Thursday, September 1, 2011

Book Review--The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse

Fernando Aguirre is currently dealing with the aftermath of the 2001 Argentinian economic collapse, a scenario that many Americans (me included) believe is presently staring the United States in the face. To help us out--well, and to produce a little extra income for his family--he wrote a book based on his experiences. He gives thoughtful and thought-provoking advice on how to deal with loss of income, increasing crime rates, and corrupt officials, among other things. Here are a few of my observations:
  • From the get-go, "FerFAL" takes a no-nonsense approach to what he has to say. He tells it like he sees it, and doesn't try to take it easy on the reader. He really wants to get across the seriousness of the situation, while still letting you know that even though it might be TEOTWAWKI, it's not the end of the world. 
  • He spends a great deal of time and effort stressing the importance of self defense. He discusses guns and knives in some detail, as well as some general tips for hand-to-hand fighting. Simultaneously, he stresses making a conscious effort at being aware of your surroundings at all times, staying out of danger zones, and not traveling alone: in short, not making yourself a target, which is a type of self defense that anyone can learn. 
  • He also stresses cleanliness. As more people become homeless and medical care less available, diseases and infections become more prevalent. Simple things like washing your hands when you get home, trying to touch your face (especially your mouth) less, and practicing general hygiene will become more important. This is something we could all get in the habit of doing now. 
  • He eschews the idea of "heading for the hills" and trying to make it on your own or with a few close friends or family members. He recommends the "safety in numbers" approach, while still cautioning against living in a bad neighborhood. Know your neighbors, build alliances if and when you can. 
  • I read through some reviews for the book on Amazon as well as on FerFAL's own blog. He gets a lot of negative feedback about the incorrect English, lack of photos or illustrations, and lack of editing in the book. He states at the beginning of the book that no publishing company would touch the manuscript, so he printed it himself, and that since English is not his first language, there would admittedly be some grammatical and spelling errors. While I understand where he's coming from, I do think it hurts his credibility in the eyes of many people when he can't be bothered to find a way to edit the book before publication. That being said, I tend to be a grammar nerd as well as a previous journalism student, where it was drilled into us that grammar errors were not acceptable (something that apparently isn't stressed as much any more, judging by the media these days). If I met FerFAL in person, I wouldn't correct his speech. He writes like he talks. 
This is not a feel-good book, but the author does try to make the point that even though things will get more complicated, it's not the end-all: people will adapt and life will go on. Even though he doesn't use the word "happy" or any of its synonyms, I got the subtle hint that we shouldn't despair, but plan to make the best of a bad situation.


  1. He had a blog with a huge following a few years back, and his book was all the rage. I haven't seen it mentioned for some time until today. He seemed to me to be absolutely fixated on the idea of staying in an urban environment. Be that as it may, I should probably read the book, even if it is just a condensed version of his blog postings it should still be useful.

  2. I'm not sure how I originally came across the book. It's been on my reading list for some time. I also want to go through the back-postings on his blog, to see if there's anything there that I can use.