Book Review -Prepping for a Suburban or Rural Community: Building a Civil Defense Plan for a Long-Term Catastrophe

Met a guy on Twitter. I had posted a tweet somewhere along the lines of “Civil Defense begins with YOU”. His response was to invite me to read his new book.

Yeah. Sure.

I don’t respond to many invitations, and for good reason. But something about his premise interested me – because it included as part of its foundation an EMP strike. So, I trotted over to Amazon and read what I could of the “Look Inside” feature. The material and table of contents seemed real enough, so I bought it. Read it twice. (Performed my grammar snob duty on it, as well.)

In the end, I was impressed enough to write him and tell him so, and to conjure up a review for it on Amazon. As of tonight, there are thirteen reviews, all with five stars. Some of the reviewers are well known in the prep community.

Here is mine in it entirety.


“Preppers: Your “bug out bag” and a year’s worth of wheat in Mylar bags
are not going to save you.” – Michael Mabee

Survivalist /Prepper mentality is an ongoing, developing phenomena with its roots back in the 70s, where the survivalist movement got its name. Many participants are individuals, or small groups of people with like-minded concerns, and a desire to plan ahead for this and that. But traditional preparedness, as a plan regularly and quite visibly grafted into the lives of citizens against “the Day”, reaches back to the 50s, where Cold War threats of nuclear death and destruction prompted nation-wide Civil Defense programs. Government at many levels worked to designate fallout shelters and set aside food, water and medical equipment and supplies. In many cases, mobile hospitals were prepositioned for rapid deployment. Government centers of power maintained alternate secure locations. Parallel private efforts at survival prompted families to amplify public efforts. Families and small towns chose to build up their
own food stocks, and to construct fallout shelters and defensive bunkers of their own. These efforts were a somewhat logical extension of the way of life lived by generations from the early 20th century, which had to improvise ways to survive the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, population migration and two world wars.

 The Civil Defense program has been shut down for years. When a cache of survival supplies from the CD Program is located, it is looked upon with curiosity, and as material fit for a museum. Even so, Preppers, the next generation of Civil Defense minded people, forge ahead without government help. FEMA has a bad record at assistance. After all, it is a “management agency”, not a support organization. Many have learned that the only reliable method of guaranteeing help and support is to set it up in advance, on their own. Where the government has abandoned reasonable preparation, individuals have gone far beyond.

Today, those who seek to prepare for hard times are faced with a rich selection of disasters. At, we have come to the conclusion that one such major threat to our continued way of life is an EMP strike. Of all the ways in which the United States could be heavily damaged, an EMP strike stands out as the best bang-for-the-buck from our adversaries. It would be a disaster of the kind we have never seen. Quite literally, the majority of electrical service and computer-dependent equipment would be wrecked, leaving the nation with a population of 300,000,000+ people without the means to feed and house itself. The strike in itself is one disaster. The nation’s citizenry predating each other
trying to stay alive is the next. It is the intended end result of a strike, and is a horror unknown.

Survivalist /Preppers, in their default lone-wolf mode, will have a seriously difficult time keeping things under control. Some scenarios are survivable, even in a world without rule of law. Careful planning and expenditure of resources can create a relatively safe environment for some. But for most, this is simply not possible.

Within “Prepping for a Suburban or Rural Community: Building a Civil Defense Plan for a Long-Term Catastrophe”, by Michael Mabee, lies a plan – a real plan – for altering the scenario, and including a way to survive for those already outside the cities. Pay close attention to the title, for Michael chose it as keenly as a sniper does a target. Some authors
will sell you printed snake oil, promising you the knowledge to survive anything. The mature Prepper knows that not all scenarios are survivable. There are some situations that will quite simply and quickly kill you. Michael has studied and war gamed this topic, and has decided that the dividing line between dead and prospering populations lies no closer to a city than its suburbs. For only the disconnected burbs and rural regions have the potential to organize, identify key individuals and resources, and practice a plan for survival.

I am impressed with Michael’s work. He set out to illustrate how a community might organize for its survival after a grid-killing event. By detailing his plan, he is able to help the reader determine if his town is a good place to start, or decide that he might need to chose a more suitable place to live. As I wrote to him, his book, “while specifically NOT attempting to differentiate between the varying degrees of potential success, does force one to evaluate a town’s chances.”

So, after all that, what’s his point? COMMUNITY. The lone Prepper, or even a small group, is subject to the masses seeking to work their will on anyone they meet. Only an organized and trained community can provide its residents with housing, medical care, food, water and defense. Simply put, Michael wants communities to take responsibility for themselves, and he shows them how. As Michael says, “There is another word for community prepping: civil defense.”

“Prepping for a Suburban or Rural Community” is a community business plan.
It teaches you how to:
– organize a Civil Defense organization under the 501 c(3) structure
– design a mission statement, charter and set of bylaws
– create a security force and the leadership to manage it – all the while working with existing peace officers, fire crews and town leadership
– create and manage effective support via planning, operations, logistics and finance

Throughout his book, he asks questions in list format. Answering those questions places the reader into an evaluation mindset, and prepares him to face his community’s preparedness situation intelligently. By creating lists, he relieves most of the wheel reinvention that so many preppers feel is necessary. The book builds a strong foundation for necessary planning.

Near the end, he gets into the details of security organization. For preppers not familiar with security, this might appear over the top. I would encourage you to not let any such thoughts color your opinion of this work. Security of life and materiel are tied so closely to one another in a dead-grid situation that there can be no community planning without it. Michael presents security on a factual basis, concentrating on organization, development and operations, with a few scenarios included for mental orientation. His plan calls for integration with local peace officer organizations where possible.

Lastly, regarding some other reviews. Two of the book’s reviewers have slipped into wishing for this or that to have been included. And they were on track for those desires if the book was an all encompassing tome. But Mr. Mabee stuck with the title, so well chosen. The title, subject and meat of the book are perfectly matched with his original intent. This is a plan. Well thought out, and worth serious consideration if you are concerned with the survivability of your suburban or rural community. It fills a gap in the voluminous and oft times low calorie and monotonous prepping genre of books. I personally believe it is a necessary manual for the survival of small communities and, with some adjustments, even small mutual assistance groups possessing a geographic buffer between themselves and large cities.

A link to Mr. Mabee’s book on Amazon.

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