I got all the Last Stand (audio)books by William H. Webber as a birthday present and I must say they were an amazing gift. If you’re into survival, zombie apocalypse, prepping for doomsday, weapons fanatic and interested in self-preservation – this book – these books – are amazing. They are a wealth of information and while they don’t deal just with survival in a case of a zombie apocalypse (like Max Brooks’s Zombie Survival Guide), they are interesting enough to keep you occupied for a few days.
The first book of the series looks at the start of a potential worst-case scenario for a doomsday prepper and puts it into practice. What if the United States was hit by an EMP pulse that would disable all electronic devices and throw America back into the middle ages (well, turn of the century ages).
John was prepping for this type of scenario (and others less extreme) for a long time. Him, his wife, his son and daughter – they all know how to shoot, hunt, skin squirrels and survive in extreme conditions. When they experienced a black-out that was unusual, killing all phones and computers and modern cars, John knows what’s up so he takes out Betsy – his 1978 Diesel Volvo – and goes on looking for his wife and kids.
A great accent is put on the fact that the first 24-48h of any massive event are filled with confusion, which then turns to panic and then people are no more than animals as social order collapses.
We see this happening through the eyes of a very calm and measured man. His main goal is to retrieve his family and to escape to their remote cabin which is fully equipped to feed a family of 4 for about a year, with rationing.
On his way, he is faced with moral dilemmas that would probably stop any human being:
- Do you help your neighbor with a ride or just offer advice on how to survive the next few days
- Do you share your plans with others?
- Do you steal the things you need as the shelves become emptier and emptier and retail manager see the panic as ways to make more money?
- Do you shoot people who try to take what’s yours? Your car, your food, your guns.
John seems to make the right choices and he manages to survive and more than that – he decides to stay and help his neighborhood get prepped for the following weeks.
He sets up a committee, organizes a food stock take, a water run, a negotiations manager to trade with other street (barter system very similar to medieval times) and most important of all, security.
He is faced with the biggest challenges: convincing the people to be prepared and not having enough people to help. He’s enlisted any person over the age of 17 to help with security but he does not have enough guns and the people are not military trained like he is.
When a nearby drug dealer decides to take control of the streets and ask for a protection fee of 30% of their monthly food, John and his people rally up and stand up to the bully and his subsequent raid.
Many die in the process and the drug dealer is killed too – but the community can no longer survive in the same area and they disband, looking for other places to settle.
John and his family hit the road towards their cabin but when they get there, they have a surprise. There is smoke coming out of the chimney.
I loved how John was faced with one problem after another – making life and death decisions not just for himself but for his family and others. He is faced with a moral dilemma – should he throw out the family of four who inhabit his cabin or take them in and learn to live with the new “tenants”. Where do you draw the line when you’re trying to be helpful? Food rations decrease but then again, there are more hands to help set up a perimeter!
The book ends on another fight – the drug dealer with the half face skull tattoo wasn’t dead and was looking for revenge. In a massive shoot-off, John and his family manage to survive and they count close to 21 dead.
The book ends on a happy note with a small set of cabins now surviving together and the two neighboring families working in unison to survive the EMP blast aftermath.
- Book is fast-paced, filled with loads of action and quick-thinking.
- We hear John from a third person view and we get to weigh in to his decisions. His wife is more emphatic, a good Christian as he puts it and their views on the world would match the majority of the readers.
- There are loads of tips and tricks peppered through the book (very similar to Max Brooks’ book in that aspect). Filling your bath tub and any buckets you might have with water in case of an emergency is a very good point. Having food to last more than 3 days is also another. Having a bug-out bag and flint and stone and know how to make things without the need for technology is another point. What to farm. Where to go. What to buy. All very, very good point
- Any prepper can take this book and use it as a bible for steps to take in case of a communication black-out
- John’s military training is a plus and is definitely mentioned more than once in a book. It would have been interesting to see how average Joe would have survived, but for that I believe we have Cell by Stephen King
- Pretty much directed at Preppers or those who are looking at becoming a Prepper
- The guns and their ammo is described in such great detail that I started skipping passages detailing names and calibre.
- Gun porn, gear porn, a LOT of product placement. The author even tells you what kind of stoves he’s using.
I would say this is a keeper, but let’s see how book 2 is like!