Friday, December 12, 2014

The Modern Survival manual by Fernando Aguirre

So, I can't tell for sure how much this guy is for real, and how much is B.S. To me, he scans a little bit like those Special Forces wannabees who brag about how dangerous their lives are at parties, but turn out to be accountants IRL. The book also suffers from a lack of good editing, there's a lot of repetition of previous points which are not intentional and for emphasis, and some of the "prep" lists he makes seem severely impractical.

That said, there are a few points Aguirre makes that I thought ran counter to conventional wisdom which were good. For example, he debunks the whole idea of the countryside being more safe when the SHTF than being in a more populated area. It turns out that in an actual economic collapse, groups of bandits prefer isolated targets with no nearby neighbors, where they can rob, torture, rape and murder without worrying about anyone coming around to investigate or help the victims.

He debunks the idea, as well, that a barter economy will take over, and those who hoarded ammo and canned goods will get rich quick, using real world experiences from the Argentinian crisis to illustrate his points. One thing that happened in Argentina was that laws were rapidly passed banning the sale of ammunition by private parties - all sales had to be done by licensed firearms dealers. That could easily happen here, despite all 2A concerns, if the government doesn't let the crisis go to waste. Many weapons were confiscated during Katrina, and it could certainly happen on a larger scale in a national emergency.

He does support keeping a certain amount of precious metals on hand to use as "currency", but stresses highly being careful not to let anyone know you have a stash, and only to change small amounts as necessary. It's probably better to have some scrap 18K gold jewelry to sell in a crisis, as then you can pretend it was Grandma's heirloom ring that you're reluctantly parting with, and not part of a greater cache. It sounds as if silver never became widely used as a holder of value in the Argentinian situation, so you might bear that in mind if you're planning for massive inflation in the U.S. at some point eroding the value of your paper money. Also, paper money will not simply become "toilet paper"; it will still be used, but will not buy what it used to buy as cheaply.

He also promotes the "gray man" concept. In a social situation where people are desperate, and many have turned to crime, it is best to not a) fit any victim profile, such as by being too well-dressed or appearing rich and b)to simply go quietly unnoticed by criminals, or considered a "hard" target. There's some good stuff here on situational awareness, too.

He seems to me to spend far too much time talking about various methods of "active" self defense. Street-fighting tactics and the ability to make anything into a weapon are all very well and good in their place, but as a middle aged man, I'm not likely to take up Thai boxing and become proficient any time soon, or become an MMA champ, so aside from making note of the dozens of ways to kill a man in a knife fight, I pretty much skimmed this whole section.

I really picked up this book on a recommendation from someone whose opinion I respected, hoping to learn more about the financial crisis in Argentina (which sparked Aguirre's interest and need to learn more survival skills) and how to handle potential events like runaway inflation or the devaluation of the dollar. The "financials" section was quite small, and appeared near the end of the book.

It did contain a good section on haggling, which most Americans could stand to read, if they ever intend to buy souvenirs in the second or third world, never mind applying it if the SHTF in our country.

You definitely will have to dig for the "nuggets" here.

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