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12/14/2005 Archived Entry: ""
BOOK REVIEW: PICKING UP THE PIECES
Blogispondent Ian here. I recently received a copy of a newly available book by Sorcha Faal and David Booth, entitled "Picking up the Pieces: A Practical Guide for Surviving Economic Crashes, Internal Unrest, and Military Suppression." I though it looked a interesting, particularly based on the advertising blurb :
In the span of less than 3 months: Gasoline prices will rise 500%. The prices of both food and shelter rise over 300%. Unemployment levels reach over 30% and are still climbing. The savings of millions evaporate overnight due to currency devaluation and bank failures. Unrest will begin in the larger cities first, then spreading out into the countryside. Strong and repressive laws are newly enacted as Police and Military forces spread throughout the country to counter all signs of growing rebellion.
Gathered from historical archives, and hundreds of personal accounts, this book will provide you with all of the information you need (and from those who have lived through, and survived these same events) to survive what you are about to face in your lives. It will give you this information, KNOWLEDGE, when you need it most, NOW.
Based on this, I was hoping for a historical research-based analysis of what to expect in the event of "economic crash, internal unrest, and military suppression." Unfortunately, the book does not deliver this. While it is 405 pages long, only a small fraction of the material is written by the authors. Most of it consists of about a dozen reprinted narratives of Holocaust survivors and people living in war zones and full-blown police states. This type of material could be useful if it were limited to the most relevant comments culled from a large number of interviews, but in Picking up the Pieces, there is no evidense of such editting. The narratives are long and winding, and often wander off topic. Further, the authors made little or no effort to analyze what specifically could be learned from any of the stories.
A typical chapter in this work consists of one to two pages of introduction by the authors, and then a single complete quoted story (about ten pages in length) relating to the chapter topic. These stories are interesting and certainly worth reading, but Faal and Booth have neglected to go any farther than quoting them verbatim. There is no comparing/contrasting of peoples' experiences in different situations or of different peoples' experiences in similar situations.
The chapters which do not have such narratives are also disappointing. In particular, the chapter "New Rules, New Laws" consists of a page from the authors about being willing to break an occupying army's laws, followed by the complete text - all 87 pages of it - of the 1949 Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Faal and Booth justify this by saying that while it almost certainly not be respected by troops, you should know its contents well in order to have violators convicted after a war.
All in all, I found little useful information in this book. I think a person would be better served to spend the money on a book about the Holocaust and to read the description of life in Argentina that made the rounds of the blogs a while back. Wish I could say better about the book, but it simply fails to live up to what it claims to be.
Posted by Ian @ 12:46 PM CST