Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Disaster Diaries

Sam Sheridan

Anyone who has read my review of The Fighter's Mind knows that I'm a big fan of acclaimed fight author Sam Sheridan. His willingness to boldly throw himself into the most treacherous situations in order to experience the full spectrum of human experience lends a genuine honesty to everything he writes. I make no qualms about believing that, in this way, he is a modern day Ernest Hemingway (minus the rampant alcoholism).

He continues this tradition in his most recent release, Disaster Diaries: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Apocalypse, where he attempts to quiet the fear which plagues every father and husband: the fear that if disaster strikes, he will be unable to protect the ones he loves. He begins the book plagued by his knowledge of the fragility of “the grid” (the complex safety net that modern society provides us), and by the lack of survival skills many people have should it ever fail. In response, he takes off on a journey around the world, learning the survivalist tools of the trade. Shooting (both for hunting and defense), knife-fighting, primitive wilderness skills (no steel tools allowed), and knowing how to both highjack a car and drive like a master stuntman (should you be chased by zombies, and/or raiders, and/or alien zombie raiders) are all a part of his journey to self-reliance. He even touches on the oft-forgotten mental aspect, the ability to exist within a post-apocalyptic environment while still maintaining your sanity being an essential skill unto itself.

I really enjoyed this book. As always, Sheridan has a way of balancing respectful reverence with accessibility. He makes no qualms about the immense levels of patience, commitment, and fortitude it takes to develop these skills, but at the same time lets you know that if a person is willing to put in the time and effort, your average Joe can (and by all means should) learn them. You're right there along with Sam as he makes the difficult—and sometimes painful—transition from a  world that provides stability and sustenance to one where situational awareness and the ability to improvise with the most sparse resources can mean making it for another twenty-four hours. It's a hell of an adventure, and one which I recommend every curious reader go on.

- Vincent Smith
Vincent Smith is a taoist, aspiring writer, and dyed-in-the-wool psychology geek at the University of Guelph. You can find his writing on video games, comics, movies, and all things geek over at The Rogue's Gallery.      

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