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How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,539 Ratings  ·  118 Reviews
Read James Wesley, Rawles's posts on the Penguin Blog

In the vein of Sam Sheridan's "The Disaster Diaries," a comprehensive guide to preparing for the apocalypse!
With the recent economic crisis, formerly unimaginable scenarios have become terrifyingly real possibilities- learn how to prepare for the worst
Global financial collapse, a terrorist attack, a natural catastroph
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ebook, 336 pages
Published September 30th 2009 by Plume Books (first published September 29th 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mike (the Paladin)
I'm interested in this topic and it's timely. Anything from natural disasters to man made disasters could conceivably bring about the need for a survival mentality or mind set for anywhere from weeks or months to years. In Nashville a few years ago we had a flood that left major parts of the city under water. We all recall Hurricane Katrina. Only about 15 years ago Nashville was hit by an ice storm that left parts of the city without power for weeks in winter.

During that time I had to break out
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Miles
This was not the book that I'd hoped for. The focus is more on accumulation of the right supplies than skill acquisition and mental/emotional preparedness. Also, the advice given simply isn't within the means of most people. Yes, I would like to have a 5 or 6 bedroom alternative energy retreat in the country, complete with four vehicles, livestock, and a fruit orchard. It is, however, about as realistic a goal for me as an airtight, self-sufficient fortress on the moon. Despite mention of differ ...more
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
I started this book reading parts of it out loud to my husband because quite a bit of what the author was saying made perfect sense. Then the more I got in to the book the more I realized that most of us would be toast if the End of the world as we know it happened.
I don't know a single person who has the income for this much prepping. The author suggests that if you live in a city or even 300 miles from a bigger city that you probably need another place to go for your survival.
Food storage..I
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Chris
Dec 19, 2011 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw this sitting on a center stand at the library, and thought it might be interesting. Rawles is a survivalist expert, former U.S. Army Intelligence officer, founder/editor of SurvivalBlog.com, and a preparedness consultant for some very wealthy clients. That alone told me that this book was no joke. Rawles does lean towards the stereotype of a cultish doomsday prophet, but he seriously knows his stuff, and if you can avoid being sucked down the eddy of fear-mongering and what sometimes feels ...more
Sarah
Nov 14, 2009 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up because I read a review which gave the impression that it included more than most such books about working with neighbors/ communities in the case of societal breakdown. Unfortunately there wasn't too much of that, other than advice to store lots of extra stuff (especially ammo and barbed wire!) for barter and charitable giving. The author advocates living in a rural area to keep away from all the people who will be rioting, owning four or more vehicles that run on different typ ...more
Nate Douglas
Jan 23, 2011 Nate Douglas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." - I Timothy 5:8

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not one who believes we're on the verge of a great 2012 calamity or "The End of the World as We Know It". But there are a lot of different events that can interfere with normal American life. The dollar is continuing to fall, another foot is going to fall in the economy, there are lots of people in the
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Kevin Hanks
Apr 05, 2013 Kevin Hanks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will say one thing for this book: it very effectively scared me! Fear is an effective persuasion technique, and I'll admit I was persuaded on many of his recommendations. Whether or not that means I can or will purchase ammunition by the truckload or purchase a propane-powered pickup is another story. There is major takeaway that I took: the lifestyle he is recommending will take every spare dime you have and require you to change every aspect of your life. In other words, preparation for a co ...more
Jill
Jul 22, 2016 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book, along with a similar one, as kind of a joke for my husband, because he would often say, "If there is ever a breakdown of society, xxxx...." But not entirely as a joke--I figured if there ever IS some sort of societal breakdown, maybe it would be good to have a couple of books on hand to refer to. My husband stuck the books on a shelf and never looked at them again. I felt almost a little sorry for them, sitting there unread, so I picked this up one day and gave it a try. I di ...more
Nathanael (Boehm) Coyne
If this is the yardstick against which preppers are measured then I am no prepper. This is hardcore survivalism. No half-measures. Pack up your belongings and move to the country, to a defensible cabin near a reliable freshwater supply with plenty of game around to hunt. "End of the world as we know it" means just that - not your average natural disaster but zombies, foreign invasion, meteor impact, The Plague.

It's still an interesting read even if you're not prepared to go to that extent to ma
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Mary
Apr 10, 2011 Mary rated it it was amazing
This is the best preparedness book I've read. It includes how to prepare in case there is an electric magnetic pulse (EMP)---or in other words---if the grid goes down and the balloon goes up. It recommends specific products and brands. But the author is not an expert on everything he talks about. For example, the older dimes and quarters he says we should all have could be confiscated. And he describes how to hide valuables in our homes, but his recommendations are not fire resistant. Still, thi ...more
Stacy
Jan 20, 2012 Stacy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are wealthy, worried and willing to live in the middle of nowhere, this book is a perfect guide for setting up a safe home. We're talking SAFE. Natural disasters, terrorist activities, martial law - you name it and Rawles can get you ready to face it. Now, the average person (like me!) will have no way to accomplish 80% of the ideas put forth in this book. The good news is that the remaining 20% is still useful enough that I'm planning to add a copy to preparedness stash. And, if am ever ...more
Courtney
Will give anybody a testimony of provident living. Gives me nightmares now to not have planted that garden on my balcony...oh if only we could all have a retreat like Rawles. Some of the chapters went into far more detail on guns and ammo than I could handle--skimmed those. And I disagree with one or two smaller points along the healthcare advice, but this was overall worth reading and I'm glad I own a copy because I'll be referring back to it as my self reliance stages progress...

And to people
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Matt
Sep 10, 2010 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
This was the first book I read on my Kindle after receiving it as a holiday gift. And in an amusing bit of irony, there's no book I would rather have in physical form WTSHTF, as Rawles likes to say.

My biggest shock reading Rawles' treatise on surviving a modern societal collapse was how much thought, preparation, and planning he put into this work. This is not a novel, nor is it a few pieces of advice tied together by stories and what-if scenarios. It's an instruction manual, and frankly, it's a
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John Martindale
Lately, since I can't help but notice those subtle signs of how fragile the world is, I've been interest in learning some basic survival skills. So yeah, I noticed this book at the library and checked it out. Pretty much, right off, Rawles makes the point that I'm merely wasting my time, because if the TEOTWAWKI comes, crazed looters will be roaming everywhere, he even dismisses the idea that one will be able to survive in the woods. So indeed he makes the point (likely a true one) that i am sim ...more
M
Dec 19, 2012 M rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well the world is going to end on Friday (apparently) and this book has not helped me prepare for this at all. There's just not enough time for me to follow the instructions in this book, namely move to a 'retreat' 300 miles away from the nearest city (I have no idea how that would work from where I live in England), stock pile 20 years worth of food, build a functional well, take a course in medicine, learn to shoot, build a generator/battery charger, install an alternative power source... Get ...more
Sheehan
Something about planning for "the end of the world as we know it" (TEOTWAWKI) is maybe better lent to the fiction format Rawles first committed to writing in his original book, Patriots. I say this only because while a book of lists and suggestions, practical and right on point, gets really tedious as soon as you realize just how much planning, foresight, and financial resources it will actually take to make a go of it.

Pretty early into the book, it was clear to me that I would never be fiscally
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Maria E
Nov 20, 2010 Maria E rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apparently, if you want to survive the "end of the world", you need lots of money (to buy all the stuff you'll need and some land to build a safe compound) and lots of time to get all this stuff organized and stored. I have concluded that, if the end of the world comes along, in whatever shape or form, I am going to the front lines to fight the enemy (instead of hiding), help the diseased (if it's a pandemic) or climbing up on my roof to watch the fireworks (if it's nuclear war). This amount of ...more
travelgirlut
This book was more of a beginner primer than I had expected. Most of the information is copy and pasted directly from his Web site. If you know nothing about preparedness, you'll learn something from this book. If you have a bit of background in it, you might pick up a bit of info here or there. He did address a couple things other books don't, like how to deal with the dead or delivering babies. But most every topic is just brushed over and you would have to find further resources to really lea ...more
Robert Chapman
Jun 05, 2013 Robert Chapman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: society
This book stands alone when it comes to planning for what comes after societal breakdown or The End of the World as We Know It (TEOTWAWKI). If you feel the need to start planning and preparing then you find this book to be a massive of list of lists and an indispensable reference.

I have to admit it's kind of gloomy to consider what happens after TEOTWAWKI and the level of constant preparedness each of us will require to survive.

If you are serious about getting a genuine start on the road to prep
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Sean Banks
Feb 12, 2012 Sean Banks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Useful general information on preparing for end of world scenarios. Stresses the importance of the well stocked retreat mentality of survival. Goes into many varied topics around this concept, such as proper vehicles, food growing methods, firearms etc. Does not provide heavy detail into any specific field, but points you to other literature that definitely will. Definitely not the end all book on post apocalyptic lifestyle, but a useful amalgamation of the basic concepts of how to survive and w ...more
Matthew
I will freely admit to not knowing quite how to review this book.
First of all, this a book for serious preppers/survivalist. While I admit an interest in the topic, it is abundantly clear that I do not subscribe to the concepts and methods of full blown dedication outlined in the book. But at least for me, that does not make the book any less enjoyable. And in fact, approaching the book with a curiosity of the subject, I found it quite fascinating.

The book itself is an outline of the concerns,
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Erika Palmquist Smith
So I picked this up at the library because, um, hello?!? Look at the title!! Why not, I feel like surviving the apocalypse! I was also thinking it might give me some ideas for our neglected earthquake-kit, which is apparently something that Californians have.

It is a SUPER intense manual for things that you need to survive. Like, run-for-the-hills-and-bury-extra-gasoline intense. He has a lot of knowledge about hoarding food and prepping for the apocalypse, and there are many detailed description
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Kelly Delph
Mar 11, 2016 Kelly Delph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good book, though awfully short. He just skims the high points, really.
Stephen
Mar 30, 2016 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is probably the most comprehensive book on preparing a homestead/BOL I've ever got my hands on. I'm going to have reread it several times with a highlighter to be able to grasp all of the concepts presented. Rawles is one of the best writers I've come across. He deals with everything from fuel storage, vehicle purchase, perimeter security, food storage. It's just an amazing amount of information to digest.
Rus Ray
This book is an excellent resource for someone that is TRULY paranoid of the end of the world scenario, and is determined to start planning for it right now. "How To Survive The End Of The World As We Know It" is packed with useful information on any topic you need to know if you believe the end is definitely near.

I borrowed a copy from a friend, but I will probably end up buying one for myself.
Erwin
Dec 13, 2011 Erwin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read.
I think there is a simpler answer to Rawles complaints. Move.
The US is one country, there is a big planet. Go somewhere else.

That said, it's a good idea to read, just to prepare yourself mentally in advance. Have some idea of the time frame that you'll need to get prepared if WW3 (or Gread Depression 2) does break out.

He does make a lot of interesting points.
Eileen Reeger
Very helpful and thought-provoking. I really admired the attention paid to being charitable and being part of the solution while still covering your own backside. Of course there was much more info on land ownership, special vehicles etc than I could ever hope to afford but I found this to be a book I'd like to have in my personal library.
Gregj
Dec 05, 2011 Gregj rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book gives a good overview of the supplies you might need in case of an prolonged disaster or complete societal collapse. I don't think retreating to a highly secure compound is a good long term solution however, and believe the only way through something as drastic as the author is proposing is to work together as a community.
Arnpoe
Jun 04, 2013 Arnpoe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book packs a lot of essential theory into its pages. Rawles is an expert on the subject and this book addresses items missed or misunderstood by most other survivalist and prepper authors. It is NOT a basic survival book; it is a book that addresses the philosophies and strategies behind surviving large scale disaster.
Mark
Jan 23, 2014 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Impressions/Presentation

Initially I didn’t know what to expect from “How to survive the end of the world as we know it” written by James Wesley Rawles. I ordered it online based on positive ratings and as you can imagine a very striking title. The book is relatively small so you can read it on the go. It is three hundred and nine pages total. This includes fourteen chapters and appendixes. The back of the book highlights the main topics covered by the book. The text is a good size and the book i
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Rawles received a Bachelor of Arts degree from San Jose University. He served as a United States Army Military Intelligence officer from 1984 to 1993 and resigned his commission as a U.S. Army Captain immediately after Bill Clinton became President of the United States.

Rawles worked as an Associate Editor and Regional Editor (for the Western U.S.) with Defense Electronics magazine in the late 1980
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More about James Wesley Rawles...

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“The modern world is full of pundits, poseurs, and mall ninjas. Preparedness is not just about accumulating a pile of stuff. You need practical skills, and those come only with study, training, and practice. Any armchair survivalist with a credit card can buy a set of stylish camouflage fatigues and an "M4gery" carbine encrusted with umpteen accessories. Style points should not be mistaken for genuine skills and practicality.” 4 likes
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