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How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times
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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 ·  1,974 ratings  ·  140 reviews
Read James Wesley, Rawles's posts on the Penguin BlogIn 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 catastrophe-all
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 30th 2009 by Plume (first published September 29th 2009)
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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
David Schaafsma
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
So, I wouldn’t describe myself as a survivalist. Normally, I would distance myself fro m the public stereotype of craze paranoiac folks living off the grid with their stash of guns. Post WWII by Dad had as many Americans had, a kind of basement shelter in case The Japanese might retaliate on the US for Hiroshima with their own nuclear holocaust. We had water and food and other supplies for up to three months in one room, and during tornado warnings we went down in that room. Not quite the school ...more
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 ...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
Dec 04, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
A timely read for me. Lots of good, practical stuff that came in handy preparing for Hurricane Irma and the following full week without electrical power. He has some very practical and helpful advice on, for example, on making a "Lists of Lists" which, for an ADD sufferer like me, is a great tool for organizing. (I have made lists of lists for trials for years, but never thought it would "cross-platform" into preparing for other events.) Some of those events (mainly regarding currency, the book ...more
Dec 19, 2011 rated it liked it
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, 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
Nate Douglas
Jan 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
"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
Nov 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Jul 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
John Martindale
Mar 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Nathanael 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
Kevin Hanks
Apr 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Apr 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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, ...more
Jan 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 08, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Sep 10, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Aug 28, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Maria E
Nov 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 05, 2010 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Sean Banks
Feb 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Robert Chapman
May 24, 2013 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
Russell Ray
Sep 30, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 13, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Jun 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Eileen Reeger
Dec 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: survivalism, how-to
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.
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Pretty good book, though awfully short. He just skims the high points, really.
American Redoubt
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is what I learned from this awesome book.

Seriously considering the dismal state of the U.S. economy, massive government debt and overspending, the money printing out of thin air by the Federal Reserve (QE3 - printing money like it's going out of style, because it IS going out of style), and the U.S. Debt to GDP ratio.

Thus, it seems time to get out of the stock market soon, cash in your IRA-401K paying the 10% penalty and get reinvested in tangibles like the "Five B's": 1.) Beans, 2.)
Joseph Santiago
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Incredible details on everything you could possibly need. That also made it a bit dry in places. Overall, this was a exceptional read for prepping.

Me. Joe
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James Wesley, Rawles (born 1960) is an American author, best known for his survivalist-genre Patriots novel series. Rawles is a former U.S. Army Intelligence officer. He is the founder and Senior Editor of, which covers survival and preparedness topics, and has published collected material from this in two books. He also works as a survival retreat consultant. Rawles is a ...more
“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.” 6 likes
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