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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Review: Ragnar's Urban Survival

Ragnar's Urban Survival:
 A Hard-Times Guide to Staying Alive in the CityI remember reading about ol' Ragnar Benson during my impressionable younger years. I was never quite sneaky or ambitious enough to purchase one of his books, with titles like Ragnar's Guide to the Underground Economy, Mantrapping, Ragnar's Big Book of Homemade Weapons, and the aptly named Breath of the Dragon (a book about flame throwers), but I remember reading about them in mail order magazines and during the early days of dial-up internet. And I remember wanting them, quite badly. So in my slightly older years, I've taken to picking up the occasional Ragnar book, in part out of curiosity, and in part to see what can be learned from his writings.

Recently, I got a chance to read through Ragnar's Urban Survival, in which the prolific writer tackles the often shunned topic of urban survival. Most survival experts claim that survival in an urban environment, post-collapse, is nigh impossible. Ragnar, however, points out that many of the 20th century's wars and battles were fought in cities and urban areas, and that many people survived in those cities, without much in the way of advanced preparation.

Ragnar also notes that cities are important, both strategically and symbolically, and that most guerrilla resistance--while it may have its roots in the country--takes place in the city. We can see evidence of this in Al Queda action in Iraq/Afghanistan. While guerrilla warfare may not appear to be of much importance to the average survivor, it could come into play during a Red Dawn/repel invaders or a civil-war type scenario. Red Dawn-style TEOTWAWKI is not on the top of my list, but it's worth at least thinking through.

So, conceding that there are certain challenges to urban survival, Ragnar lays out his "rule of threes", which is to have three sources for accomplishing any important task. In the rest of the book, he discusses water, energy, food, food preparation, emergency shelter, caching and storage, trading, guns and survival nursing, specifically as they relate to urban survival. Throughout the book, Ragnar cites real-world examples from unnamed city survivors who made it through disasters/urban warfare--not a bad group to draw experience from.

When you read a Ragnar book, you have to take the good with the bad. Ragnar generally takes a fairly balanced approach, but that "balance" often includes considerations for the far-out-there ideas and tangents. For the most part, this book is relatively light on those ideas, although it does linger too long on the idea of surviving in a city during an invasion/war. More time spent focusing on surviving in a city after other SHTF events would have been beneficial. For the most part though, Ragnar offers fairly sound advice.

Is this book earth shaking? No, but it's a good read and one of the few survival books that focuses on the tricky task of urban survival, and as such, it's at least worth a read. At only 189 pages, it is far from comprehensive, but it does provide a decent overview and should at least give preppers a needed refresher or some new ideas on a few areas of their preparations. Also, because it takes an overview approach, Ragnar's Urban Survival may be a good gift to give a novice survivalist.

Check it out:

Ragnar's Urban Survival: A Hard-Times Guide to Staying Alive in the City >