How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times

How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times

by James Wesley Rawles


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In the vein of Sam Sheridan's The Disaster Diaries, a comprehensive guide to preparing for the apocalypse. 
Disruptive elections. Global financial collapse. A terrorist attack. A natural catastrophe. All it takes is one event to disrupt our way of life. We could find ourselves facing myriad serious problems from massive unemployment to a food shortage to an infrastructure failure that cuts off our power or water supply. If something terrible happens, we won't be able to rely on the government or our communities. We'll have to take care of ourselves.

In How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It, James Rawles, founder of, clearly explains everything you need to know to protect yourself and your family in the event of a disaster—from radical currency devaluation to a nuclear threat to a hurricane. Rawles shares essential tactics and techniques for surviving completely on your own, including how much food is enough, how to filter rainwater, how to protect your money, which seeds to buy for your garden, why goats are a smart choice for livestock, and how to secure your home. It's the ultimate guide to total preparedness and self-reliance in a time of need.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780452295834
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/04/2009
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 75,962
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

James Wesley, Rawles is the founder of A former U.S. Army Intelligence officer and technical writer, he is the author of the novel Patriots.

Read an Excerpt


An Extremely Fragile Society

We live in a time of relative prosperity. Our health care is excellent, our grocery-store shelves bulge with a huge assortment of fresh foods, and our telecommunications systems are lightning fast. We have cheap transportation, with our cities linked by an elaborate and fairly well-maintained system of roads, freeways, rails, canals, seaports, and airports. For the first time in human history, the majority of the world’s population now lives in cities.

But the downside to all this abundance is overcomplexity, overspecialization, and overly long supply chains. In the First World, less than 2 percent of the population is engaged in agriculture or fishing. Ponder that for a moment: Just 2 percent of us are feeding the other 98 percent. The food on our tables often comes from hundreds if not thousands of miles away. Our heating and lighting are typically provided by power sources hundreds of miles away. For many people, even their tap water travels that far. Our factories produce sophisticated cars and electronics that have subcomponents that are sourced from three continents. The average American comes home from work each day to find that his refrigerator is well-stocked with food, his lights come on reliably, his telephone works, his tap gushes pure water, his toilet flushes, his paycheck has been automatically deposited to his bank, his garbage has been collected, his house is a comfortable seventy degrees, his televised entertainment is up and running 24/7, and his Internet connection is rock solid. We’ve built a very Big Machine that up until now has worked remarkably well, with just a few glitches. But that may not always be the case. As Napoleon found the hard way, long chains of supply and communication are fragile and vulnerable. Someday the Big Machine may grind to a halt.

Let me describe just one set of circumstances that could cause that to happen:

Imagine the greatest of all influenza pandemics, spread by casual contact—a virus so virulent that it kills more than half of the people infected. And imagine the advance of a disease so rapid that it makes its way around the globe in less than a week. (Isn’t modern jet air travel grand?) Consider that we have global news media that is so rabid for “hot” news that they can’t resist showing pictures of men in respirators, rubber gloves, goggles, and Tyvek coveralls wheeling gurneys out of houses, laden with body bags. These scenes will be repeated so many times that the majority of citizens decides “I’m not going to go to work tomorrow, or the day after, or in fact until after things get better.” But by not going to work, some important cogs will be missing from the Big Machine.

What will happen when the Big Machine is missing pieces? Orders won’t get processed at the Wal-Mart distribution center. The 18-wheelers won’t make deliveries to groceries stores. Gas stations will run out of fuel. Some policemen and firemen won’t show up for work, having decided that protecting their own families is their top priority. Power lines will get knocked down in windstorms, and there will be nobody to repair them. Crops will rot in the fields and orchards because there will be nobody to pick them, or transport them, or magically bake them into Pop-Tarts, or stock them on your supermarket shelf. The Big Machine will be broken.

Does this sound scary? Sure it does, and it should. The implications are huge. But it gets worse: The average suburban family has only about a week’s worth of food in their pantry. Let’s say the pandemic continues for weeks or months on end—what will they do when that food is gone and there is no reasonably immediate prospect of resupply? Supermarket shelves will be stripped bare. Faced with the prospect of staying home and starving or going out to meet Mr. Influenza, millions of Joe Americans will be forced to go out and “forage” for food. The first likely targets will be restaurants, stores, and food-distribution warehouses. As the crisis deepens, not a few “foragers” will soon transition to full-scale looting, taking the little that their neighbors have left. Next, they’ll move on to farms that are in close proximity to cities. A few looters will form gangs that will be highly mobile and well armed, ranging deeper and deeper into farmlands, running their vehicles on surreptitiously siphoned gasoline. Eventually their luck will run out and they will all die of the flu, or of lead poisoning. But before the looters are all dead they will do a tremendous amount of damage. You must be ready for a coming crisis. Your life and the lives of your loved ones will depend on it.

The New World and You

If and when the flu pandemic—or terrorist attack, or massive currency devaluation, or some other unthinkable crisis—occurs, things could turn very, very ugly all over the globe. Think through all of the implications of disruption of key portions of our modern technological infrastructure. You need to be able to provide water, food, heating, and lighting for your family. Ditto for law enforcement, since odds are that a pandemic will be YOYO (You’re on your own!) time.

You’ll need to get your beans, bullets, and Band-Aids squared away, pronto. Most important, you’ll need to be prepared to hunker down for three or four months, with minimal outside contact. That will take a lot of logistics, as well as plenty of cash on hand to pay your bills in the absence of a continuing income stream.

The Great Unraveling

As this book goes to press in the summer of 2009, we are witnessing a global economy in deep, deep trouble. Artificially low interest rates and artificially high residential real estate prices in many First World nations fueled a worldwide credit bubble. That bubble burst in 2007, and the full effects of the credit collapse are just now being felt. The resulting recession might turn into an economic depression that could last more than a decade.

The collapse of the credit default swaps (CDS) casino is indicative of much larger systemic risk. These exotic hedges are just one small part of the more than six-hundred-trillion-dollar global derivatives market. There are other derivatives that are just as dangerous. Veteran investor Warren Buffett called derivatives “a ticking time bomb.” I concur.

All of the recent bad economic news and the advent of the H1N1 flu call into question some of the basic assumptions about living in a modern industrialized society. We are forced to ask ourselves: How much stress can a society take before it begins to unravel? How safe will our cities be in another year, or in five years? Will supermarket shelves continue to be well stocked with such a tremendous abundance and such a wide assortment of goods?

With the information contained in this book, you can prepare yourself to live independently (“off the grid”) for an extended period of time. Self-sufficiency is the bottom line.

Please note that I make reference to some useful Web sites throughout this book. If you aren’t on the Internet, you can access these sites from free Internet terminals at most public libraries. If any of these URLs are obsolete, then do Web searches for their new URLs or comparable Web sites. For the sake of brevity, I have used the service to truncate the longer URLs for Web sites mentioned in the book. These short URLs will make it quick and easy for you to reference the Web sites mentioned herein.

Also for the sake of brevity, I use a lot of acronyms in my writings. Each acronym is spelled out the first time it is used, and in this book’s glossary.

This book provides both a challenge and a response: Are you truly ready for TEOTWAWKI? If not, then herein is what you’ll need to know.

Read this book. Give it some prayer. Then get busy!


Excerpted from "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It"
by .
Copyright © 2009 James Wesley, Rawles.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews

How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 71 reviews.
JCRefuge More than 1 year ago
I'm fortunate to have been provided a pre-publication review copy of James Wesley, Rawles' new book, "How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It." The book is due out September 29. In a nutshell, it's an excellent, well-organized handbook for the thinking man (or woman) who wants to be absolutely ready for uncertain times. Rawles is preeminently known around the world as an expert in many of the related fields surrounding survival in the 21st century. His blog, is number one in an increasingly crowded field, and for good reason. The man has demonstrated impeccable character and judgment and encyclopedic cognizance through the years. His background and training were years in the making, but his expertise was quickly recognized in his first best-seller, "Patriots, a Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse." Since then, Rawles' blog has exploded in application and acclaim as people struggle to come to terms with a threatening world increasingly discouraging and unfamiliar. In fact, his following is as loyal, respectful, ardent, and eager to contribute as an online audience comes. In this latest major contribution to the survival genre, Mr. Rawles has put together some of the best advice and guidance for beginners and experts alike that can be found in one place. Can anyone today actually feel in control without having consulted the extensive knowledge base of THE guy who hundreds of thousands of like-minded individuals rely on? I too am in the field of survival. With a similar background to Jim Wesley, Rawles, my calling was to find a way to get people needed supplies and gear in the most economical and trustworthy ways I could arrange. There are a fast-growing number of people like us who understand that our future will likely call upon people everywhere to fall back on traditional skills and habits and draw upon resources that today most would see as quaint, remote, and even disagreeable. To get a clear view of the future, one should take an unbiased look into the past. We have built up a complex, fragile society relying upon technologies that literally provide most of the population with crucial life support. Any leg holding up that immense infrastructure that supports modern life can suddenly give way. If that happens, it could bring about a total, irreparable collapse of the whole shootin' match ... in dramatic fashion. We know from events like the Hurricane Katrina aftermath that rescue and rehabilitation initiatives from the great I-AMs in federal high places will be sorely inadequate. Lesson learned--be personally ready or suffer greatly. I like to give practical gifts away to my customers, friends, and relatives. Sometimes, these gifts are potential life-savers. Eye-opening books such as "How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It" are perhaps the most popular and well-received gifts I give away. I know this title will change some lives, so I already have my initial order in for several dozen copies. That is the best way I can express my appreciation and endorsement for a product--and this book is worthy.
JHaney More than 1 year ago
How To Survive The End Of The World As We Know It Tactics, Techniques And Technologies For Uncertain Times By: James Wesley, Rawles Plume Books Reviewed by: Josh Haney Copyright 2009 It was not too long ago, back in early 2008, that I had the chance to review Patriots-Surviving The Coming Collapse by Mr. Rawles. At that time no one was particularly worried or knowledgeable about swine flu, the global banking meltdown or quite a few of the other problems that seem to be popping up not just here in the states but all over the world. I was quite impressed at the amount of knowledge that he hid in plain sight within the pages of his adventure novel that was more than a decade in the making. I was also astounded by how many of the predictions he had made within it's pages were coming true. Now we flash forward to a little more than a year later and, to quote from the author, it seems that the Schumer is hitting the fan. There are nightly media reports about pandemic influenza, monetary runs causing some countries to enter the beginning stages of depression and other specters that would cause even the most skeptical among us to rethink their position. So, it's no surprise that Mr. Rawles has stepped forward to once again offer some guidance to those that have never considered the end of the world as we know it, or TEOTWAWKI in survivalist circles. This time there is no pretense of fiction, just straight-forward tactical advice that can get even the least prepared up to speed in a remarkably short time. The information is presented in a straightforward manner, reading like wisdom from a trusted family member. And instead of giving you a one size fits all solution to the logistics involved, there are discussions on which pieces of the puzzle are more important to your clan. As I read this book, I was in the middle of a cross-country move to a safer locale for my kin and as I got through the chapters I realized that some of my well-placed notions needed to be rethought. With this book in my back pocket and the contractor's number on speed dial, I was able to fix holes that had appeared in my plans before I reached a point where there would be no fixing them. Now when the SHTF I won't be kicking myself for things that I hadn't even considered being a problem. I'll have my family squared away, safe and sound, with enough left over to help out the neighbors. If I have any complaint it's that the book was to short! Clichéd I know, but I wanted more information, more of his clear-cut data gathered from years of studying this very subject, more of exactly what the title offers. Luckily there are enough web links, companies and organizations listed as references, as well as Mr. Rawles very own SurvivalBlog, that anything not contained within these pages is still just a few clicks (or calls) away. You've really got to admire someone whose goal is to get you prepared, even if he has to send you elsewhere to make that happen. It's that dedication to the subject matter that makes me recommend this to folks who are just starting to get their heads in the game. While other writers have released books that are no more than cobbled together recipes for disaster, this is a functional primer that is just as pertinent to those of us who think we have our game plan worked out. If the world comes to an end with a whimper, as T.S. Eliot so succinctly put it, or kicking and screaming you'll be glad to have t
Ronin_06 More than 1 year ago
Mr. Rawles provides valuable insight into 3 situations. The current situation or at least the situation the world was in when he wrote the book. Situation two is called WTSHTF. Most of you know what that means or can figure it out quickly. If you can't, put the book down and walk away. You are a sheep. It is okay to be a sheep. Some sheep will make it through situation three due to the generosity of their family and friends. Some areas covered are natural disasters and man made disasters. Situation three has not hit us in America yet. Situations one and two may be precursors. Situation three TEOTWAWKI is an acronym for the title of the book. Mr. Rawles does not dwell on TEOTWAWKI. He provides information and actions to be taken before each situation occurs or actions to take if you find yourself in one of the situations. The book is loaded with very valuable references. The links that I have tried so far have worked. It is rare to find a book with links to things you actually want to investigate further. Some of you will prepare for TEOTWAWKI. Others will only prepare for WTSHTF, at least you are moving in the right direction. The book is loaded with common sense information and activities that you should be doing everyday. Some actions you may want to take more seriously; others you may not. It is up to you. It is all up to you. I've gained knowledge for my toolbox from this book. I do not agree with everything Mr. Rawles states but I do agree with most. My personal disagreements are my views only. I do not wish to share them as they are minor when taken in totality. I full recommend this book to everyone and I recommend reading it now!
CurrentEventsMama More than 1 year ago
I passed this book on to family who were never one's to be too concerned with food storage, creating electricity on their own or water storage and many have begun their own "basic" survival set ups. This book is very in depth but comprehensive enough for even the beginner or a person with general interest in surviving or just dropping off the grid. The "tactics, techniques, and technologies" covered by James Wesley, Rawles are laid out in a very orderly manner and each chapter or section is easy to follow through. Although the book seems overly detailed it is great for the person starting out because we all have to start somewhere and this book gives you ideas to come back to after you get going. I think every red blooded American should own a copy.
RMSjr More than 1 year ago
Very interesting book, not about survival as commonly interpreted but about preparedness. The author has obviously done his homework. I thought I was reasonably prepared for a disaster. I was wrong. As a result of reading this book, I have undertaken a complete review of my preparedness and am now considering a host of changes to improve my situation. At my age, I'll never be in his league, but I'll be much more comfortable with facing an uncertain future.
Northstaar More than 1 year ago
For anyone who wants to know more about how to survive without all of our modern conveniences, this book is for you. Even though I've read other books on the subject, I still picked up a lot of new information. This book is not just for "survivalists". It has helpful hints on how to endure short term disruptions such as power outages and temporary food shortages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just learned of this book....and have every intention of getting it for my Nook, and hard copies for family members. I am having a hard time convincing loved ones of the danger that we all are facing. I have begun my 'hoarding', if you will, because i understand what little time it takes for things to go from bad to OMG!! Bear in mind that grocery stores will empty in hours, and thats it for who knows how long. Some of us just went thru a week or more with no power here in the northeast, and that was a cake walk compared to what 'months and months' would be like. Go back and take a look at what the Katrina people went thru. Now imagine worse than even that. Are you ready? Are your most loved ones ready? Right this minute....think....with what you have on hand...right long could you go? Think about it people. Anyway, im done ramblin. Good Luck.....God Speed...And God Bless The USA.
Nekko_fox More than 1 year ago
This book was, quite frankly, awful. It states early on that  people will wait until the last minute and then throw money at the problem in the hopes that it goes away. And then, in a supreme form of hypocrisy, the author provides myriad examples of how to solve your throwing money at them. Need a water filter? Don't make one, spend four thousand dollars to get one!  Want to protect your home? Go out and buy one, in a remote location, and stockpile it with guns and food! And do you have a vehicle? Well, rather than offering a fitness regimen to avoid needing vehicles, it suggests you buy several! Huzzah for money! And of course, the over-burgeoning necessity for religion. "Helping hands do more than praying lips." If you want a survivalist book, this is not a good option. No good sources, no good advice, hypocritical thoughts, and opinionated writing,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is incredible! It supplies you with everything you might need to survive something catostrohpic. Amazing. Although you might feel a little crazy for reading it, or believing it, the book seriously helps you gather the supplies you need/want. Just great. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
great read, infomative for a prepper, a must read
Syd16S More than 1 year ago
I recently read this book on my kindle, and now i want to get it as a real book. It was very well organized and very helpful.
just_gene More than 1 year ago
KNOWLEDGE IS GOOD... How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It James Wesley Rawles has given us a comprehensive list of categories to build a plan of plans. he goes into each category giving us knowledge, products... go of on each plan and check off your tasks, services, sources and products... to build uo your own self reliance this gives you a great custom built matrix based on your goals to check off items as your time, needs and budget allows so i say knowledge is good... simplicity is best... comprehensive and up up front will get the job let me know what you think...
khl More than 1 year ago
A very good book on what you need to survive a possible collapse. Lite on the how too,
tabulator32 More than 1 year ago
Practically every day, whether you are an avid news follower or not, we usually end up hearing about some event or atrocity that occurred somewhere in the world that made life more complicated (or practically impossible) due to any number of circumstances. A few simple preparations can help tremendously when it comes to a lack of food, a lack of clean water, civil unrest and similar consequences from natural events or man-made events. The goal is not only to survive, but to thrive! With these simple steps to help ensure your own safety and well-being, you are not only going to increase your chances of making it through disasters or pitfalls which may head your way, but you are going to endure them more comfortably than most, and more economically as well! Being well prepared does not cost you money. It saves you money. James Wesley Rawles does not mince words when it comes to writing about this life-saving topic. Dick Hill (the orator in this audio version) is the perfect voice with a clear, concise delivery and intonation that makes you pay attention, as if the topic material were not intriguing enough. You can listen to this anywhere (in the car, at work) but I strongly recommend you listen in a comfortable environment which allows you to take written notes. Don't worry about getting ALL of the information in one sitting as you will most likely want to listen to the recording more than once. There is a vast amount of specific and useful information for ANYONE wanting to be better prepared for almost any type of disaster which can be dealt out in life. Having preparations for possible disasters (and even minor setbacks) is not only a common sense way of life, it is also more efficient and cost-saving than the typical consumer life-style. Not only will you be better prepared in an emergency (or short- to long-term disaster), but you will live both more efficiently and more comfortably than if you had not learned how to be a more self-sufficient person. The daring situations and events which send the masses running to the grocery store to fend against each other (and collect whatever they can from the rapidly emptying shelves) will find you safe and calm at home, already prepared, and ready with the supplies you need for almost any situation. Having a ready supply of non-perishable food, a decent first aid kit, some basic tools, and other sensible supplies is generally referred to as having a "prepper" mentality, as you would be one who is "prepped" for any tough times you may experience. The prepper mentality is often compared to Aesop's fable of the grasshopper and the ant, where the ant methodically and consistently gathers and stores food for the oncoming winter. The grasshopper frolics and plays and even taunts the ant for his activities but the ant simply warns the grasshopper to do the same. When winter comes and food is scarce, the ant is warm and content while the grasshopper is left in the cold with nothing to eat. It may sound simple and rudimentary...and it is, but it is an important lesson to be learned. Listen from beginning to end just once, and the knowledge you have gained will make you a more forward-thinking person, and more capable of getting things accomplished towards the benefit of you and your entire household. Becoming prepared is not something which happens overnight. It improves with time as does your quality of life. Begin your journey today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DaveK0217 More than 1 year ago
The author of this book certainly has a lot of knowledge and has done a lot of additional homework in putting together this book. The book is a blueprint in surviving a long-term scenario in which the general infrastructure that our society is built upon is either non-existent or minimally existent. This means no power, no social services, no police, no nothing. It explains how to prepare your home in order to be completely self-sufficient, being able to procure your own water, your own food, generate electrical power, home security, skills or items for barter and trade, etc. And for most people, it would mean purchasing a 2nd home or just moving. It's not practical for most people and only very wealthy people would be able to implement this plan. But the author was clearly trying to cover all bases here in order for one's family to be completely self-sufficient. It reminds me of a time years ago when a friend and I would be having fun discussions of what we would want in a survival bunker to prepare for a zombie apocalypse. We weren't actually going to do it, but we were trying to figure out everything that would be needed.
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I just started reading this book last night, couldnt put it down. Great in depth info, really had some tips I hadnt thought about before.
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SurvivalHow More than 1 year ago
I read this book twice, it was just as good the second time around. His Blog and his other books are good info as well. I have recommended this to many of my friends who bought and read it, they agree that this is a must read.
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