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From the Library

June 24, 2019

1) Tribe by Sebastian Junger

I’ve tried, heartily, to ignore this book. I suspected, based on all the reports and reviews of it that I had seen, and the title, that I was going to hate it. I suspected it was going to be another in a long line of attempts to turn those of us who have been to war, into victims. “Woe is the returned warrior. He suffers so from his guilt.

A couple weeks ago (months ago?), a reader contacted me via email, and asked if he could gift me a copy. He’d read it, after his wife had insisted, for what sounded like months, and really appreciated it, and wanted to send me a copy. I said sure. I really expected it to end up going on my shelves, and sitting there for several more months before I ever bothered even cracking it open.

Then, last week, while my wife was out of town, I had a few minutes in the evening. The older kids were in bed, and I was holding the baby, trying to get him to go to sleep. The only book within reach was this one, so I grabbed it, and started reading.

When the baby finally fell asleep, I tucked him into bed, and then crawled into bed myself…and finished reading the book at 0400.

This book pleasantly surprised me. There were a couple of minor things I disagreed with Junger about, most of which were, I believe cultural differences between someone raised in an urban middle class neighborhood and someone raised in the rural southern mountains, but overall, I agreed with him.’

The crux of his argument, as I understood it—again, there could be cultural differences that led to my misunderstanding—was that, the inability of a lot of GWOT veterans to reintegrate into society, which leads some of them into depression and even suicide, is almost entirely a product of having been to war, and having that opportunity to see people at their best (and worst, yes), and then having to return to an inherently dysfunctional society that operates completely contrary to the norms for which we have developed.

He covered a lot of the themes I discussed in Forging the Hero, from an entirely different angle. I really, really liked this book. Even if I wasn’t a veteran, his analysis and discussion of how fucked up our society is, and the reasons why it is so fucked up, would have been useful to me (if I wasn’t already aware of them).

Highly recommended. If you’re a veteran, and have any sort of reintegration issues, highly, highly, highly recommended. It’s not you. It’s society.

2) Lifeline by Catherine McGuire

So, this one is post-Apocalyptic fiction, set in a future 50 years after a CME knocks the US “backwards.” It’s told from the perspective of a resident of NYC. He was raised on a small farming commune that supports the City, and then ran away at 14, spent 5 years surviving in gangland wars on the borderlands of the City, before getting a job for the Communications Corporation in the City.

The story is about a mission he is sent on to liaise with outlying community leaders to set up radio towers in their communities. In trade for securing those towers, the local community will be allowed access to the communications abilities provided by the towers.

Of course, being a novel, there has to be tension and drama, so in the avoidance of plot spoilers, we’ll just say, the mission doesn’t turn out the way he expects, and he learns some interesting things about both the City, and his view of the world, as a citizen of the City, when he is forced to deal with the folks who have sustained and created communities outside of the City.

One of the issues I’ve found, with post-Apocalyptic fiction is that it falls into two distinct categories. One if the Rawlesian Approach, where a packing list is—rather ineptly, to be honest—disguised as a story. This has the benefit of providing a really good basis for understanding what kind of stuff you should be stockpiling to be prepared for the kind of adventures the protagonists in those catalogues….err….stories….have. Sadly, there is an entire generation of preppers and survivalists who believe Patriots was the first post-Apocalyptic prepper novel (to be clear, lest someone think I am badmouthing Jim, or saying his stuff isn’t worth reading, I’m not. I’ve read every single one of his books. Let’s be real though. While the catalogue thing has gotten a little bit better over the years, they’re still very much “you need this and this and this” and “Deus Vult!”).

The fact is, there’s a long line of amazingly well-done post-Apocalyptic fiction. Some of it, like Alas, Babylon!, (Pat Frank) and Farnam’s Freehold (the inestimable Robert Heinlein) are almost “typical” prepper porn. Others, like A Canticle for Leibowitz, Riddley Walker, and Malevil, are literary looks at what might happen to society AFTER a collapse. Not in the immediate, but several generations after.

This novel falls into that category. Like I said, it’s set 50 years post-CME, so most of the main characters don’t remember “before,” but there are still survivors who lived through the events. The relationships developed between the youth and the survivors is an interesting dynamic to think about. More importantly, in my mind, is the difference in mindset required to read, say Lifeline, and Patriots.

In the typical Prepper Porn fiction, the underlying belief is always present that, “Yeah, things are gonna get bad for a while. But, fuck man, we’re AMERICA! We’ll come out of it on the other end, bigger, stronger, and more technologically advanced! Team America! Fuck yeah!

The theme of the multi-generational tales however, is more along the lines of, “Think about this. If shit gets as bad as we think it’s going to, there’s a lot of unintended consequences that are going to occur. It won’t ‘recover’ in two or three generations, if ever.

This is one of the things I discussed a lot in The Reluctant Partisan, Volume Two, and especially in Forging the Hero. Rather than thinking about prepping for “Well, if the CME/EMP/Plague hits, we need to be able to sustain for 6 months/1 year/5 years, and then things will get back to normal!” We need to be thinking about—Hell, recognizing period—that, this is the new normal, unless it just gets worse in our lifetime. There is no “going back.” Between resources that are no longer available in the quantities and ease they once were, to cultural changes that are more likely than not, not going to be reversed, this IS the new normal, and people would get a lot further ahead—and be able to deal with things a lot more resolutely, if they recognized and acknowledged that.

This is a BIG, thick novel, at almost 600 pages. I will admit, I’m only halfway through it so far, but I’ve really, really enjoyed it. With the caveat that I’m only halfway through, this is—so far—highly recommended.

3) American Nations by Colin Woodard

Subtitled, A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, this book is sort of a relative to David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seeds, which I’ve mentioned before on this blog (and also recommend!). Originally published in 2011, it does a rather successful job of shattering the national myth of American political hegemony, not only during the Colonial and Revolutionary periods, but since as well.

I actually had this discussion with my mother the other day, when she made some crack about how America would be better if it was all WASP. When I pointed out that she was neither Anglo-Saxon (my mother is of German and Welsh descent, with some Scots on her mother’s side. My Anglo-Saxon, along with my Irish and Scandinavian, comes from my father’s side) nor Protestant, she had to stop and think for a moment, before retracting her statement.

The National Myth is that we started out as 13 largely homogenous WASP cultured colonies, many of the residents of which emigrated from England to avoid persecution by the Anglican Church. Like Fischer’s Seeds of Albion, Woodard does a good job, using original source material, to disprove this myth.

Of course, one of the things I pointed out in Forging the Hero is that myths, even national myths, are important cultural lodestones. We NEED those myths, to forge solidarity and build frith within the innangarth. As long as the culture is holding strong, there’s really not much point, except for historians, to pointing out the shortcomings in those myths. The problem arises when that culture is faltering, and those people on the outer edges of the culture—the ones who recognize it is faltering—cannot let go of the myths. When the myth is obviously, demonstrably, in-your-face, false, but you insist on holding onto the myths as sacred and true, you suffer from what is known as “cognitive dissonance.” It leads to a world of troubles, both practical and psychological.

We are seeing a lot of that in the current socio-political spectrum, from both sides of the aisle. If you want to start getting past that cognitive dissonance, and be able to recognize the inaccuracies from both sides of the Establishment Political field, this book, along with Albion’s Seeds, is a good place to start.

This one is probably an easier read, and it is considerably faster to read (386 pages, versus 946 pages for Albion’s Seeds). Recommended.

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11 Comments
  1. anonymous permalink

    I haven’t read that last book, but it sounds rather similar to Thomas Chittum’s book CIVIL WAR II – THE COMING BREAK-UP OF AMERICA. The book is a list of populations of America by region which explain the fractures and where new borders may possibly be. Not just racial differences but urban vs. rural attitudes play a part as well.

    I sort of thought it was pure fantasy at the time, but the list he predicted of what would occur prior to this fracture was spot on. Kind of spooky.

    Thanks for the reviews above.

  2. Bradford C Joy permalink

    Very good documentary by Junger

  3. Diz permalink

    Yeah I wuz wondering what you would think about Junger’s book. He essentially says the same things, from a different perspective. A different road, but still leads to Rome.

    Yeah Prepper porn has gotten way out of hand, ever since JWR did his thing. They used to be so far and in between that I’d read damn near anything; now I can’t make it through damn near any of it. Good point about the mindset of accepting the new norm, versus just weathering the storm, type of thing.

    Being a military brat, I hadn’t really thought about this anglo-thing; I mean I basically grew up in the mil-spec cradle that he (Junger) talks about, then a tour in the Crotch, so yeah it was always this big melting pot for me. When I got out I stayed reserves for awhile, so the brethren were never too far away. It was only this last stint, where I’m not near a mil-Town that I’m really seeing the fragmentation of ethnic groups really develop, post Obama (may he burn in hell). Having a common goal in the service really helped, as far as race relations went. But take that away, and you get these fractures. It’s like “Animal Mother” in FMJ: he’s OK as long as someone is shooting and throwing grades at him. So yeah it’s not so much a surprise, as a disappointment, but I’m under no delusions that we wuz always this big happy family.

  4. 4hawks permalink

    https://www.amazon.com/No-Surrender-My-Thirty-Year-War-ebook/dp/B00GF2RCGW LOL,doom porn and shopping lists generated by more doom porn.

  5. CDG permalink

    I’m pretty sure I have a copy of The Nine Nations of North America from back in the 80’s that premises that a United States isn’t so united. I’ll check out American Nations.

    And Jerry Ahern’s Survivalist series. All I’m saying.

  6. I read Tribes the other day, and it’s spot on. I fought in Ar-Ramadi (M240B Gunner with 1-503d Infantry) in 04-05 and I heard alot of myself in Junger’s words.

    If you’re a Vet, read it…. It’ll explain some shit.

  7. How co I get ahold of John Mosby besides the email in regards to book orders? I have emailed twice with no responses.

    • That’s because I only check my emails once a week, and last week I didn’t get to it. Sorry. I have since responded to your email.

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  1. From Mosby | Western Rifle Shooters Association
  2. Links to Prepping plus. : :: United Patriots of America ::

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