Book Review: One Second After by William R. Forstchen

A few people have recommended that I read this book, and while I think it was a very depressing read, I also found it entertaining and enjoyable as far as the story goes. I’ve read a few opposing viewpoints and complaints about it, and the book is definitely not for everyone. There are several decisions that the main character John makes that I personally found appalling and that I wouldn’t have made myself, and I personally didn’t like him very much as a character. I can admire him looking out for his own, but there were several times where he seemed to make decisions with only his own family in mind, when he is on the council of sorts that polices the town and is supposed to be looking out for the good of the whole.

The mental images of the people dying in hospitals and nursing homes due to not having access to electricity or their medications, or getting diseases from contaminated water were awful, and the thought of people who were starving to death and having to eat their pets were pretty unbearable to me, especially as someone who loves their own dogs and horses and couldn’t picture eating them… let alone protecting them from other starving people. Then of course there’s cannibalism, rape, people who would gut you for a corn chip… etcetera. It is a very dark story, but I can see how it could become a real life scenario should an EMP weapon be used on the United States.

One thing that amazed me is that foraging was an afterthought, when they live near a national forest. I know that most people these days don’t know how to find food in the wilderness, but in all honesty, I would think that the library’s survival and foraging books would have been one of the first things either secured or pillaged in that situation, rather than people swarming convenience stores… but I suppose not everyone thinks the same way. I mean… did you know a single oak tree can drop a literal ton of acorns each year, and that with the right processing those are edible? I wonder how many oak trees are in Pisgah National Forest?

Another thing that bothered me was that most of the female characters in the book seemed to need protecting or to be weak. I’m not here to get into an argument about women physically being weaker than men, but for thousands of years women have been helping gather food for their families, hunting, fishing and the like. I didn’t see any women really doing this in this book, aside from some nameless college students that are mentioned later on.

Overall, though, I think the book was definitely worth reading, and the messages in it worth some consideration. It also helped me understand the threats we face as a nation in this world we live in now, and what *could* possibly happen if the world goes to hell.

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