Book Review: Emergency: This Book Will Save your Life (by Neil Strauss)

Book Review: Emergency: This Book Will Save your Life (by Neil Strauss)

Maybe the paranoid survivalist types were not as crazy as Neil Strauss thought.

Strauss is a long time writer for the New York Times who felt the election of George W. Bush was an indication of the coming end times, where intellectuals and political opponents would be rounded up by a right wing Gestapo and committed to re-education camps. He begins preparing to escape the coming conservative apocalypse. However, he begins to discover many of his comfortable assumptions about how the world works were wrong. Dead wrong.

Strauss starts his journey by trying to acquire a non-U.S. passport, reasoning it will be easier for a foreign national to flee the country when the authorities are asking for “Papers Please?”

Strauss might be best known for writing The Game, an exhaustive investigation of pickup artist culture. Like The Game, Emergency is less a how-to book and more of a narrative of what he learned from the experts. While waiting to get his passport, Strauss begins researching. He takes instructional courses to learn what he feels he needs to know to bug out when the time comes. He attends Tom Brown’s Tracker School primitive skills course, CERT courses taught at the local fire department  (which Strauss admits was only to acquire the emergency vest and helmet) and kills a goat to learn how to butcher it. Over the course of eight years Strauss learns how to take care of himself in ways he always assumed weren’t necessary. After all, isn’t that what the government is for?

The book is interspersed with well done comic book style instructional pieces, including “how to defeat attacking dogs” and “how to escape flex cuffs.” There is a good deal to learn from the book and Strauss is an entertaining narrator. Definitely worth reading, even if you aren’t afraid the next election will bring about the apocalypse.


Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the May 2015 print issue of American Survival Guide.

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