Prepping: Book Wolfing (1)

As I get further into outlining the second book on the collapse of the Internet (Broken Web came out in 2012), the folly of Man’s waste of resources becomes ever-more apparent.

We live in a society that – presented with the great promise of advancement based on “mind amplifiers” – has not only turned its back on factual investigations and seeking of more subtle  relationships on Earth – but has now gone so far as to see a complete bastardization of education and human enterprise.

To the astute observer (go ahead, play the role for us), we have see four major personal information consumption paradigm shifts in the last 100 years.

The first epoch was when tramp steamers were still traversing the globe.  Famous writers like Louis L’Amour were working their way around the world – the greatest adventure of all.  L’Amour read to his shipmates in the foc’sul of many such ships, we he wasn’t “on the beach” at San Pedro with other stranded seamen looking to pick up a ship.

What he read were “the classics” and although the print is terribly-small for older eyes, the small shirt-pocket sized books of the Everyman’s Library are very collectible.

“Everyman’s Library was conceived in 1905 by London publisher Joseph Malaby Dent, whose goal was to create a 1,000-volume library of world literature that was affordable for, and that appealed to, every kind of person, from students to the working classes to the cultural elite. Dent followed the design principles and to a certain extent the style established by William Morris in his Kelmscott Press. This style was later replaced in 1935 by Eric Ravilious‘s designs.[1] Everyman’s Library books were pocket-sized hardcovers that sold initially for what was then the remarkably low price of a shilling apiece. The original U.S. distribution rights were granted to New York City publishers, E. P. Dutton. “

When I interview L’Amour years ago, his recounting the heat of a summer night in the tropics under a weak oil lamp before a dozen men from all walks of life, lit a certain fire in his eye.  He was truly a person who walked the wagon ruts in the books he wrote.  His “prepper mindset” book being “Last of the Breed” which remains my undisputed winner for evolving the prepper mind-set.  Because when push comes to shove, the harder you are between the ears, the better your chances of survival.

Back to Point:  The second major change in personal information absorption was the increasingly important evolution of technology.  Virtually any of the technology books in mechanics, electric motors, air conditioning, radio communications, engineering, and medicine from 1925 through 1960 are worth having.

For about $14 on the used market, the basics in “Combined Volume: (1) Hildebrand & Powell Principles of Chemistry, 6th Ed.; (2) Latimer & Hildebrand Reference Book of Inorganic Chemistry, 3rd Ed.” is a dandy foundation from which to grow.

To really beef up your prepping library, I’ve found the only thing missing in James F. Lincoln’s Metals and How To Weld Them (yes, of Lincoln Welder fame) extremely useful.  A gift from a friend, Ehor, it seldom goes more than a month without being opened on some point, or other.

Later, as technologies evolved, the compendiums of “formulas and portions” became a whole sub-genre.  Among these, best of the lot is Glover and Young’s “Desk Ref” which at $147 a whack hardback is easier to explain to the missus as a paperback for $24.

When Manufacturing Left….

A huge change beset America’s reading habits because, in case you missed my bias, I believe people will “read to their environment.”

By 1990, the destruction of “production America” was coming into focus.  The same titanic forces of telecommunication that had “taken down the Soviets” were also at work on America’s technical foundations.  As factories were boxed up and shipped to China, aided and abetted by Bill Clinton’s sellout of American computer tech to the Mainland, America went into fantasy land.

The first Harry Potter book, for example, was published on June 26, 1997.  But, the genre of American escapism into reading had its root in pseudo-classics like Allan Quatermain (our Old Librarian, if awake at this hour, would emphasize it’s Quater not Quarter, lol) collection of stories came out a hundred years earlier.

The but escapism was invading the American mindset:  Indian Jones, seems to if if you read the Wiki entry:

The character first appeared in the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark, to be followed by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in 1984, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles from 1992 to 1996, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in 2008.

Which leads us?  From The Classics to the Tech to the Escape?

Well, now we’re virtualizing.  “Made-up Money”  (Bitcoin or what passes for “money” in SecondLife.)

This transition is a bit difficult to fully comprehend because of online media consumption habits.  For example, the Stanford “Lit-Lab” found in 2017 that although fiction accounts for 8.2 percent of books published that year, it accounted for 23 percent of sales.  (I need to focus on fiction more, lol…)

Scarier?  Here’s the quote that explains why idiots get elected to and hold officer with such ease:  “…just 47% of Americans buy books of any kind in any format, and a huge number of them were adult coloring books last year.)

Which means what?

According to the Pew Research Center
Around two-thirds (68%) of U.S. adults use Facebook.

Which Means WHAT for Preppers?

Close your eyes for a moment and pretend the Internet is gone.  Finis.  Kaput.

No routers, no DNS, no satellite sigs – big ol’ nuthin.

Now, how do you “start over?”

Beyond the basics of guns, gold, grub, and God (and Glock) what do you need?

Durable information.

Looked at in one way, we are standing high on a pyramid of past mistakes.  But what exactly were those?  Remember how to do fractions in your head?

When times come, the real prepping – the kind that will get you through a period of heavy fallout or almost any other catastrophe – will not necessarily be a “supply” crisis so much as it will be an informational crisis.

If you are fortunate enough to have a suitable landing zone (LZ) when it happens, your next task series will be “adapting, improvising, and overcoming” the obstacles before you.

Another water purifier might be nice…but do you know the secrets of cutting and splitting a few cords of wood?  Own an axe?  Splitting wedges?  Books and a slide rule?

This is the “real” stuff of prepping.

Which gets us to the simple question:  What actual prepping books do you have?  What at the 12 books you might be willing to carry?

No ebooks, no solar panels..just real by-God books.  The one’s you can’t carry need to be learned quickly as time grows short.  Desk Ref is great.  Which 11 others?  Foraging in your part of the country?  Medicine without a doctor?

At the top of Babel it’s hard to imagine societal collapse.  But other high civilizations have beaten us to it, so it really won’t be anything new.

Write when you get rich,

24 thoughts on “Prepping: Book Wolfing (1)”

  1. The little pocket hardcover books I see in estate sales are really hard to resist. One of them that I have is Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” printed by Macmillan. It is, by far, the most read of all that I have since it came off its press. It has everything that has been whitewashed and drained from the story that you see now, if you do. What I love about it is the way it is written you can actually “hear” the brogue, the accents of the characters talking like nothing in print today. It’s definitely a beyond-PG story.

    Others I have are of the English Classics series printed by Maynard, Merrill & Co.; Eclectic English Classics printed by the American Book Co. and a little paperback printed by Haldeman-Julius Co. I think they were all school text books originally (damn our great-grandparents were lucky!) as most have kids’ writings in them. They’re all priceless to me. I dream of a time I can sit and read them to my grandkids like families did ‘way back when – when times had some element of sanity in them.

    • I totally forgot about those Bill… Lol my parents were on the monthly list to. Very Little tv in our house .. I found time life book clubs enjoyable to. Just gave those away to my grand daughter for my great grandkids .

      • Oh, these aren’t the old Reader’s Digest books. These were printed back around 1900, give or take a few years. One has a kid’s writing in it with the date of 1917 – 18 school year. Another’s inside covers are completely taken up with barely legible notes penciled in. If you ever find these don’t hesitate to buy them. They’re pure gold!

  2. “Everyman’s Library ”
    Don’t forget The readers digest condensed book club either.. my parents got all of them they were in several book clubs I was in several book clubs.. someplace I have all of louis lamoures books digitized pdf versions along with zane grey for fun reading reminiscent of child hood days.. oh my.. hardy boys and nancy drew.. I have all of them to.. and a few more.. on an ebook reader I got in case I was hospitalized and bored.. I keep a couple thousand books put them on there when I was telling some kids that to save money they should digitize the books for their classes.. ..

    He actually just got back from visiting the LOC… because I told him how wonderful the place is..

    “ ”

    “ ”

    boy does that bring back memories George.. thank you for this blast from the past.. the vision of rushing to the post office to see if the new monthly title was in.. it was a huge thing with my parents who loved to read and ultimately became my passion as well..LOL.. readers digest would replicate many in the everyman.. at one time I had several copies of the same book.. downsized them though.. got rid of a bunch of them.. now I have digital copies.. of my favorites..

    The thing I keep telling everyone is learn as much as you can.. in a real SHTF scenario.. libraries will be gone.. history has thousands of lost libraries world wide.. we have gone digital.. people are to busy to spend an hour reading a day.. I read faster than most.. and more than the average.. in a shtf scenario.. we have material at hand.. that will supply our needs for a couple of years..
    we have outsourced our industrial complex and all the old world tool and dye makers are gone or going.. I use to know an old world blacksmith and watch him make lots of stuff as a kid.. if we broke our bikes leave it.. come back and it would be fixed.. how much money do you have in your pocket.. if we had ten cents.. he took a penny if we had a nickle.. he would say you do the dishes and take out the trash for a week.. that will be payment enough for me..
    as the materials we have now dwindle.. the ability to replicate what we have now will become a challenge.. I say this a lot.. but most people don’t know how to make a sheet of paper.. we take the obvious for granted.. we don’t know how to make a pencil.. communication.. radios etc.. they would be toast.. paper and pencils.. another story..
    that is also why a lot of our history books are on stone tablets or penned years after. the stories were passed down from generation to generation by the elders the scribes etc.
    This is also why I would love to have the stories from the Indian elders penciled out and put in schools.. we need the information there..
    the libraries digitized and as the old paper versions decay.. the vast majority of humans have taken all the little things for granted.. girls no longer knit sweaters or sew dresses.. make lace using threads and small bobbins.. so net making skills will be gone foundry skills as well.. tool and die.. history.. the vast majority gone after the first year and even though people have heard of vast libraries.. won’t even have a clue where to look..
    I use to collect how to do patterns.. it was a child hood hobby..I still have some but most are gone.. really will i ever make a saddle LOL a few I have done.. made a satellite dish and receiver long before they became available.. LOL that one I will never do again.. guaranteed.. it was a nightmare and the dish I build looked bigger than the house.. god I digressed again..

  3. According to Carlson and Hancock, precious few survived the global catastrophe at the Younger Dryas. Global legends speak of the “gods” (presumably Atlantean survivors) who rebooted civilization to the savages. They did spread remnants of their advanced tech, but it was a small amount and widely scattered.

    If we have the kind of collapse you are prepping for, I doubt that our civilization could be restarted. Forstchen predicts 90% death rate for EMP event. Even with all you have planned and put in place, you might not survive either. You do have much better odds, but it’s those “wild cards” that get you.

    I don’t wish to survive such a calamity and prefer to go home.

  4. Can we get more of this? If I may put in a request here for more of this? This was a huge gold mine, a wealth of information!

  5. George

    “Books and a slide rule?”

    I was working as a consultant in silicon valley when hurricane Katrina rolled over New Orleans and my house which is about ten miles to the east of the French quarter. My substantial collection of technical books and my excellent Dietzgen Multi Log slide rule were devoured by a wall of salt water from the Gulf of Mexico. I miss my old Napiers Bones as it was my faithful helper in my early days before hand held calculators!

    Anything that didn’t come with me to California washed away. Putting my book collection together again has been difficult. The old collection took over forty years to build.

    I would recommend that people concentrate on food production and wild food plant foraging books for their library!

  6. Another great series of books that encourage a “prepper” mindset are the Little House on the Prairie books, more practical than the idealized tv show.

  7. For Prep-Books, The Boy Scouts publish a variety of field handbooks. They revolve around camping and woodsmanship, but many other subjects of good use to being Prepared are in the list. (…or, at least used to be.)

    Early editions of “The Joy Of Cooking” are good, too, You can tell if you have the right version if it has a recipe for squirrel stew. (no kidding) Later revised editions did not have that one — and many other Very Basic Things.

  8. Hi George,
    Something you and your readers might be interested in along the lines of acquiring knowledge in a wide range of subjects. The founder of this site, Sal Kahn, has put together a very impressive curriculum to teach anyone of any age just about anything one would want to learn. (And it’s free!!)

    • Thanks Dan…I didn’t know about that site.. MIT has free courses are so does just about every high end school.and almost every college in the world..a great school in india. You just don’t get the credits

  9. a Slide-rule,
    good point, how many know what one is, we used them in high school,
    sometimes found in antique or thrift stores, still available on the internet, the best were Bamboo core with a quality plastic surface and numbers cut in.
    Used in Engineering before calculators, planes and rockets designed with these tools, flying used to involve the use of a circular type.
    Really great for multiplication, roots/powers, trig, any logarithmic functions, and a consecutive string thereof.
    How many remember how to count your decimal points/powers of 10?
    I still use one sometimes when I get it out of storage, so much easier and reliable compared to a electronic pad,
    there are even slide rule simulation apps available free, for your ‘puter, not quite as friendly as the real tool, but they work well.
    well, they don’t do addition that I know, but that is what an abacus is for.
    and the accuracy, number of places, is only as good as your eye/hand skill.

  10. In the State of Georgia, we have

    The Foxfire Vision
    Foxfire is a nationally-recognized heritage preservation organization and a model for how learner-centered education enriches students and their communities and builds connections across generations.

    The Foxfire Mission
    Foxfire’s mission is to preserve the diverse traditions of Southern Appalachia and advance the understanding and appreciation of cultural heritage through public programs, publications, and learner-centered education.

    They have a great collection of ‘how to’ from verbal stories of living in the Southern Hills of Appalachia without electricity or motors or lots of fancy gadgets. Knowledge is out there if you look for it. But, knowledge and hard work is in poor regard in today’s society. It’s all feelings and entitlement.

    George, we are past our time. It’s going to be hard to survive with nothing but feelings and hopes.

  11. I heard that 75% of high school graduates NEVER read another book after graduation.
    60% of college graduates NEVER read another book after graduation. Egads!

    I love books. Real paper, hold them in your hands books.

    But this post reminds me that I need more technical, how-to type books (Firefox series comes to mind) and to print out all the pdf’s I have saved.

  12. Hard drives are cheap, and so are spare computers – even old notebooks. Download everything you will ever want from the net while you can. Go for tens of terabytes worth of stuff. Make at least two copies of each full drive and label them. Put at least one in a metal garbage can offline. Spin them up once a year at least. Print off anything that’s essential to life.

    Getting or making passable electricity to run a computer is not that hard, even after an EMP event. Long term it’s a bigger problem but you’ll have time to solve it. Right now, the net still has useful stuff, but less so than 10 years ago. Hoover it all up while you can.

    Dead tree books are useful, but are heavy, slow to access and are terribly difficult to store properly. They have their place – especially if you have a spare house to fill with them.

  13. “Another water purifier might be nice…but do you know the secrets of cutting and splitting a few cords of wood? Own an axe? Splitting wedges? Books and a slide rule?”

    Got it, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes…

    ‘Gonna haveta think about the book thing. The only two which come to mind are already in my, and my kids’ GO-bags: The Boy Scout Handbook (vintage, before BSA started putting all the crap in them) and Be Expert with Map and Compass: The Complete Orienteering Handbook, by Björn Kjellström. The Kjellström book is simply the best orienteering pub ever written. We also have Edmund Scientific Star and Planet Locators to supplement the orienteering book (I paid less than $1 each. ES used to sell them for a quarter. Now they’re mucho dinero off Amazon…)

    • OMG! I completely spaced it! They’d be a pain to carry, but possibly the best SHTF prepping books ever written are the Foxfire series…

    • My first buisness/job was splitting wood. I was 10 years old. I chopped a cord of wood for a whopping $10. The price of an Atari 2600 video game. I grew up in Alaska. My grandpa, said he would give me splitting maul If I chopped 3 cords for him. He pointed at it and said, Son see that right there? I said yes Pa. He said that is a money maker in these parts.

      When I got to age 12, He was so proud of me, i saved up enough money to buy a log splitter, he bought me a 1978 Chevt 1 ton that hit a Moose out on the Kalifonski Beach road. It had no front windshield and it was stuck in low 4. He slapped a snow plow on it, redneck rigged the heater on to full blast, put a cheep amfm radio in it with a tape deck and a house speaker. Then said, you see that there pick em up truck son? I said yes pa, money maker? He said yep, have at it.

      So I plowed driveways in the winter, towing my log splitter behind me. Charged $20 to plow a driveway, $30 if it was a biggen and raised my rate to $15 a cord of wood. Gas was about a dollar a gallon if i rememeber right, and i got about 10 miles to the gallon.

      Just went door to door. Took the back roads, only had 3 cops in town and they never said a word to me, just waved and smiled. Usually did 10 driveways a week and about 10-12 cords of wood. :)

  14. George,
    I did have my ears on. Right on about the Quatermaine thing. BTW King Solomon’s Mines and She are also good reads, also by the same author.

    Re the books to have with you discussion, one might wish to have an Almanac, Merck Manual for medical info, and a CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. If space and transportation are not issues, then An Encyclopedia of Science and Technology and a set of the Great Books of the Western World.

    One might want to identify libraries (if any) for scavenger hunts for information. The Reference section will be the important part. Finally, don’t forget that colleges and universities will be fertile ground for scavenging for information, maps, glassware, chemicals, tools etc.

    Keep up good work.

  15. Great book for learning how communications systems work and all over ebay. Electronic Communication by Robert L. Shrader . Saw one for $4.16 with free shipping. You can’t go wrong with that.

  16. 1. “The Art of Blacksmithing” by Alex W. Bealer
    2. “Storey’s Basic Country Skills”
    3. “The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide” by Joseph Alton, MD & Amy Alton, APNP
    4. “The Formula Manual” 4th Ed. by Stark Research Associates
    5. “Southeast Foraging” by Chris Bennet
    6. “The Woodwrights Guide” by Roy Underhill
    7. “Back to Basics” by Readers Digest Books
    8. “Basic Butchering of Livestock & Game” by John J. Mettler Jr., DVM
    9. “The Complete Book of Outdoor Cookery” by Helen Evans Brown & James A. Beard
    10. “How to Live Without Electricity _ And Like It” by Anita Evangelista
    11. “The Alaskan Bootleggers Bible” by Leon W. Kania
    12. “How to Convert Wood into Charcoal and Electricity” by Richard H. Buxton

  17. Scanned the list of recommended reading/reference books and did not see one that I would suggest. It may be somewhat technical, but “Machinery’s Handbook” provides a wealth of knowledge in the metal working field.

    Also, liked the suggestion of Boy Scout handbooks. On those, look for the older editions which were published before the Boy Scouts became transgender. Better practical knowledge. I have mine from 55 years ago and one from a family member that is some 30 years older than that. There is a marked difference to those of today. In fact, there is a huge difference between mine and the older edition.

    I also have my mother’s high school chemistry textbook from the early 1940’s. A much more practical look at chemistry, especially if restarting in a non-tech world.

    I would suggest looking for some of the older reference/textbooks along with those more up to date.

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