/> a mother's heart » Blog Archive » One Second After: a review (and its aftermath)

One Second After is a novel by William Forstchen and is possibly one of the best books you’ve never read.

Forstchen sets the stage in a quiet, almost Norman Rockwellian-town in North Carolina and follows the story of a family and the town’s members through an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack that disables everything electronic and/or computer-chip dependent nationwide.

The book is well-written and the details were enough to hook me in the first few pages; I soon wanted to keep reading and find out what happened to John Matherson and his family, comprised of his two daughters and in-laws, having lost his wife to cancer years prior.

To say that this book is a cautionary tale is an understatement:  the book’s premise is more than real-life and completely scary – at any point, enemies of our country could readily launch nuclear warheads that don’t hit land and create the scenario I learned in junior high, namely one of nuclear destruction and fallout, but that explode in the stratosphere and leave no nuclear destruction on the ground.  The resulting electromagnetic pulse, however, would take out anything and everything electrical, computer-driven, and/or that hasn’t been “hardened off.”  The enemies would destroy our country without laying a hand on us; as society collapses upon itself, we would destroy ourselves for them.  We are a country of consumers with very little knowledge of how to care for ourselves without the creature comforts our 21st century existence provides.

Think about it:  it’s one thing to not have an iPod or Android phone that works.  But your stove wouldn’t work, your refrigerator wouldn’t work.  Neither would your freezer, your car, your light switches, or your watch.  No clocks, no heat, no air conditioning.  If you live in the country and have a well, no water will be dispensed, as most wells have electric pumps.  Most of us don’t have an ability to withstand this sort of hardship, much less feed our families and sustain our livelihoods.  Your money would be unavailable for an extent of time – we are about as close to a cashless society as possible, and most of us use debit cards to withdraw monies from our accounts, pay for things, and generally make life easier.  But without computers…. Well, the picture ain’t pretty.

And God-forbid that you have a disease which is kept in check with medicine on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.  Without refrigeration, diabetics dependent upon insulin would die quickly – the insulin would be rationed and loses potency without refrigeration.  Nursing home patients would succumb to disease and pass quickly as well, which after reading the scenarios in the book, is a merciful thing.  Hospitals only have so much ability to run on reserves, and because very few vehicles will run after an EMP (those which have carburetors and no fuel injection will turn over), there is very little way to get supplies – not to mention that communication lines will be down, so calling for supplies is next to impossible.

It’s truly a dim picture when you consider the far-reaching effects of something like an EMP and how it would disable our country and society.

I’ll be honest:  I read this book as part of an online-read-along for one of my preparedness groups (at Food Storage Made Easy), and  I almost didn’t read it.  Sometimes, my ever-fertile mind and imagination can take things I read or see and expound upon them to a point of panic.  I really, really didn’t want to have a knee-jerk reaction or live my life in fear.  These are unproductive things for me and I choose to live without them.

But I did find myself considering my food storage and preparedness plans a little differently after reading this.  A Sun Oven is definitely on my  To Procure List, as is a hand-powered grain mill.  I’ve looked in to making a Faraday cage and have looked at finding a hand-crank radio, some batteries, and some long-range walkie talkies to keep in the Faraday cage, protecting these items from the effects of an EMP.  There’s a guy in our apartment complex who drives a really cool, old truck – a Ford, circa 1940.  That beast would easily turn over and be functional after an EMP, but I confess that my own beloved Elsa would impotent after such an event.

There are some things that I simply can’t predict or prepare for – but if I can protect my family and friends at least in part, my preparations are worthwhile.  I still choose not to live in fear, but this book has really given us food for thought and changed how we consider our preventative planning.

Even if you never have plans to build a food storage, I highly recommend this book.  It’s compelling, the story is engaging, and most likely, your heartstrings will be tugged before the end.  You will not look at your life the same way after reading it – which in the case of most Americans today, is a very good thing.

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