborhood and America during a disaster or crisis.” Other than receiving this unsolicited book in the mail, a book I had never even heard of before that moment, I have no connection whatsoever to the authors or to the book.

“A Failure of Civility” grabbed my attention on the first page. It begins, “A few notes to our readers…. Consider reading this book as if the authors have parachuted into your backyard as special operations soldiers to assist you in forming a cooperative protection of your neighborhood. That’s one of the things that special ops soldiers are best at…covert insertion into isolated areas to train people in how to defend themselves against inequitable justice and malicious aggression. The authors’ combined life experiences, military and law enforcement, span 80 years. With this book, we give you the tools of knowledge to enable you to teach you and others how to defend yourselves, your family and neighbors. We want you to help save lives and to keep America strong.”

Wow, what a tall order! As a long-ago Navy frogman, I wondered if they could truly match that claim in their book. They do, and much more. I read the book cover to cover—twice!—in the first week. In fact, I am so impressed with it that I have been hauling it around for the last few months, trying to encourage my friends and relatives to buy it. It’s not cheap – it costs $30. Let me just say that I would trade a dozen loaded AR-15 magazines for it and think I had gotten the better of the deal. And after the lights go out, its value would only increase.

The book is big; it’s eight by eleven inches and 394 pages long. It’s printed in oversize 14 point font. Why? Because when you really need this book, you might be in a cold, dark place, huddled by a fire. They could have printed it in a smaller format and put it out at a lower price, but they decided not to. I completely understand why, and it makes total sense to me, having read it, and understanding the conditions it is intended for. 

Now, if you are a former special ops soldier yourself, some of the material in this book might be stuff you have already considered. But even in that case, when you will really need the knowledge contained in it the most, you might be shivering in the cold, malnourished, sick and stressed out, at a point when your brain will be firing on half its cylinders at best. And that’s exactly when the information inside this book will be of the most value to you and to your family. Not now, warm and on a full stomach, but later, just to assure yourself even while you are in a debilitated state that you have covered the bases and that you are making the best possible decisions for your family and for your neighbors. 

If you are not a former special ops soldier, then the value of this book simply cannot be stated in 2013 dollar terms. What is the value of your family’s life, of their very survival? Pretty damn high, right? Well, that’s the value of this book. A hypothetical example of its value and its utility came to my mind since I have college-age kids. In the hands of one smart and motivated ROTC cadet at a university, the information in this book would permit the cadets to turn their campus into a fortress that would be able to hold out against almost any foreseeable calamity.

This is not just another handbook on how to build a remote fortress on a mountaintop, beginning with a fantasy budget. It takes a completely different tack, namely, how to survive in place, where you are, on your current budget. How to “bug in,” not bug out. It postulates, and I agree with this, that no single family can survive alone, hidden in a remote fortress or bunker, no matter how large their pre-SHTF budget. It assumes that you will stay in your house and in your neighborhood. And it theorizes that no single house can be fortified to hold out against hordes of criminal bandits once the SHTF. You cannot get through TEOTWAWKI on your own.

That means that you must think in terms of defending your entire neighborhood, whether that neighborhood is in an urban, suburban or rural area. A remarkable thing about this book is that it begins planning the defense of your neighborhood even before the SHTF. You simply can’t wait until the lights go out to defend your area. The book lays out plans for cleverly laying the seeds for neighborhood defense in depth now, before the crisis strikes with full fury. 

I could spend thousands of more words summarizing the chapter contents of the book, but I won’t, for the sake of brevity. Please take me at my word that the contents are not another rehash of other “surviving TEOTWAWKI” books. It’s not just a collection of chapters like, “first aid” and “food storage.” It’s so far beyond that basic level that it’s hard for me to express without going on for pages and pages more. It’s full of thought-provoking material on critical subjects that you have never considered, please believe me on that.

Besides survival and defense information, the book also contains first-hand survival stories about life in a city during wartime with no power, major urban riots, and other grim topics, just to mentally prepare the reader for what to expect. A true “failure of civility” will potentially usher in a new Dark Age, when there is no law, and desperate, starving people will do literally anything to survive, including resorting to cannibalism in the extreme situations. The authors are not writing high literature, but a textbook for survival in the most horrible conditions imaginable, yet it’s always engaging and even engrossing.

At the beginning of this review I apologized for not spending days refining it to my usual standards, but I have already delayed too long in writing it. My goal here is not to impress you with my wordcraft. My goal is to encourage you to get your hands on this book while you can. 

I think every American family should have at least a few months of food on hand, so that they won’t have to go out foraging during the worst periods of TEOTWAWKI. I believe that every American family needs sufficient heating material to get them through at least one winter with no electricity and no fuel deliveries. I believe that every American family needs enough firearms and ammunition to hold desperate, starving criminals at bay. And I believe that every American prepper needs a copy of “A Failure of Civility” as a reference manual for survival during the most trying times ahead. Along with the Bible, I consider it the most important book that I am personally aware of for getting through the dark days that we may be about to experience. 

Every word I have written, in all of my novels and essays, has been meant as a warning to the reachable to get ready for the heavy weather that many of us see coming. Please, buy this book. It’s not cheap, it’s $30 and it’s not on Amazon. The authors are not book pros, they are just some guys with invaluable knowledge to share who are producing the book on their own. Get it now, while you can. I have zero connection to the authors, other than I believe the contents are important beyond measure. If there are other books as valuable as this one for surviving the coming storm, I haven’t seen them yet. I’m not saying they are not out there, but I have missed them so far.

My fondest hope is that in five years, the few people who remember me will laugh and say, “Matt Bracken, what a paranoid jerk he was.” A hack writer of cheap alarmist fiction, the author of a few quickly forgotten novels and essays. I hope and pray that in five years, America will be as strong, prosperous and free as it ever was. 

But if not, and if you find yourself at some point cold, hungry, sick and very, very afraid, hiding in a blacked-out basement while you are rereading your dog-eared copy of this book by lamplight, you will be thanking me over and over again for encouraging you to buy it. My cheap and unimportant works of fiction won’t matter a damn at that point, but you will be damn glad that you have a copy of “A Failure of Civility.” You, your family, and your entire neighborhood might pull through the coming storm just because of this one book. 

Sorry for dashing off this badly written review, but I have been putting it off for too long already, and time is one thing we are running out of, in my opinion. And sorry to the other authors who have sent their books; I hope to get to them soon. But this review can’t wait any longer. Please buy the book. And buy an extra copy or two to send to “reachable” family members. Tell them to wrap it in plastic, and save it for a time that we hope will never come. 

38 responses to “Bracken: A Review Of “A Failure Of Civility”

  1. “Poorly written review”? I think not…very well-written and very effective: I’m buying this book!

  2. I went to AFOC site and read the extensive exerpt pdf. This is mostly really-good. I will disagree with the authors that 1 gallon per day and 2000 calories is enough for people fighting or doing hard work. It’s enough for refugees who are just sitting around playing cards to pass the time.

    They do make the point several times about the necessity of having close access (1 mile maximum distance, but best inside defended zone) to water, even if you need to purify that source somehow. Urban people can DIY boreholes in the yard NOW as a solution, and use the water now for flushing. Multi-thousand gallon cisterns fed by catchment are not out of the question for someone with a .10 acre house site.

    Quality of food is really important, especially for pregnant women and children under 10. Non-pregnant women and adult men will recover from malnutrition when more-normal food quantities return, if they were in good condition before the Bad Situation. Maintaining Nutritional Adequacy During a Prolonged Crisis by Kearny (Nuclear War Survival Skills author) and Franz goes into obsessive detail.

    $30 well spent.

  3. Mr Bracken.
    Is there enough relevant material for a country town of 2000 1 hour out of the burbs?
    Thanks for EFAD. Brilliant book.

    • Yes, Joe, it will help to turn your town into a fortified community that the bad guys will steer a path around. Now, if it’s the entire government or a warlord army coming, that’s another matter. But if you are dealing with roving gangs of criminals, this book will explain how to make your town a place they will avoid, and if not, a place they will die attacking.

      • I owe them an apology then. I previously stated that I didn’t think it could be done, but I’ll buy the book and see for myself.
        Thanks for the reply.

        • I’m sure that some folks will find bones to pick in the book. For example, they don’t “write off” urban buildings like I do. They have plans to defend almost any type of building or terrain.

  4. Reblogged this on Cold Dead Hands Days and commented:
    The most important book you can own for the coming storm!!

  5. I was introduced to this book during the WRSA forum, after reading the authors comments I went to their site and ordered the book. I pretty much devoured the thing during the following weekend that I received it. Tons of information. I am re-reading it now making notes, and will keep reading the material until I have it committed to memory.

    And I agree with Mr. Bracken’s statement, this is second only to the Bible. I am planning on buying more copies to give as presents. Do yourself a favor and buy the book, it may be the most important $30.00 you spend.

    I will be reblogging this at fighting for liberty.

  6. Reblogged this on Fighting For Liberty and commented:
    Folks, I have this book and it is second only to the Bible. Get a copy, it is loaded with valuable information. You can order it here

  7. Even if one has serious plans and preps in place to “bug out”, the initiating event could happen at any moment, before there’s any chance to “bug out” (power grid down, highways and roads clogged…).

    So, a “bug in” plan seems prudent…

    Sure glad I’m rural…not so happy that several large cities are only 40-60 miles away.

    Matt has convinced me to buy the book, though what I’m really afraid of is the likelihood that conditions may become such that the living may envy the dead…

    What knid of life is it to be offing hungry invaders trying to swipe my tomatoes and taters every day?

  8. Matt, this is NOT a “badly-written review”. Brevity has a spice all its own,as you know. You’ve given your readers precisely what they need to decide on their own. And my decision is to check out and eventually buy this book. Thank you for the insight and input, as always!

  9. I read Bracken’s review this morning (2.25.13) and immediately ordered the book. Less than two hours later I received an email stating that my order had shipped. To say that I am impressed would be an understatement.

  10. “My fondest hope is that in five years, the few people who remember me will laugh and say, “Matt Bracken, what a paranoid jerk he was.” A hack writer of cheap alarmist fiction, the author of a few quickly forgotten novels and essays. I hope and pray that in five years, America will be as strong, prosperous and free as it ever was.”

    Sorry, I believe with all my heart that this will not come to pass. America must go through a time of extreme testing, and the name Matthew Bracken will continue to be lifted in prayer by patriots, giving thanks for your God-given insight and clarion-clear warnings, and the gift of time to get ready.

    — one of your half-decade fans

  11. As a civilian ‘dad’ I found the book very informative, sobering, actionable and comprehensive. It’s a practical, executable call to action. They have obviously thought this through (based on real-world experiences) and then effectively put pen to paper. I have never “seen the elephant” but sadly may ‘soon’ find the elephant at our door under very tragic circumstances. This book is a remarkably readable layman’s guide to survive, sustain and ‘win’ during a failure of civility.

    Unlike Matt, I have only been through the book once, but it’s already highlighted and dogeared. I plan to remove the pages from the binding, drill them, and construct a sectioned three-ring binder. This will be a working document and tool.

    To me the book is most valuable because it is *practically* instructive and motivating. I can turn this into a project plan and make the right progress. Now.

    I read this not as a veteran, but rather as a civilian dad living in a typical middle-class Atlanta commuting suburb. The houses in our neighborhood are brick-front, stick-frame, multi-story, “five/four and a door” structures … with lousy ballistics resistance and quite burnable. We happen to live in an large planned community of rolling hills, fully-surrounding three 50+ acre, stream-fed freshwater lakes. We are 2.5 miles from Interstate 85, 22 miles from ‘urban’ Atlanta, and .5 miles off a main secondary road. In short, we are an accessible, attractive target to the Horde. Because of the prior conditions, our Plan A has long been to bug out to our place in the NC mountains. This book applies quite well for our plan A, as we WILL need a NPP even for that location on the edge of the Nantahala forest. (Frankly you need a NPP wherever you stop, even en route.) *BUT* if we get caught here, circumstances change, whatever, and we need or ought to bug-in here, we need a good plan. This is it.

    My greatest concern for success with an NPP is that our neighborhood is culturally and politically diverse, and I have real doubts about our ability to gain and sustain adequate OPSEC and secure the perimeter due to others not sharing ‘our’ perspective and definition of “outsiders” … and the threat there from.

    Secondly, how do ‘we’ realistically plan to deal with starving, pathetic refugees under the age of 6? Forsten deals with this in “One Second After.” Not sure our neighbors would join ‘us’ in similar actions and postures.

    NET: buy it. Read it repeatedly. Turn it into practice and actions.

    Thanks for ‘listening’


    • Greg,
      You and I share a whole lot in common. In fact I am probably real close to your location.
      I have been working with CA on some upcoming things that you may be interested in getting involved with. You might want to touch base with him so we can let you know as they develope

  12. Well put, Matt!
    Ordered my copy today! The peek a boo into the book is frightening!

  13. Notified today that the book has shipped.

    Now if only I could get anyone else in my life to read it…..

    • Semper Fi, 0321

      Boy was that an understatement!
      Denial by the masses seems to be a national cancer. They’re too occupied by the nonsense TV programs or their electronic toys to care about anything else.
      I’m tired of being treated like some Jehovah Witness missionary , but I’m finally learning they don’t want to hear my line of bullshit. They choose to die ignorant, and perhaps it will give the rest of us a better chance at life later.
      Ordered book this afternoon too, immediate shipping confirmation!

      • I heard all that, SF.

        So tired of it, sickened really. I’m working as hard as I can to prepare for my family’s well being and they won’t help, won’t listen.

        • Semper Fi, 0321

          My girlfriend’s my best partner, preps better than I do. Always asking “what else do we need?”. Orders a lot on her own too.
          My sisters in the next state over are in total denial also, they do their best to ignore the lunatic ravings of a mad man. They don’t even read my emails any more. But that’s OK, they’re in charge of their own lives, and whatever happens is not my responsibility. I tried for many years, even bought them things they didn’t want, nothing more I can do.
          And realistically, do you really want someone that stupid draining your resources, and putting nothing into the group but fear and panic? Or ratting you off because they haven’t the courage to go on?
          Seems harsh to treat family that way, but from my background, survival carries more weight than loyalty to egomaniac stupidity.
          Sorta feel for some of you with kids, I have no idea how to deal with that kind of shit under your own roof. It’ll take care of itself, one way or another. Good luck!

  14. Prepping for the worst and praying for the best is never a bad idea.

  15. I saw this book mentioned here some months back and ordered a copy. Indeed it is just as described by Matt and the other contributers here. Don’t delay, get it now!

  16. thank you for introducing us to this book. the free chapter review was well written.

  17. Think of what’s coming as a gigantic factoring-out of the Stupid gene. These things have to happen from time to time. And, though my suburban neighborhood is 97% Libs and Apathetics, I will buy the book.

  18. From the book excerpt: “We are not promoting collectivism or shared interest of group activity except for common defense, providing shelter and food to those in need to the extent possible, providing communications, maintaining hygiene and giving medical aid to those in need only during an emergency until the Crisis passes.

    That’s the Republican sales pitch, and it motivated the obedience which allowed the present problems. I’m buying the book just to see how you propose dealing with the non-participants who won’t pay taxes to your new military dictatorship.

    • Oh for the love of christ not this again…..We covered this already.

    • @Anonymous 04:43
      In essence a “hand up” not a “handout” which is the problem with America today. I ordered the book this morning. I highly doubt I’ll read about paying taxes to a military dictatorship.
      Question: what happens to folks today that refuse to pay taxes to fund the continued Marxist destruction of America?
      Watch Ann Barnhardt to find out.
      Me, I’ll keep preparing until my offspring are old enough to fend for themselves. Then maybe I’ll water a certain tree that is certainly parched by now.

      • Liberals feel their methods are basically sound, and if they haven’t gotten the results they expect then they just need to apply their methods more vigorously. This includes the liberals who vote Republican.

        If this book is going to teach anything other than “how to be an evil dictatorship”, it needs to discuss a method of self-defense that does not assume a local monopoly of force. Imagine I have a railroad boxcar of WWII weapons, and I do not choose to give them to you no matter what words you try to guilt-trip me with. Please explain at length how the “neighborhood protection plan” will never touch a hair on my head, and will never paint a bullseye on me to help the invading barbarians crack my perimeter.

        The “keep everyone outside your perimeter” approach could be misguided; if it’s so hard to defend a perimeter then use that as a feature. Maybe you should build a trap, instead, and point the perimeter weapons inward. Start having NPP organization meetings, then kill everyone who proposes redistributing their neighbors’ preps. Electoral politics is a confession of guilt.

  19. Great review, looking forward to reading this book.

  20. I have been reading, working my way through this book and believe it to the best subject matter on when the SHTF I have ever read.

  21. Pingback: A Failure Of Civility | Liberty and Lead

  22. Mr. Bracken, thanks for pushing me over the tipping point. Finally went ahead and ordered it! What the hell? I’m probably on some kind of watch list already.

  23. Thank You Matthew, I wend ahead and ordered the book.

  24. Pingback: A Failure Of Civility: Business Is Booming | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  25. I am rural but work 75 miles away in the heart of the beast. My most immediate concern is getting home if/when. I assume a minimum of 4 days to walk home and that is somewhat optimistic.

  26. Frank LaFlamme

    Mr. Bracken, you wrote a fine review on a most unusual, and well worth owning, book. As a retired career law enforcement officer in the Los Angeles area, I saw several instances where the system went down (at least partially) for periods of time spanning several days each incident. I tried hard to get members of management to take the threats against our nation more seriously in the decade following the 9-11 attacks, but came up short. It prompted me to write a descriptive novel that portrayed what I think a complete infrastructure break down would look like for Southern CA. I read A Failure of Civility and am of the belief it should be part of everyone’s library who is concerned about such things.

    Of course, I would love to have the opportunity to discuss a few concepts put forth in the book with the authors, but despite a few small differences in opinion, the book is a one-of-a-kind repository of information. Highly recommended.

    Frank LaFlamme