Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath by Koppel

by Major Van Harl
Review of Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath by Ted Koppel

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Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath :
Major Van Harl USAF Ret
Major Van Harl USAF Ret

United States -( I do not sit around worrying about simultaneous nuke strikes on D.C. and Los Angeles. Nor do I worry about a pandemic outbreak of influenza that kills a third of North Americans.

Yes the above crises could happen. However, what really keeps me up at night or more likely messes with my sleeping mind and wakes me up way too early, is the US dollar crashing or the US power grid crashing. In case you think this might be an either-or situation, if the power goes, so goes your dollar, and if the dollar goes, very quickly the unpaid employees of the power system stop coming to work,,, then no electricity.

I do not care how much money you think you have. If your perceived personal dollars are not in paper money, non-silver coins, real silver, gold coins, ammo or some other first world country’s currency, when the electricity goes down you have no dollars. If you think because your last bank statement says you have one million dollars in the bank, remember it is only one million blips on a computer screen.

If you have a stack of US paper money stashed in your mattress do you have the foresight to figure out when the power first goes off that there is a good chance it may not be coming back on anytime soon? Are you predisposed to spend your cash real fast and maybe get ahead of the long term disaster effects? Take every bit of your soon to be worthless paper money and buy as much as you can in hard assets.

If someone tells you that they have to have a nice crisp $100 bill for a five gallon can of gas, give them the hundred dollars. By day two of no power you will be happy to pay $200 plus for the same five gallons of gas.

If you have not already acquired the guns and ammo that you will have to have to even attempt to survive, you will quickly discover that that was your number two worst mistake in your life (and it may be a short one). The number one mistake in planning to prepare for the dollar or the power to collapse, is not storing any water.

It takes electricity to pump, to make safe to drink and to distribute water. Without electricity the water stops. You may have a day or two if you know what to do when the lights go out, to capture some of the last few gallons still in the water lines.

Do you remember Ted Koppel from his forty two years with ABC News and his twenty five years as the anchor of the Nightline late evening TV show? Koppel was the son of German-Jewish refugees who fled the Nazis one step ahead of the gas chambers. He spent his early days living in England as it was being bombed by Hitler’s air force, bombings that cut off normal supplies of electricity, gas and water sometimes for months on end.

Koppel has a new book called Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving The Aftermath

Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath :
Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath :

He asked the question in his book, what if a cyber attack takes out the US power grid in part, or the entire electric system is shut down? What is a nation like the US, the richest country on earth, with the highest standard of living going to do, since it is so unprepared for the total loss of the power grid?

Unless you live in a mud hut in Africa, a cave in Afghanistan, or under a palm tree in the south Pacific no matter how poor or rich your homeland is, you lose your electricity and you just plain lose—and maybe lose your life.

Because of his broadcasting notoriety Koppel had access to Homeland Security senior leaders, FEMA management, Federal leadership, State leadership, the US military, and private preparedness organizations. No one could provide an iron clad plan on how to stop an attack on the US power grid that could shut the nation down. No one could tell what would happen if the power did not go back on after a couple of days off line, throughout the entire country.

One fatalistic prediction was that if the grid went down and did not come back up for a year, only one in every ten Americans would still be alive. The inability to move water to a thirsty nation would kill much faster than the discovery that the grocery store shelves were empty on day two of the crisis.

Nothing in Mr. Koppel’s book surprised me, but I have been researching and writing about this issue for the past ten plus years. I have however been recommending Lights Out to almost everyone I have been speaking with this past couple of weeks.

Koppel has done good work and asked a lot of very important questions in his book. The problem is there are very little in the way of reassuring answers on what to do when the power is finally cut to the masses. Expect the worst, expect cruelty, expect death and hold out for some hope. If you are holding out for some hope, and you did nothing to prepare, skip the hope part because you will go directly to the cruelty and death part very quickly. It may not be your death, but you will find it all around you.

First thing, read Koppel’s book, and then buy a gun if you do not own one. Buy lots of fresh ammo.

As Eugene in the Walking Dead TV series stated last week after the world was in its second full year of the zombie apocalypse “Not only are bullets vital for defense”—“A full cartridge is the coin of the land.”

Even if the US only looses power for 30-60 days you can figure (extrapolating from Koppel’s 12 month power outage death figure of 9 out of 10 dead) you will have 2-3 out of every 10 Americans dead by start of month three. The sick, the old, the lame and the lazy will go first and evil will rise up to take as many as it can. Water, firearms & ammo, food, a rocket stove, and the will to survive no matter what will be needed.

More importantly learn–learn how to do things to survive without electricity now before the power is gone.

No your government will not come and save you—do not even ask that question.

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About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:

Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School. A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI. His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training. He believes “evil hates organization.” [email protected]

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Just an observation: Ever notice that each generation since I can remember( I go back to 38) has had it’s doom and gloom scernario and the World has lost billions of souls by Disease, Famine, War and really stupid acts by mankind. The American people will suffer the worst because in the last 50 years we no longer know how to be even semi-independent from some form of Government help/interference. People in the third world will survive at higher rates since they are already surviving with little or nothing. My suggestion is to become as self contained as you can… Read more »

Wild Bill

Carl, as long as you have electricity, you can suck pure fresh water out of the atmosphere. Not a complete solution, but cheaper than drilling a well.


Thanks for this article. Even if it opens the eyes of just a few more Americans, and because of it they get a little bit more ready, it’s a good thing. I’m something of an expert on this subject. There really isn’t much I’d add to what you say in the above. I can share, that if/when it actually happens, the real event will not be exactly, or perhaps even, very much as it’s been depicted, even in great efforts. like the book, One Second After. This said, you’ll find that there is a predictable pattern to the disintegration of… Read more »

Hey Lou, which stores longer under optimum conditions canned beer or bottled bear? Also I’d like to read a little of your background experience.


Bottled beer. If you bottle bear just be sure to use a pressure canner.


“(extrapolating from Koppel’s 12 month power outage death figure of 9 out of 10 dead)”
These aren’t his numbers. The US EMP Commission came up with this number.


Scary numbers no matter who they come from.


Do what you can and remember there are those doing nothing. They are the ones you really have to worry about because in days they will come for what little you have or Uncle Sam will come as a criminal in the night.
Preppers will be called Hoarders and vilified like criminals. Only the ones prepared will survive and most of them will be slaughtered as well.


the only thing i would add is if you do prepare KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! keep it to yourself.

Matt in Oklahoma

Its a good read as is One Second After. These make you think and hopefully plan and better yet take action. Maybe not move off grid and go to the max but if you do I certainly don’t begrudge you lol

Wild Bill

Yes, “One Second After” is an eye opener. “Patriots” is another eye opener. Recommended reading, and lots of how to.


Add “Going Home” (by A. American) and Lights Out (by David Crawford) to that list. There is a sequel to “One Second After” but it is not as good as the first.


Great points, thanks! To your statement that “No, your government will not come and save you”, I would just add that it matters not one whit what jackass is in the White House at that point. That’s an important and sobering point we should all keep in mind.


It would be very instructive if at some of the current town halls going on this election year if the candidates were to be asked how they would handle an attack on the power grid that shut the system down for just a few weeks. If any readers here get that chance, please raise the question.