About the Author (From the front matter in Preppers: History and the Cultural Phenomenon): Lynda King is a freelance writer and former newspaper editor who lives with her husband in a 19th-century farmhouse on a one-acre “mini-farm” in Central Massachusetts, where they maintain a large organic garden and a small flock of chickens. As a Girl Scout, Lynda learned “Always be prepared!” … and took that early lesson to heart. Today her grandchildren frequently quote her oft-repeated adage: “I’d rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.”
Lynda is president and co-founder of a group in her town dedicated to creating a self-reliant community. The group has worked closely with the town’s emergency management personnel on organizing a CERT team and has hosted educational programs on emergency preparedness. The group also organizes sustainable living workshops that have included skills such as bread- and cheese-making, home canning, beekeeping, and understanding alternative energy.
Born and raised in New England, and a proud Yankee through and through, Lynda values self-reliance, and has as one of her favorite quotes a line from the children’s story “The Little Red Hen”: “Then I’ll do it myself,” said the Little Red Hen. And she did.
Preppers: History and the Cultural Phenomenon is a unique book that, as the author describes, explores how historical events have helped shape a “growing collective psyche” focused on preparedness as part of a lifestyle that is critical to human survival. This is not a “how to” book; it’s more of a “why to” book that offers insights to people outside of the prepping community on who and what preppers are. The book steps the reader through events from our past that loom large as concerns for today’s preppers—from economic collapse to solar flares, massive storms, wars, terrorist attacks, civil unrest, looting, pandemics, oil shortages, and government duplicity—it’s all been here before. The book also explains that although “fringe extremists” have been around for decades, they don’t define the prepping movement.
This well-written book offers many “reminders” which show that, as bad as things may seem in many areas today—from government to the economy, to climate, to international affairs—they have been this bad, and sometimes worse, before. The thing that has brought increased attention to today’s events is the technology that has brought us the Internet, an assortment of “smart” devices that can instantly message us about what’s going on, and a 24×7 news cycle that keeps crises in front of us nonstop.
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I liked the way the book (Preppers: History and the Cultural Phenomenon) is organized—in two parts, the first covering historical events, and the second looking at modern day preppers. The first part is organized by decades, offering a chronology of important events from before 1950 through the early years of the 21st century. There is a lot of information here, all well-sourced. It may be too much for some people, but it is organized in such a way that the reader can pick and choose which chapters to read; you don’t necessarily have to read it cover-to-cover, sequentially. It is a good reference book.
I also liked the list of resources, and think they could be particularly helpful to someone new to prepping. The book points to helpful websites and expositions, and even offers a list of “jargon” common among preppers.
The book may disappoint some, in that it doesn’t focus on the life and times of early preppers who are held by some as heroes in the prepper/survivalist movement, such as Kurt Saxon, Howard Ruff, Robert D. Kephart, Jim Rawles, or Mel Tappan. It does discuss some of their contributions as well as those of the Nearings and Ragnar Benson, but it isn’t a history about them.
I think Preppers: History and the Cultural Phenomenon would be a great book for new preppers who may be unsure of themselves when it comes to prepping, and may be surrounded by people who think they are crazy. It would make a good gift from preppers to those in their personal networks who are not yet on board with the preparedness movement, and it would be useful for those in law enforcement and the media who are not quite sure what preppers or survivalist are, or who are convinced they are all “fringe extremists.”