Showing posts with label Philipines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Philipines. Show all posts

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Book Review: Expatriates by Jim Rawles

Today it is my pleasure to review Expatriates: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse by Jim Wesley Rawles. Like Jim' other novels Patriots, Survivors and Founders this one takes place during the same chaotic period of time set ominously in 'the not so distant future.'

Here is the promo blurb
In the latest survivalist thriller from founder of survivalblog.com and New York Times bestselling author James Wesley, Rawles, two expat families struggle for their very survival in the midst of a global economic collapse.

When the United States suffers a major socioeconomic collapse, a power vacuum sweeps the globe. A newly radicalized Islamic government rises to power in Indonesia, invades the Philippines, East Timor, Papua New Guinea, and finally northern Australia. No longer protected by American military interests, Australia must repel an invasion alone.

In the thick of these political maneuvers, an American family of missionaries living in the Philippines and a Texan petroleum engineer in Australia must face the fear of being strangers in a world in flux. Are their relatives back home healthy and safe? Will they ever see them again?


In its depiction of the authentic survivalist skills and techniques needed to survive a global socioeconomic meltdown, Expatriates is as informative as it is suspense-filled.

The novel follows 3 groups; on  a family of Christian missionaries living in the Philippines, a  Texas oilman and some Australian folks he gets intertwined with and a family that run a hardware store in Florida. Like the previous books in the series it sort of flashes between the different groups in a generally chronological order.

Onto the usual format.

The Good: I really feel like Jim Rawles turned a corner in his writing with this book. Maybe it is personal development or learning from the last couple. Maybe it's some change in the editorial process or the slippers Jim wore while writing, I don't know. Regardless whatever it was should be kept the same for all of Jim's future writing. This book went a long way to address my (and some other folks) biggest criticisms of the Jim's last 2 fiction books that they jumped around too much and sometimes there were fairly long passages or even characters that didn't really tie into anything.

Expatriates keeps the multiple characters in different places format but this time it really works. The passages on an individual group are a bit longer so it flows better. Instead of reading 5 pages about Group A then 7 about Group B you will see more like (I didn't count it out so this is a rough guess) 20 on Group A then 14 on Group B. The overall result was a lot fewer transitions which made for a book that flowed much better. This was definitely a sustain.

The other good part is that everything tied together. The writing in this book seemed more intentional than in some previous books. There was not a point where I found myself thinking "Why am I reading this passage?" Everything fit in nicely and stayed on track. This added to my overall enjoyment of the reading experience.

Using the massive audience of Survival Blog Jim is able to bring in real world practical knowledge that surpasses what any one individual could possible accumulate. He can lean on 3 people who live in an area and another 4 who have decades of experience in whatever. I suspect this strongly helped with being realistic about technical details and the settings in the book. In particular, without getting too into spoiler territory this book has some very interesting stuff on taking long ocean voyages in relatively small boats and home/ small business security to continue operations in a dangerous environment. I found myself taking some mental notes on both of these topics. This authenticity/ factual correctness and high level of detail across a wide variety of areas really helps make the book useful, even for someone who has read his previous books.

As it's been awhile since I read Jim Rawles other fiction novels I found myself appreciating that these books nature is that they stand alone. You don't need to remember where one book ended to enjoy another. While continuations of the same theme they involve different places and characters. There is occasional overlap but you do not have to read Patriots to understand Survivors or either to get Founders or the newest in the series Expatriates. A person could pick up any of the books to read and enjoy as a stand alone novel.

Expatriates is by far the best written of Jim Wesley's fiction efforts and clearly the best of the Patriots sequels. It kept the interesting and plausible concepts of previous books but was wrapped in a far more readable package. I can see it gaining considerable traction in the adventure type circles; especially for folks who like a good read sans unnecessary gratuitous sex, profanity and graphic violence.

The Bad:

The only part I found a bit of a stretch was the non survivalist hardware store owners who happened to conveniently have a variety of unique characteristics in their home/ store setup AND lives that left them better set up than most survivalists. It was just a couple too many convenient things to be realistic without them making intentional choices in that direction.  Also it was probably implausible that the guy did all this other stuff and had a whole bunch of silver but didn't have a fighting rifle. Way more folks own an AR/ AK/ .308 battle rifle than own a couple hundred dollars face in 90% silver.

The Pre 1899 gun thing came up again albeit in the same gun ban as previous books. Again I have to say the idea that basically every modern gun could be banned yet this loophole would be carried over is just silly. While they do have a unique benefit TODAY if everything is being banned you would be far better off hiding/ fighting/ whatever with modern guns. A far more prudent course of action would be to buy a Glock/ Sig/ M&P/ 1911 and AK/ AR/ .308 with cash via a private party, maybe even get a spare set to stash away. Sure if you live in a totally anti gun area or like collecting old guns rock on but stash some modern defensive guns just in case.

The Ugly:

I wish whatever clicked to make this book such an easy, enjoyable fluid read happened earlier.

Overall Assessment:
Excellent book that is well worth the money. Folks who may have been turned off of Jim Rawles fiction would be well advised to give this book a shot as I think they will be pleasantly surprised.

Please wait till the 1 October Book Bomb Day to buy your copy of Expatriates!!!

Disclosure: I received an early copy of Expatriates to review. Also fundamentally Jim Rawles has been very good to me and my blogging efforts over the years. Not quite a mentor parse but more like that cool guy at the range who lets you always lets you shoot his cool new toy which you get to shoot and has the tool/ item you need but forgot to bring. How much that clouds my judgement on the matter I cannot say but there it is.

Buy your own copy of Expatriates on 1 October Book Bomb Day!!!



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thoughts On Insurgencies #8: Fundamentals of a Successful Insurgencies 101

It became apparent to me after a discussion with an invisible that I needed to take a step back in this series. Sometimes I am guilty of forgetting that most folks here have not spent a good portion of their live training for or being personally involved in an insurgency. We should discuss the fundamentals of a successful insurgency.

I am not saying that every insurgency must have each of these elements or it will not be successful. There are a certainly examples out there which do not fit every criteria but most tend to fit them if loosely. In no particular order.

Obviously some group or subset of a state needs to be unhappy with the current governmental system. Not just kinda unhappy but enough so to fight a war they may well die in. Taking a step back it isn't so much that there need to be people willing to take up arms but conditions that lead to people being willing to take up arms.

Some of these people will be active fighters. For every active fighter there are a few supporters or axillary types helping make things work.  These folks are involved to varying degrees. Some are full time intel, logistics or C2 types filling your conventional staff functions. Others may be a farmer who gives an old cow to feed some fighters or a Grandma with a big house who loves to feed and look after a bunch of teenage and early 20 something boys. For every person who actively aids insurgents they need a bunch of people who just keep quiet. The neighbor who sees something and goes about his business or the apathetic local cop who doesn't search for insurgents very hard.

For an insurgency to build from an initial nucleus to a group that has a real chance the government has to have problems. Maybe it is a backwards corrupt nepotistic regime, maybe it is an aging dysfunctional empire, maybe the economy is toast or the government is distracted by war. The reason for this is that functional governments can eventually use the stick and or carrot to decrease the total amount of people willing to take up arms. Eventually this makes insurgencies peter out until an 'acceptable level of violence' which varies from place to place. There are bombings and high amounts of murders in a lot of places but that is just normal.

Some sort of a safe haven is very helpful for insurgents. This safe haven is very important for insurgents to train, rest and plan and conduct a variety of logistical efforts. These safe havens can be due to political boundaries the insurgents can cross that the opposing force is unable to cross at least in a widespread regular way. Vietnam as well as the Pakistan/ Afghanistan border are good examples of this. Other times a safe haven can be due to an area's isolation in terms of rough geography, lack of improved all weather roads and low population densities. Areas outside aside from the AF/PAK border in Afghanistan fall into this category. The longtime Philippine insurgency  and the FARK in the jungles of Columbia are also examples.

Without this safe haven motivated governments can eventually wear down an insurgent group or at least prevent them from regrouping, recovering and training. This means they are not healing up injured fighters or training new ones which makes it hard to build numbers and win. Some sort of a (relative) safe haven is just about impossible for insurgents to do without.

Outside assistance is very important. It is cool to think about a bunch of guys running to the hinter boonies with rifles and fighting the big mean government but it is just not that simple. To keep things going insurgents need money, weapons, ammunition, food, medicine and often outside training. Admittedly money can handle most of those problems if the insurgents can get enough of it. For a long time during the good old Cold War a group could pretty much bet on assistance from whichever side didn't have a relationship with the regime they are trying to topple. Since the Cold War has ended it has become a lot more dicey but wide open. Islamic groups can get solid funding from various Gulf State groups. Other folks may have relationships that work for various reasons.

Those are the big ones that come to mind based on my formal and informal education on the topic as well as real world experiences. As always input is welcome but please try to keep it on topic. I hope that some of you get something out of this post.

Have a nice day,
Ryan


Sunday, February 14, 2010

I Can Haz Urban Legend Demotivator

Hat Tip to Bonifaces Treatise.

Edited to include. Could well be an urban legend. Personally I wasn't tromping around the Philippines with the guy in the very early 20th Century so I don't know. Either way its sort of a fun demotivator so I will keep it up. 
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