By Major Van Harl
Wisconsin –-(Ammoland.com)- A press person recently asked Gen. James Mattis, the Secretary of Defense what keeps him up at night. Implying what worries him. His response was nothing keeps him up, his actions as the leader of the strongest military in the world keeps other people up at night.
What keeps me up at night is Franklin Horton and his books in the Borrowed World Series. First off Mr. Horton keeps me up late reading his books as fast as I can and second I tend to ponder and yes, worry about the story line of his books.
I spoke to Mr. Horton and in the conversation I advised him I thought his apocalyptic genre was “low tech” but it was by no means meant to be disrespectful or taken as a negative opinion of his work. In fact it was meant as a very strong comment of support of his writing.
I explained, I read many apocalyptic type books. What I find is, usually the author has done a lot of research on the “big picture” and does not want that effort to go unused. Some of the authors must pontificate and spend multiple opening chapters of their books telling the reader what is happening in the world. What the federal government is doing to react to the crisis. How the military, state and local police respond.
Mr. Horton cuts to the chase and in a few opening pages he tells his readers that the bad guys have attacked the nation's power grid. The electricity is down and that life in the US is coming to a screeching halt.
Many of the apocalyptic books deal with the “bug-out” concept of getting out of town as fast as possible and heading for the hills to survive. The other major genre is the “bug-in” concept of staying where you are, pre-stocked up on food and supplies and riding out the collapse of society.
Mr. Horton's focus is “bugging home,” a concept of what you will have to do to survive and return to your family if you are hundreds of miles away from home when the crisis kicks off. Sort of the idea of trapped behind enemy lines.
Mr. Horton's main character is on a business trip hundreds of miles from his home accompanied by fellow employees who cannot or will not quickly accept how instantaneously the world has turned for the worst and that they must immediately adapt, improvise and overcome adversity or die.
With no electricity there is no gas for the vehicles. North America is a culture that does not walk, it rides and if the fuel to drive a vehicle is gone there is a extremely hard learning curve for most of the people. If you are safe at home when the crisis starts you have a small window of opportunity to be overwhelmed, regroup your personal strategy, change the way you operate and maybe even survive a little longer.
However, if you are caught hundreds of miles away from home out in the open with nothing but a vehicle that has just run out of fuel and a passenger list of fellow employees / travelers who cannot grasp just how bad it is right away, you have life-challenging and life-changing problems. Challenges and changes that your fellow travelers are working hard to obfuscate the issues right in front of you. Not that these people are bad, they just do not “get it” fast enough.
When I said the book was “low tech” it was about the use of low tech tools and aids that help get the heroes of the story on the road to home with the least amount of death and destruction.
The personal “get home” back pack is the center of the tools and gadgets part of the first couple of Mr. Horton's books. Everyone has to be able to carry their own stuff. That stuff is food, water, guns & ammo, a good knife and the ability to start a fire. There are lots of other items a person will need but depending on weight if you are “bugging home” you have to make hard and fast decisions to jettison many valuable items, that are just not valued as a life supporting tool for a person on the run.
Women who want to learn about how bad it could be if you have to “bug home” need to read these books.
Mr. Horton did not start out designing strong, capable female characters in his books but that is what developed. The weak sisters die off and the strong ones excel and lead. Now do not get me wrong the weak men die off perhaps even faster because after they realize they are not prepared to survive they try to take from others. A young mother with three small children and a handgun will perhaps shoot a bit quicker than a male, to defend what little she has in a crisis, that there appears to be no end in sight.
Mr. Horton has developed a large female reading audience and I would suggest it is because of his strong female characters.
When I talk about low tech in Mr. Horton's books it is the technology of rifles & handguns, ammunition, basic food supplies, medical needs, limited communication devices, security, transportation, organizing group support and water.
Mr. Horton's main character, Jim, is a family man who really wants to be left alone in normal life but figures out quickly in a crisis you cannot do it alone. You have to have a group of like-minded people who truly get it and are prepared to react immediately and overcome the issues that could in fact kill you and get the rest of your family killed.
Nothing is easy from the moment the electricity is lost because of the terrorists. Everything is hard and everything only gets harder as the crisis goes on in time and the un-replaceable supplies are quickly used up. Because of alleged civility built into our non-violent day-to-day society here in North America, many of Mr. Horton's characters do not make it past the first few days. Jim tries to harden-up himself and tries to explain to his fellow victims of this crisis, they have to harden-up also.
Those who fail to harden-up fast enough die. That it is the underlining theme of Mr. Horton's books. Good guys die because they make bad decisions.
There are real world predictions that if the US loses the power grid and it does not come back on to a “normal” stage of power production and use, that only one in ten people will be alive one year later. Losing the electrical power grid will not put us back to the 1870s. There was steam power back then that did produce labor saving devices and mechanical transportation. We do not have steam powered tools like they used in the late 1800s
If we lose electricity for an extended time the US will be pushed back to the 1700s. Even in our modern world of high-tech tools, gadgets, and toys, sometimes low tech is the way to prepare for an emergency. It is hard to beat a good lever action Henry rifle, a well built revolver and a sharp field knife.
Mr. Horton's books are instructional training manuals that entertain. Buy, enjoy a good read, but most importantly learn. Learn how bad it will be and what you need to do to become a hardened survivor.
I just read an article written by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich where he was talking about the North Koreans using an EMP device to try to destroy our power grid. The threat is real. Mr. Horton's books are fiction but they are too close to reality. There are over 100,000 copies of Mr. Horton's books out there. Either in print or in a down-loadable format. If the other Horton readers are like me, they are passing on their Borrowed World Series of books to like minded people.
If you have a daughter attending university hundreds of miles away from home, you need to buy Locker Nine, read it yourself first and then give it to your daughter. Tell her there will be a quiz after she reads the book just to make sure she really paid attention.
Life is very hard on the unprepared in time of crisis and sadly evil singles out women to victimize when “911” and all that implies is not around to respond.
In time of real crisis the only two things of true value are food and firearms. A good third, is some training to survive, that you learn before the hammer hits.
Major Van Harl USAF Ret. / [email protected]
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]