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He’s Not Wrong: My Very First Negative Review

April 9, 2018

I am pretty stingy with my money. Outside of certain items, I am very much a minimalist by preference, so I tend to think about things in depth before buying them, debating whether I need them, and how much I need them. This is even more so the case with training classes I take.

One of the due diligence steps I take, when considering any purchase, is looking for reviews of the product. Obviously, I look for positive reviews, but equally important to me, I look for negative reviews. You see, when I find something that no one, ever, has anything negative to say about, it makes me suspicious. Especially in the world of for-profit Internet search engines, where I know manufacturers and sellers can pay to have negative reviews of their products buried in the ether.

One of the things I have done, on a reasonably regular basis, is look for negative reviews of my classes and books. I haven’t been able to find any, and it bothered me, because someone, SOMEWHERE, had to have had a shitty experience in my classes (even if they were just bitching about the weather or range facilities—which have been pretty damned austere at times…), or thought my books sucked. I’ve never been able to find one.

Then, the other day, I noticed a comment on the blog, that was a negative review. AWESOME! And—to be clear—I am extremely grateful for this reader, even if my response below makes it sound otherwise.

I am in the curious position where I won (for free) a copy of Forging the Hero in hard copy. It was a fascinating read, and about 3/4 was solid information. I would pay about $20 for it. Truthfully it’s entertainment. As are amateur radio, gardening or gunsmithing books. Sure, there could/will be a scenario where these skills allow me to survive, but in early 2018 as I write this, all of the above come out of my “hobby” budget.

Back to the book. There weren’t any secrets, but a good deal of research backs up the conclusions (as it should). It’s really a comprehensive explanation and perspective. You can inexpensively read/listen to material by Jack Donovan and others and arrive at a similar perspective on “modern tribalism” (if that’s a term).

I’d recommend it to a friend, but at a time when nearly any published work from human history is available on Kindle for < $20, there is some sticker shock. You’d think it was a university text book on communist gender studies given the price tag.

Thanks for the writing the book, and if you are badly offended by my opinions, then best of luck during the “post-industrial” era.

 

Here’s the thing: He’s not wrong…sort of.

First, let’s talk about ebooks. For awhile, we offered the ebook version of Forging the Hero as part of a package, when buying the hard copy. I detest ebooks anyway (although, I do have a Kindle), but the real problem with ebooks, from an author’s perspective, is intellectual property theft. There is at least one pirated copy of Forging the Hero floating around on the Internet. Ironically, it is, or was, hosted on a White Nationalist site, according to the source who informed me about it. There isn’t shit I can do about that now, because it simply is out there. That’s not the end of the world, but it is a pretty fucked up deal for a dude to spend the effort and time to write a fucking book, only to have people steal the proceeds of his effort. So, I’m not going to make it EASIER for people to do that. So, yes. My book is more expensive than some of the others that are tangentially related to its subject matter.

 

Let’s parse the rest of the review though.

You can inexpensively read/listen to material by Jack Donovan and others and arrive at a similar perspective on “modern tribalism”

This is interesting, coming from someone who allegedly read my book. Perhaps he didn’t notice that Jack wrote the fucking Foreword of the book, and mentioned that it is a more hands-on approach to the theory and philosophy he discusses in his work? But, hey, that’s cool. There ARE a lot of dudes writing on the subject, from a variety of angles, currently. You SHOULD read their books. You should damned sure read Jack’s books. What you won’t typically get from them, that you do get from FTH, is the annotated research notes that go along with it, supporting the arguments and positions. Maybe you don’t want, or need those. In that case, then no, you shouldn’t spend $40 on a textbook (which, as Pastor Joe Fox, of Viking Preparedness pointed out in a video recently, is exactly what my books are.).

 

Truthfully it’s entertainment. As are amateur radio, gardening or gunsmithing books. Sure, there could/will be a scenario where these skills allow me to survive, but in early 2018 as I write this, all of the above come out of my “hobby” budget.

This is the crux of the reviewer’s statement, and it also the absolute, most truthful aspect of his review. For many people—see my article on Craftsmanship in Preparedness—this IS a hobby. It’s an entertaining hobby, that allows overweight, middle-aged, middle-class, adult men to play dress-up in multicam, and pretend to be stone-cold mankilling JSOC Jedi warriors, fighting off roving bands of pillaging Communist Jihadists. In that case, the reviewer is ABSOLUTELY CORRECT!!! Spending $40 for a book, that is going to tell you that you are approaching your hobby from the wrong angle, is ABSOLUTELY a stupid fucking idea.

I don’t approach preparedness as a hobby. Students who have been in classes, and some readers who are actually friends and acquaintances in meatspace can regale you with stories of how “not a hobby” this is for me. I recognize that it is not a matter of “could/will.” Like the perspective presented in my books, I—and my wife and children and the rest of the inner circle of my tribe—recognize that this is not some potential future calamity we are facing. Just like I discussed, in nauseating detail in Forging the Hero, we are already living in the “ShadowRun Cyber-Punk Dystopian Future.”

If you are serious—rather than a hobbyist suffering from the middle-class myopia that “this isn’t REALLY going to get any worse. It has to get better”—I am going to lay claim that my books are absolutely worth the price I charge for them. If you are a hobbyist—whether self-admitted, like the reviewer, or not—then no, you shouldn’t buy my books. They ARE expensive, and the work required to put the concepts and skills described in them is WAY more effort than you are going to put into a hobby.

 

Thanks for the writing the book, and if you are badly offended by my opinions, then best of luck during the “post-industrial” era.

 

I’m not offended, at all. I am surprised it took so long for someone to write even this negative of a review of the book. I am grateful, because it actually kills two birds with one stone. It helps discourage the hobbyists from spending money that they will feel would be better spent elsewhere, on some piece of MOLLE/PALS capable gear, no doubt, and because it means there is FINALLY at least one negative review of something I have produced, so people like me don’t get the idea that I am paying Google to bury negative search results.

The reality is, my books ARE expensive. They could be cheaper. If I decided to let someone like Lulu (who does the printing these days) handle the distribution side of things as well, I could charge less. As it is though, handling that side of things, even though it costs more for the buyer, meaning I sell less, allows me to pay the teenage kid of a clan member to handle the sorting and packaging on my end, contributing to the current and future strength of my clan and community. That is a sacrificial trade-off I am willing to make.

As far as the final clause in the sentence, that was obviously intended as a final parting insult? I am doing particularly well in the post-industrial period. My family is housed in a good home. My clan is well-fed, thanks to the valiant farming efforts of my wife, and the winter weather seems to have finally broke, so I can get shit done.

Sincerely, to the reviewer, you have my thanks.

To readers, again, he’s not wrong. If you view preparedness as one of your hobbies, you should definitely, DEFINITELY not buy my books. And, you DAMNED SURE don’t want to take one of my classes, if that is the case. They are even harder than reading the books.

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8 Comments
  1. Diz permalink

    Ha, that is somewhat funny even though it may not be meant so. Typical millennial mindset of intellectual superiority. I put it in my hobby category, so it’s not worth it. I have spoken.

    Well, even though this tool may have his own estimate of the situation, that does not mean everyone else must agree with it. You can do damn near anything you want, but if someone has a different estimate, then these books may damn well be worth every penny.

    I for one, totally disagree with his assessment. Therefore the books are indispensable to me. I have put it in my get ready for the shit category, so they are totally worth it. Do as you see fit.

    But he has no real criticism of the material, just the cost of a privately published book. Typical entitlement mentality. All things should be available to me-cheap.

    This hardly qualifies as any real criticism, IMHO. Just some snarky comments on the cost of the material.

    It’s really hard to find fault with what Mosby is laying down. Only that his standards are really high, but then if that’s what the reality is, then that’s just shooting the messenger.

    I may think he’s a total dick for pointing out all my weaknesses, but then that’s on me to get un-fucked.

    So doctrinally, I can’t really find fault. But can understand people getting butt-hurt by the presentation. Most people aren’t used to this kind of thing.

    Would I leave feedback to say tone it down? No, not really. I think it’s for most folks to harden the fuck up on the other side of that equation.

  2. jukk0u permalink

    Yup. Criticism is essential to improvement. Good reviews are nice, and one must recognize peoples’ need to offer praise (I think it is kind of a reflexive affirmation of the validity and importance of their own experiences and opinions), but empty praise is worthless. “Thank you, I appreciate your need to nurture and acknowledge the importance of your feelers, but…what could I have done better?”

    Good praise: “I like that you offered x,y and z. How you explained such and so with depth. ”

    but should be coupled with effective criticism e.g.:

    “your exploration of exhibit 1 would have been more effective with some background on its development as well as the current state…” or “more charts and illustrations would have helped”…

    FWIW: I offered some criticism of your first tome to the effect that editing the fracking sentence fragments, misspellings and misused words would go a long way to bolstering your credibility as both a writer and an expert on the subject. Whether you consciously took that advice or have merely grown in your word-craft, you have improved.

    As soon as my second mortgage goes through and I can by the next volume 🙂 I have no further input to offer.

  3. TheSpartanMonkey permalink

    I wouldn’t even call that a negative review. It’s like someone who buys a book on nuclear engineering, then complains that it’s too deep for his model submarine building fetish. And he got the book for free, so he never had to make the value judgement and plunk down his own cold, hard cash. Being a hobbiest, I’m guessing he never would’ve bought it. IMO, the negative review you’re looking for will come from a True Believer.

    With regard to the price: much too much is expected for nothing these days. Everyone wants, even demands, free content. I paid the big jing for your books because of the content, but more so because I thought it rewarded you for past work (blog and book) and would help support your future efforts. It’s the same reason I willingly pay more for something to a local vendor vs ordering off the internet. We’ve got to get beyond price shopping and realize that we’re not just buying a thing, we’re choosing to support a person.

    • jukk0u permalink

      Agreed. And this is one and the same reason to buy domestic product and not Chinese (or whatever labor exploitive extra-national interest’s merchandise – and especially from one determined to bring and end to our existence.

      Save a nickel now, Pay with your life and livelihood later.

  4. Diz permalink

    Well yeah two good points. First is the material from Mosby is worth it; there are lot of Abn/Ranger/Green Berets (this is how we start our day) out there teaching tactical shit; Mosby goes beyond that with a lot of practical advice for self-sufficient living. Second, I would rather subsidize his group than some outfit I have no clue about. That probably donates to the LGBTQ minority handicapped socialist workers party.

    Honestly this is nick-picking the fly shit. The only real criticism is he isn’t mass-marketed, cheap, and readily available. So if that keeps you from getting his info, you’re a dumbass. But not my problem.

  5. Big Mike permalink

    I agree with your response John. The books you have written are not available anywhere. As I read your books and worked thru the thought processes with your book Forging The Hero, I had to really make my brain work hard to comprehend and apply the principles to my life. I could understand and “feel the pain” of your efforts. I was hesitant to spend the money you requested for each book, but now I would pay $100 bucks for one because of the content.

  6. Jim Scrummy permalink

    Interesting take. Of course my take, is that when I purchased two of JM’s books, it was money well spent, because I go back and re-read certain passages from time to time. I like supporting people who not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. Still need to buy Vol. 1, to complete the set, which will be money well spent, again.

  7. lastmanstanding permalink

    The most painful part of TRP Vol. 1 was waiting the 2 months that it took FO to ship it…with absolutely no correspondence to occasional polite emails as to “what the fuck is going on”.

    Forging the Hero was ordered here and showed up less than a week later.

    Preparedness and self-sufficiency are a way of life for us.

    Frankly, your personal “fucking” footnotes alone are worth the price of each book.

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