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A Review of William Forstchen’s One Second After

Dan’s note: this is a life-changing book. It has gotten a tremendous number of people to awake themselves and get into prepping. You can get One Second After on in either hardcover or as eBook. Now, let’s see what all the fuss is about…

This fictional story takes place in Black Mountain, a small college town in North Carolina, located along a major interstate highway in such a way that its claim to fame is that it provides water to the main city of Asheville. Black Mountain has become a summer getaway for urban dwellers looking to escape the city rat race and is home to about 600 college students during the school year.

John Matherson is the primary character of the novel. When his wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he retired from his job as a U.S. Army colonel, and moved the entire family back to Black Mountain. He took a job as a history professor at the local college. She died in her hometown, surrounded by those she had known her entire life, leaving him widowed with two daughters.

On one afternoon in May, some four years after his wife’s death, the phone lines, electrical lines, everything goes dead, without any warning whatsoever. Initially there is very little panic from residents who believe it to be just a short-term power outage. Upon realizing that all of the cars, except his mother-in-law’s old Edsel, a Ford mustang, and a few old VW’s have also died on the spot, Matherson begins to suspect an EMP attack.

The author then proceeds to detail events and realizations that would occur following such an attack. Initially families not overly concerned, believing the power will come back on within hours or days. The failure on the part of the town government to believe the power outage was long-term allowed for looting of the stores after the first week and other desperate acts that later turned out to be detrimental to the long-term survival of the entire community.

Those who were thought to be covered by the use of generators are also struggling as the EMP wiped out the generators as well. The nursing home filled with elderly patients needing round the clock care becomes a virtual breeding ground for disease as staff deserts it and patients die off within the first week. Diseases that were eradicated long ago in the United States return due to poor hygiene, lack of sterilization measures, and a dwindling supply of antibiotics.

worm farming

Food and availability of medications becomes a very pressing issue very quickly. The local pharmacist determines that community residents’ dependent on daily doses of medication for dialysis, diabetes, and other health issues will begin to die within the first month. Matherson’s own daughter is a type I Diabetic at risk if the power outage lasts longer than the four or five month supply he is able to secure for her.

Very few residents know how to plant crops and its late in the Spring when this occurs so the only food they could grow wouldn’t be ready for months. Outsiders that were stranded on the interstate being to pour into the community and eventually the town must train and arm its college students to battle the outsiders and protect the town from invasion. Food rationing is implemented and even with that system, families are forced to eat their own pets in order to survive.

It’s a fiction novel but the scary part is that it is not over the top. As you read, you think about your own town, the local nursing home and people in your family that are medication dependent. It really makes you think, “hey this could happen” someday. Honestly, it’s a very realistic portrayal of what could happen if an EMP or several were to explode over the Earth.

The story and plot for the book are amazing and thought provoking. I would say the one downside to this book is the actual writing and character development. It’s a poorly written book, filled with stereotypical characters who pop in and out when needed for a scene and are ignored the rest of the time. There is plenty of backstory and details provided but they are dumped on the reader in long narrative sections, “telling rather than showing”. I would have liked to see more character development in the main characters and supporting characters as well.

But here’s the thing, even with the book being so poorly written, with long sections of narrative to dump backstory and details, with stereotypical characters, the book still got to me. It still became one of those that you couldn’t put down until you finished it and at times it even brought tears to my eyes. The thought of something like this happening in my current hometown, was devastating.

You can get One Second After on in either hardcover or as eBook.

If you aren’t prepping when you start this book, you definitely will start before you finish it. It will also make you think about where you live, the people around you, and what kind if any support they would be when SHTF.

one second after coverSo though it’s poorly written, I can definitely see why this book was a best seller. It’s obvious that William Forstchen’s strength is in the history of military technology and its effects surrounding such an incident and not in writing mechanics. The book covers several different lines that would be drawn following such a SHTF event and how those lines would be drawn and enforced. It’s definitely going on my list of recommended reads, not just for preppers, but for every citizen on the planet.

So once you read One Second After and you are awakened to the fact that an EMP attack is not quite as far out of the realm of possibility as you may have once thought, what do you do? How do you begin to prepare to protect yourself and your family for a possible EMP event?

  • Consider faraday cage protection for your critical electronic devices.
  • Get your hands on a pre-1970’s car or one with limited electronic components that can short circuit. For later model cars, you can secure spare electronic parts and store protected to replace after an EMP event.
  • Formulate an emergency plan with your family as to how to live long term without electronic devices. Make sure your plan includes methods for food, water, medication and hygiene needs.
  • Work with your community emergency management personnel to formulate community wide action plans to be implemented in case of an EMP.

The consequences of not preparing in advance for an EMP are devastation and death for you and for your family. The consequences of preparing for an EMP that may never come is a little ribbing from your friends who think you are “crazy” or “paranoid”. Personally I think I would rather be thought of as “crazy” than to risk my family dying from something I could have prepared for ahead of time.

You can get One Second After on in either hardcover or as eBook.

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About Megan Stewart

Born and raised in NE Ohio, with early memories that include grandpa teaching her to bait a hook and watching her mom, aunts, and grandmothers garden, sew, and can food, Megan is a true farm girl at heart. For Megan, the 2003 blackout, the events of 911, and the increasing frequency of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, spurred a desire to be more prepared for whatever may come along. Soon to be living off-grid, this mother of four and grandmother of six grandsons, is learning everything she can about preparedness, basic survival, and self-sufficient homesteading. She is passionate about sharing that knowledge so that others can be increasingly prepared to protect their families.

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