Book 68: One Second After by William Forstchen

I read another post-apocalyptic book. Shocking…I know.

But this one is different, I swear!

One Second After by William Forstchen is not about zombies, the second coming of the Lord, a natural disaster, or some science fiction-like event. No…this “end of the world” scenario is so plausible that I have (kindly) instructed my fiance to read the book so we can be better prepared for the situation if it were to occur…and not in some over-exaggerated Doomsday Preppers kind of way. I am (dead?) serious. And it didn’t help that Newt Gingrich wrote the Foreword to the novel, describing his decade-long fascination with and fear of American technology being obliterated by an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP). No one does that with zombie books because the realm of possibility is so small (read: nonexistent). But attack by EMP? That is a whole lot more likely.

The novel is narrated by retired Army colonel John Matherson; a widower, father of 2 girls, and history professor at the small Christian college up the road. John enjoys his simple life in Black Mountain, North Carolina, but one Spring night the lights go out, and John’s experience with the army tells him that this is no power outage, no storm, not even another 9/11. No, this is a foreign attack. An EMP.

John goes into soldier status and with the help of the mayor, town public safety officer, and doctor, corral the community. They collect and ration out food, medicine, and protection. The community comes together (though not without a few problems…this isn’t a fairy tale story) and an army forms out of the students at Montreat College. The story, though, is just a catalyst for the author to make his case that an EMP attack could be the worst thing to happen to this plugged-in country. With everything we use relying on battery power, and our excessive use of prescription medication, Forstchen claims (through the novel) that 80% of Americans would die in the first year following an EMP attack, due to our inability to get things back up and running. Inability to cope, disease, lack of medicine, lack of running water in some areas, food shortages, and more would lead to the destruction of the country.

But Forstchen isn’t all gloom and doom. If we take his novel as a case study, to learn from what the fictional characters of Black Mountain, NC went through, then we, as a nation, could be better prepared for an EMP attack or other attack, natural disaster, or that totally possible zombie thing. The author’s website has a detailed list of items we should all have stowed away, and situations we should be prepared for in case such an event occurs. I encourage you all to look at this list, if not read the book, to better understand what total darkness (from electronics) could mean to this country, and how we can be better prepared. Proper preparation could mean the difference between life and death.

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