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Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life by…

Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life

by Neil Strauss

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Written by a patronizingly misogynist jerk who kind of knows he’s a jerk, this book first explores how to leave the US/get a different identity and citizenship, in case of the disaster he expects as America inevitably collapses (spoiler alert: have lots of money), then Strauss realizes that in any real disaster he’s not likely to be able to get on a plane. So he commits to more home-grown survival techniques, including general outdoorsmanship and hunting and dressing his own food. He asserts that “At one point in history, almost everyone was a survivalist. They knew how to hunt, farm, fight, and keep themselves and their families alive ….” Note the families? The thought of small communities of people in the EEA doesn’t seem to cross his mind, though he does protect his ability to survive all on his own, with no one’s help, by getting access to his parents’ cabin inherited from a grandfather.. I wish he’d talked more in the last half about how much money all this training and prep costs, as he did in the first half. He talks to lots of fringe survivalists, including “the world’s friendliest Nazi.” (Bet he would not be so friendly to me!). He goes to train to survive a firefight and one of his compatriots, a police officer, accidentally shoots an innocent, then jokes about how he’d just fix it in the report. He diagnoses these people as driven by fear, not strength—they’re afraid of blacks, of terrorists, of national parks where they can’t bring their guns even though there are bears there.

As for the jerkiness, it’s encapsulated in this sentence: “Like many in the industry, she had a brittleness to her, as if in order to succeed in a man’s world she had to sacrifice some of the softness and submission that serve as honey to men on a date but as weakness in an office.” (He also claims to have had sex with his girlfriend six times in one night/morning: yeah, right.) On other things, he’s more self-aware, as when he discusses his pre-9/11 collection of anti-American propaganda: “my collection was a symptom not of open-mindedness, but of the exact American naivete and arrogance that leads others to hate us in the first place.” An interesting part comes near the end, where he gets EMT and emergency response training—people who were preparing to use the system to save others when emergencies came, and he finally seems to see that working with others is both the best bet and the best choice. ( )
  rivkat | Oct 19, 2017 |
There are some interesting nuggets of information here, but most of the advice is impractical for the average person who doesn't have unlimited funds. ( )
  Gingermama | Jan 24, 2016 |
I was started reading this book as a skeptical reader, but the author has a good writing and really focus in his interesting path to be more confident in his ability to survive in a crisis situation. ( )
  NelsonFaria | Dec 5, 2015 |
Interesting book that is more memoir than how-to. Strauss interacts and ultimately befriends some of the most interesting survivalists out there. A lot of the information was new to me, and may someday help me. But I'm not quite ready to dig a bolt-hole in my back yard. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
Neil Strauss, probably most famous for his Motley Crue book the Dirt and his book about Pick-Up Artists, the Game, gets a little freaked out about the state of the world. Then he looks into it a little more and gets a lot freaked out, especially when he has to admit to himself that after a life lived in the city where a rolling blackout was the closest thing to the apocalypse so far, he is unprepared to survive any sort of calamity. So, throwing himself into his subject as usual, he decides to ...moreNeil Strauss, probably most famous for his Motley Crue book the Dirt and his book about Pick-Up Artists, the Game, gets a little freaked out about the state of the world. Then he looks into it a little more and gets a lot freaked out, especially when he has to admit to himself that after a life lived in the city where a rolling blackout was the closest thing to the apocalypse so far, he is unprepared to survive any sort of calamity. So, throwing himself into his subject as usual, he decides to do whatever it takes to prepare himself.

The writing style is good. Neil Strauss has a way of writing that pulls you through just about whatever he’s covering. However, if you’re looking for a good book about survivalists, becoming a survivalist, or some kind of survivalist manual, look somewhere else.

A lot of the book is devoted to his attempts to get dual citizenship so that he has somewhere to go WTSHTF (When the Shit Hits the Fan). These parts are not very exciting. They mostly serve to make you understand that it’s tough to get citizenship somewhere else, which is a little scary, but the ultimate answer is that you can get a second citizenship just about anywhere, the only factor being how much you are willing to spend. Fucked up, yes, but not terribly surprising. Because I don’t have a couple hundred thousand to spend (and I suspect most people don’t) I found those parts of the books pretty much worthless. It’s sort of like reading a book about a beginning chef who spends a shitload on ingredients that are way out of your price range. Other sections are more entertaining. It’s not so much that I was looking for survivalist tips, but reading about him going to a tracking school or spending a week without power and water is way more engaging than reading about how it sucks that shit is expensive and that the burecratic process in small island nations is very slow.

Other reviews say that he spends a good amount of time explaining the Why behind his wanting to learn survivalism. I would half agree with that. He does a good job highlighting events and policy changes that might make a person a little worried about living in the United States, explaining why he’s scared and why he thinks something bad might happen. What he doesn’t do (except for a brief section near the end) is explain the point of surviving in a wasteland.

When you read an apocalyptic book, like the Road, it has to occur to you that the main characters could just lay down and die. It does to me, anyway. But I never get to ask these fictional characters what keeps them moving, so the author has to make some attempt to explain it. In Emergency, I wanted to hear why someone would want to survive in an existence that most people, himself included towards the beginning, would consider hellish. Strauss was preparing himself to survive in the woods in a shelter made of sticks and leaves, but I don’t know why or what the point of that life might be. That was something I was looking for and didn’t get.

An unusual part of the book is that there is an armchair treasure hunt incorporated into it. There are short sections written in comic book form, and each of these sections includes a clue that is supposed to reveal the location of a cache that Strauss buried at one point in the book. Because I’m a dork, I spent a good hour trying to find the clues, figure out what they meant, and then figure out where the cache is. After that, I have no idea still. Okay, that’s not totally true. I have some idea, but nothing of confidence, so I’ll let you all know when I find the damn thing because now it’s an obsession. I bet my girlfriend will appreciate taking a vacation to some woods to unbury a box, especially when I don’t have the right spot and we spend three days digging holes.

The first thing I’d heard of like this was buried in David Blaine’s book. Supposedly there were clues hidden throughout that would lead you to $100,000 worth of treasure. And supposedly some lady found it. You can see the solution here: http://www.thefoolsparadise.com/db/solut...
To be honest, the whole thing is way too involved for me to even consider the possibility, and I question whether someone actually solved it or not. There’s a photo blog by the person who solved it, which seems pretty convenient as well, especially the part where she gives up when she’s almost there and then sees something on her drive home that gives her a Eureka! moment straight out of some Sherlock Holmes bullshit. Call me crazy, but I don’t trust someone who stands around in a block of ice and spends way too much time maintaining his beard and not nearly enough on those eyebrows.

On a similar books/treasure hunt path, there was and still is a circulating rumor that there is a secret ending to Chuck Palahniuk’s Survivor which is embedded in the hardback back cover of some first edition copies.

The rumor has never proven true, from what I can tell. Maybe it’s a ploy by someone with a few first editions to try and rarify it and drive up the value. Although I can’t personally prove it either way, I have to believe that someone who found it wouldn’t be against providing photographic or textual evidence. But it’s kind of a cool rumor anyway.

So, pick up Emergency if you’re looking for an entertaining read and that’s about it. If you get through the first couple sections with no problems, then you’ll only build up speed from there. ( )
  helpfulsnowman | Jan 18, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060898771, Paperback)

Book Description

Terrorist attacks. Natural disasters. Domestic crackdowns. Economic collapse. Riots. Wars. Disease. Starvation.

What can you do when it all hits the fan?

You can learn to be self-sufficient and survive without the system.

**I've started to look at the world through apocalypse eyes.** So begins Neil Strauss's harrowing new book: his first full-length worksince the international bestseller The Game, and one of the most original-and provocative-narratives of the year.

After the last few years of violence and terror, of ethnic and religious hatred, of tsunamis and hurricanes–and now of world financial meltdown–Strauss, like most of his generation, came to the sobering realization that, even in America, anything can happen. But rather than watch helplessly, he decided to do something about it. And so he spent three years traveling through a country that's lost its sense of safety, equipping himself with the tools necessary to save himself and his loved ones from an uncertain future.

With the same quick wit and eye for cultural trends that marked The Game, The Dirt, and How to Make Love Like a Porn Star, Emergency traces Neil's white-knuckled journey through today's heart of darkness, as he sets out to move his life offshore, test his skills in the wild, and remake himself as a gun-toting, plane-flying, government-defying survivor. It's a tale of paranoid fantasies and crippling doubts, of shady lawyers and dangerous cult leaders, of billionaire gun nuts and survivalist superheroes, of weirdos, heroes, and ordinary citizens going off the grid.

It's one man's story of a dangerous world–and how to stay alive in it.

Before the next disaster strikes, you're going to want to read this book. And you'll want to do everything it suggests. Because tomorrow doesn't come with a guarantee...

Questions for Neil Strauss

Amazon.com: What initially inspired you to write Emergency?

Strauss: It happened over the last eight years, watching as everything that we thought could never happen in America suddenly started happening. So I decided to take control over my own life, rather than being dependent on an increasingly undependable system, and worked toward becoming as self-sufficient, independent, skilled, and experienced as I could. That journey continues today.

Amazon.com: You use the term "Fliesian" in the book (as in Lord of the Flies). What is a Fliesian?

Strauss: Someone who believes that people, if put in a world where there are no consequences to their actions, will do horrible things.

Amazon.com: So how can we hold on to our kindness and humaneness in a crisis?

Strauss: Fortunately, in my experience, it is precisely these situations when you see the best in people come out. The worst in some tends to arise only when the resources one needs to survive are scarce and there is competition for them.

Amazon.com: Do you think that this book is catering to a fear-based culture?

Strauss: Actually, the book is less about spreading fears than getting over them. What most of us fear is the unknown, and we fret about what’s going to happen in an uncertain future when we consider the calamities of the past. I decided to no longer react to the things I read in newspapers, but instead to understand them. So I took each worst-case scenario to the extreme, and experienced many of the things that used to make me anxious. I guess, in that way, it was like a more interesting, adventurous Prozac.

Amazon.com: A lot of writers these days are basing books on various year-long stunts: read the encyclopedia for a year, always say "yes" for a year, have sex with your wife every day for a year. But your brand of immersion journalism, in Emergency and in The Game, is more open-ended--and more personal--than that. Do you draw any sort of line between the books and your life?

Strauss: My books never begin as books. They usually begin as some sort of lack I recognize in my life and try to fix with the help of the most qualified experts I can find. Often, these people are not in the public eye, but hidden in a splinter subculture. And while I’m trying to get taken under their wing, I realize at some point I’m spending so much time trying to learn and improve that I might as well have something to show for it, so I write a book.

Amazon.com: One of the first subcultures you embedded yourself in was a cabal of billionaires. Are wealthy people safer than the rest of us?

Strauss: No, they’re more scared than the rest of us. That’s why they’re taking so many precautionary measures. They are defined by their money, and now that identity is crumbling around them. You can’t buy safety. Those who are the most safe are the ones with knowledge, skills, and experience.

Amazon.com: You describe the philosophy of the sphincter in Emergency. What is that?

Strauss: I learned that from one of my defense instructors. The basic idea is that, in a high-pressure situation, the first thing that happens is people get nervous and uptight. And as soon as your sphincter tightens, as the metaphor goes, it cuts off circulation to your brain. So one of the best survival skills you can have is the ability to quickly and coolly assess a situation rather than panicking and doing something stupid.

Amazon.com: From your wilderness survival training, it sounds like you're in pretty good shape if things ever hit the fan. But what if you live in the city?

Strauss: That’s a good point. A lot of the wilderness survival skills I learned don’t take into account that, in America today, there’s little actual wilderness left. So I took a class called Urban Escape and Evasion. As the teacher put it, “Once you learn lockpicking, the world is your oyster.” He also taught car hot-wiring, evading pursuit vehicles, and, as an exam, handcuffed me, put me in a trunk, and told me I had to escape. It was one of the most interesting classes I’d taken in my life. If I’d known these skills in high school, I definitely would have been expelled.

Amazon.com: The book has a surprising trajectory--surprising to the reader and I think to you as well. You start out looking for a way to get out of Dodge if one of many possible disasters strikes, but as you develop your survival skills, instead of becoming a lone wolf in the woods, you start becoming tied to your community, as an EMT and a trained crisis management worker (not to mention a goat midwife). It's actually pretty heartwarming. Did you see any of that coming?

Strauss: Definitely not. I had no idea that when disasters happen now, instead of running away from them, I’d be running toward them and trying to be of some use to the community. I think that, if there’s a silver lining in the dark cloud that is the economy right now, it’s that hard times bring people closer together. Now is the time to get to know your neighbors. You never know when you may need them.

Amazon.com: Has your experience writing Emergency affected you differently from your experience writing The Game?

Strauss: Yes, because now, at 3 a.m. on a Saturday night, my search-and-rescue pager will go off and I’ll have to stop doing what I learned in The Game and start doing what I learned in Emergency.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:31 -0400)

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The author shares the adventure of his whimsical pursuit of a passport and a second citizenship in another part of the world, an effort fraught with shady lawyers, government corruption, and vigilante billionaires.

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Canongate Books

2 editions of this book were published by Canongate Books.

Editions: 1847675271, 1847677606

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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