The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch – Book Review

The Knowledge

This post is by Bernie Carr,


I had an opportunity to review The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch by Lewis Dartnell.

If you happen to survive “the end of the world as we know it” (TEOTWAWKI) with civilization is in shambles and most of the population killed off, how would you go about rebuilding?  What type of information would you need?

Dr. Lewis Dartnell, the author, explores the complex technologies comprising modern life today:  clean water, food, clothing, agriculture, hygiene, medicine, fuel, building materials, transportation, etc.  He tells the story of innovation and how things developed over many years, sometimes by luck or happenstance.  Dr. Dartnell is a UK Space Agency research fellow at the University of Leicester, specializing in astrobiology.  He knows all about “how things work” and I like that he explains everything in layperson’s terms.

The Knowledge covers a broad range of subjects and knowledge needed to give civilization a reboot.  This is assuming of course that roving bands of violent pillagers are not out to kill off the residents of your fledgling town.  I think one of the issues I had with the book was it has an idealized set of circumstances on which civilization would be jump-started.

On the other hand, I enjoyed reading through the chemistry and processes behind such things as fermentation, soap, electricity, what keeps vehicles running, etc.  For preppers, there are also multiple interesting nuggets of information throughout every part of the book.  For example, the water and food sections cover good sources of water, good containers to scavenge, what foods would be likely to keep after the apocalypse, and more..  This is not a “how to” manual, but it does give the average reader a broad understanding of what it would take to get civilization back on track.

Reading The Knowledge gave me pause and allowed me to stop and think about all the technology we rely on every day of our lives, yet take for granted.   Although it might be difficult, should TEOTWAWKI happen, it is doable, with the right set of circumstances, to rebuild and regain what is lost.

© Apartment Prepper 2015


A Time to Endure by Kyle Pratt – Book Review and Giveaway

A Time to EndureToday we are featuring A Time to Endure by Kyle Pratt.  It is the second book in the Strengthen What Remains series.  We featured the author, Kyle Pratt and his first book, Through Many Fires in this article.

What is the book about?

A Time to Endure follows Major Caden Westmore whom we met in the first book, Through Many Fires, when six American cities are destroyed by nuclear terrorism.  From the Amazon description:  “Caden struggles to get home across a stricken, terrified nation. In the second book, A Time to Endure, the nation’s economy teeters on the verge of collapse. The dollar plunges, inflation runs rampant, and the next civil war threatens to decimate the wounded country. In the face of tyranny, panic, and growing hunger, Caden struggles to keep his family and town together. But how can he save his community when the nation is collapsing around it?”

My impressions:

A Time to Endure is just as fast paced as the first book.  There is enough action to keep the pages turning, and it is a fast paced book.

The characters are flawed and deeply human.  While I did not agree with some of the main character’s, Caden Westmore’s decisions, I understood where he was coming from.   As the reader, I do not feel it is necessary to always agree with the character, only that the characters interest me enough to see them through.

A country in the midst of chaos along with the struggles of its citizens are plausibly described.  Despite the backdrop of rampant destruction, there is still some semblance of infrastructure and law and order but in a lesser degree.

A Time to Endure is a good read and we look forward to the third book.

Now for the Giveaway:

I am excited to hold our first giveaway of the year!  We are giving away a copy of A Time to Endure


To enter, just comment on the question below:

What threats are you most concerned about this 2015?  What steps are you taking to prepare?

The winner* will be chosen at a random “Pick a Giveaway Winner” drawing on Saturday, January 24th at 8 pm Central.*Winners will be notified via email.  *Winner must reply to email notification within 48 hours or other winners will be drawn.


© Apartment Prepper 2015


Review of Beyond Basics with Natural Yeast

Beyond Basics with Natural YeastThis post is by Bernie Carr,

I received a review copy of Beyond Basics with Natural Yeast by Melissa Richardson.  For anyone who does not know about “natural yeast” vs. commercial yeast:  Yeast is a naturally occurring substance that is present everywhere.  Baking with natural yeast means cultivating your own “starter” dough and using it over and over.  Commercial yeast is what we all know and buy at the supermarket – Fleichmann’s or Red Star come to mind.  This book is about using natural yeast for all kinds of baking needs.

I have to say my one experience with natural yeast was not exactly stellar:  I ordered sourdough starter and was not very successful when I baked my first loaf.  Even with good intentions, I ended up throwing it all out when the started dough began smelling odd in the fridge.  Nonetheless, I was ready to give natural yeast another try.

The book is beautiful: full color with glossy pages, and a spiral spine for easy page turning.  The book’s appearance immediately drew me in.

Upon reading the book, I learned a lot about success factors in growing your yeast, the science behind it and the multiple uses of natural yeast.  Prior to reading this book, I thought natural yeast is normally just used for baking bread.  Actually, it has so many more uses besides bread:  muffins, pancakes, waffles, crackers, croutons, stuffing; there is even an international chapter with recipes for different cuisines.

This book is a follow up to the first book, The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast.  If you are completely new to natural yeast, I would recommend reading The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast-even the book mentions it is a good idea to read it.  However, if you are already familiar with using natural yeast, Beyond Basics with Natural Yeast can stand on its own.

The recipes are simple and easy to understand.  The photos are eye-catching and very inspiring.

In fact, I was so fired up about trying natural yeast again that I took the steps to grow my own starter.  The book also gives instructions on how to obtain your own free starter.  I think it is very practical and cost-effective to learn how to grow and bake with natural yeast.  Beyond Basics with Natural Yeast is a keeper and I recommend you pick up the book.  It would make an excellent gift as well.

© Apartment Prepper 2014




Book Review The Guardians: The New Homefront Volume 2

The Guardians

This post is by Bernie Carr,

I previously reviewed The Last Layover:  The New Homefront Volume 1 by Steven C. Bird as part of Survivor Jane’s preparedness books blog tour.

The Guardians is the second book in the Homefront series.  The story continues to cover the main families from the first book, and introduces two sons of one of the original female characters.

Without giving away too much, one portion of the book deals with fighting the Mexican cartels trying to seize power in south Texas, and another part covers some of the characters in Tennessee who are fighting with marauders.

As far as the story lines, I was not keen on the overpowered cartel.  While I agree that cartels would cause a lot of trouble in a grid down disaster, I imagine they would not be as profitable or have the economic ability to fund a war if the economy collapsed and drug sales went down.  Another aspect of the story I was wondering about was what the federal government was doing and why the states pulled away.  However, there was enough action in the story to keep me turning the pages.

Besides the action in the book, I liked the continuing focus on the small group of characters.   I hope to see the characters continue to develop.  The author also has an extensive knowledge of firearms which provides some good detail.  I look forward to the next installment of The Homefront series.

© Apartment Prepper 2014


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Book Review: The Last Layover by Steven C. Bird

the last layover

This post is by Bernie Carr,

I had the pleasure of reading The Last Layover:  The New Homefront Volume 1 by Steven C. Bird as part of Survivor Jane’s preparedness books blog tour.

What is the book about?  The Last Layover is an e-book, a work of fiction in which an airline crew finds themselves in a grid down disaster while in a layover in New York City.  They must find their way back to their homes while dealing with violence, loss of infrastructure and chaos.

What I thought about the book 

I was very interested in reading the story, as the topic speaks to one of my fears:  being in a disaster while being far from home.   It was easy to place one’s self in the shoes of the characters.  I  liked the characters and agreed with their choices and actions.

The book initially covered much detail about flying and the piloting life.  While informative, I felt the background info was a bit too long.  I would have preferred more details about what caused the breakdown.  I wondered why the local police and sheriffs were strangely absent – the only detail given was they were protecting their families.  Perhaps some of the questions would be answered in the sequel.  I also felt the last part of the book seemed to be rushed, considering the hardships and roadblocks described getting from Delaware to Ohio, the trip from Ohio to Tennessee seemed to go quickly and without incident.

Overall, I thought it had a good story and I enjoyed reading it.  I thought the characters were very believable and it was easy to relate to them.  The book was fast paced and had enough action to hold my attention and I was able to finish it in a couple of days.  If you are looking for a quick and enjoyable read, I recommend you pick up The Last Layover. 

The Last Layover and its sequel, The Guardians: The New Homefront Volume 2 are available Amazon.


© Apartment Prepper 2014

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“If the Ebola Threat were to Escalate, Isolation would be Key” — Jim Cobb, Author of Countdown to Preparedness

Countdown to Preparedness

Today we are featuring Jim Cobb’s latest book, Countdown to Preparedness:  The Prepper’s 52-Week Course to Total Disaster Readiness.

I had the opportunity to read Countdown to Preparedness and found lots of helpful advice.  It breaks down the idea of preparing for both short term disasters into manageable steps that can be done in 52 weeks.  Of course you can take shortcuts if you are able to or stretch out the time period according to your finances and time constraints.  I appreciate the budget minded approach, as many families are daunted by large expenses.

Jim Cobb’s books have been featured on Apartment Prepper previously and we are pleased to have this encore interview.

1.  Given the fears about the ebola virus, what is your current state of alertness (on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest level) regarding this issue and why?

As it stands right now, I’d say I’m at a 2.5 or so.  Ebola is on my radar,
but I’m not really losing any sleep over the threat just yet.

2.  If the threat of ebola were to escalate, what is the best approach for a city dweller?

Isolation would be key.  If someone in an urban area were able to quickly
and safely get into a less populated area, that would be ideal.  If that’s
not a viable option, be prepared to hunker down and wait it out, which
could take weeks or even months.

3.  Residents and tourists in Hawaii breathed a sigh of relief as the two hurricanes threatening the islands passed without incident.  Many readers are confused about being prepared while flying to a destination, either for business or personal.   What is the best way to be prepared while on vacation or traveling for business?

When possible, I much prefer to drive to my destination, given that I can
obviously carry more gear with me.  Flying is problematic when it comes to
survival equipment.

It might be seen as being “overly prepared” but what I’ve been doing is
shipping a small box to my hotel ahead of my arrival.  Said box contains a
small amount of survival gear — food, water filter, first aid kit, knife,
etc.  Not a ton of stuff, but enough to give me a leg up if I were to need
to evacuate without having access to my regular kits.

Now for the Giveaway:

Please answer the following questions for a chance to win a copy of Countdown to Preparedness:  The Prepper’s 52-Week Course to Total Disaster Readiness.

Are you prepared for emergencies when traveling?  What steps do you take to be prepared?

The winner* will be chosen at a random “Pick a Giveaway Winner” drawing on Friday,  August 22 at 8 pm Central.  *Winner will be notified via email.  Winner must reply to email notification within 48 hours or another winner will be drawn.

This giveaway is now closed.

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Forsaking Home by A. American – Book Review

Forsaking HomeToday we are looking at Forsaking Home, Book 4 of the Survivalist Series by A. American.  As you know, I am a fan of the Survivalist Series, having reviewed the books in the past.  As soon as I heard the fourth book was available for review, I jumped at the chance.

As a quick summary, Forsaking Home delves into what our main character, Morgan Carter has to do for his family’s survival in the aftermath of the failure of the electric grid.  At the same time, the book also covers the actions of Sarge, who plans to take down a refugee camp run by oppressors.

I enjoyed reading this book and was happy to find out what happened after we left off in the third book.  However, I the book felt divided to me, as about 1/3 of the book dealt with Morgan Carter and his family, and 2/3 dealt with Sarge and the planned take down of the camp.  I would have preferred more of the book dedicated to Morgan, as I was more attached to Morgan’s character than Sarge.

As in the previous books, you can pick up some great survival tips as you are reading Forsaking Home.  The story moves along at a satisfying pace, and keeps the reader interested in the unfolding events.

I like the books overall, and hope this is not the final book in the series.

Now for the giveaway…

If you have not started reading the books, this is a great opportunity!  One winner can win all four books in the entire series.

Going Home

Surviving Home

Escaping Home

Forsaking Home

To enter, please leave a comment below regarding:

What outdoor or bushcraft skills are you most interested in learning and why?

The winner* will be chosen at a random “Pick a Giveaway Winner” drawing on Saturday, July 26th at 8 pm Central.

*Winner will be notified via email.  Winner must reply to email notification within 48 hours or another winner will be drawn.



3 Signs it’s Time to Bug Out – Interview with Jim Cobb, Author of Prepper’s Long Term Survival Guide

Prepper's Long Term Survival GuideToday we are featuring the book, Prepper’s Long Term Survival Guide, the latest book by Jim Cobb, whom we have interviewed in the past.

Prepper’s Long Term Survival Guide gives vital information on how to survive long after a disaster has struck.  It  teaches readers practical tips on how to cope with problems and challenges that could last months or years in the aftermath of a large scale disaster.

In light of the subject, I sent Jim Cobb a few questions for an encore interview:

1. Hygiene would be a huge issue in a long term disaster especially in
the city – how should apartment and city dwellers approach this?

There are two basic facets to hygiene planning — cleanliness and waste

Personal hygiene needs can be accomplished with minimal water, far less
than most people realize.  Hands should be washed after toileting and hand
sanitizer can be used for this purpose, saving water that would normally
just run down the drain.  Sponge bathing can be done with as little as two
cups of water, believe it or not.  Use one cup for dampening a washcloth
and lathering a bit of soap.  Then, use another washcloth, dampened with
the second cup, to rinse.  Not nearly as refreshing as a hot shower, I’ll
grant you, but it’ll do the job.

As for waste disposal, burying or burning are really the only two viable
options.  For either option, I suggest scoping out a nearby vacant lot, if
one is available, for this purpose.

 2.  Security would be even more difficult but crucial in a societal
 collapse:  at the minimum, what are some steps an apartment dweller can
take now?

The “gray man” approach is the first advisable course of action.  Utilize
back doors to apartment buildings, if possible, so you aren’t advertising
your presence by going in and out through the main entrance.  Keep lights
to a minimum at night and cover the windows with landscape fabric to
prevent that light from being seen from the outside.  While your neighbors
will obviously know you are still around, of course, you want to do
whatever you can to keep casual observers from the “outside world” in the
dark, so to speak.

3. Finally, there may come a time you can no longer stay in the city but
 need to bug out:  what are some signs to watch for indicating it’s time
to leave?  Where could one go?

Signs it is time to head for your bug out location:

1) Stores aren’t receiving shipments of any new product.  This indicates a
disruption in the supply chains and is a clue that the disaster isn’t
going to be “fixed” overnight.

2) Reliable information indicating looting and rioting are happening on a
mass scale and possibly headed your way.  By this, I mean you received the
information from a reputable source, rather than your neighbor telling you
her son’s girlfriend’s bestie heard from a guy on her block that a woman
told him she’d heard something about it last week.

3) Emergency services are overwhelmed.  If calls to 911 aren’t being
answered, that’s a strong indicator that you are on your own, at least for
the immediate future.

As for where to go, I strongly advise all preppers, whether they are urban
dwellers or live out in the sticks, should have at least three separate
potential bug out locations planned out ahead of time.  Ideally, these
locations will be in different directions from your home.  For example, to
the north is Grandpa’s old hunting cabin, to the east is your college
roommate’s home, and to the southwest is Aunt Sally.  This way, if the
routes to your primary bug out location aren’t feasible you have backups.

Bugging out is generally the least favorable option after a disaster but
it is important to plan ahead for that contingency.

After I finished reading Prepper’s Long Term Survival Guide I had a list of storage items and other aspects needing improvement in my own household.  Read Prepper’s Long Term Survival Guide and you’ll learn some valuable insights.

Now for the Giveaway:

Please answer the following questions for a chance to win a copy of Prepper’s Long Term Survival Guide

What are your most pressing concerns regarding long term survival where you live?  What are you doing to mitigate these worries?

The winner* will be chosen at a random “Pick a Giveaway Winner” drawing on Friday,  June 27th at 8 pm Central.  *Winner will be notified via email.  Winner must reply to email notification within 48 hours or another winner will be drawn.


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Survivor Max – Book Review and Giveaway

Survivor MaxI just finished reading Survivor Max:  Too Smart to Die by Davi Barker.  The story starts out when Max, an 11 year old boy, finds himself in a school lockdown.  He escapes and runs home, only to find that his father who was researching the disease, has already fallen victim to the “plague.”  His apartment complex is overrun with the infected who feed on humans, whom he calls “lamebrains.”  Max must use his wits to to survive, using his Porcupine Freedom Scouts training, knowledge of science and scavenged supplies.

The story is very fast paced, and once you start, is very hard to put down.  Max is a very capable and likeable character.   The story is fast paced and enjoyable to read.  Max does seem a lot older than his 11 years – he knew a lot more than your average middle school child, but this did not detract from the story.

I also liked that Max lived in an apartment complex and the book showed how quickly things can get much worse in a multi-family dwelling.  Max does a good job gathering his resources and rigging up contraptions to foil the “lamebrains” and escape.  The story imparts a great lesson that having skills and a preparedness mindset are essential to survival.  I think the book would be enjoyable for both younger (age 9 and up) and older readers.  I recommend Survivor Max as a fun summer read.

Now for the giveaway…

To enter, please answer the following question in the Comments below:

What is your favorite zombie book, show or movie, and why?

The winner* will be chosen at a random “Pick a Giveaway Winner” drawing on Friday,  June 20th at 8 pm Central.  *Winner will be notified via email.  Winner must reply to email notification within 48 hours or another winner will be drawn.


© Apartment Prepper 2014

Show young kids that being prepared can be fun!

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Book Review: The Shadow Patriots by Warren Ray

The Shadow PatriotsToday we are featuring The Shadow Patriots by Warren Ray.

What is the book is about?    The country is in a crisis as the government breaks down and violent riots become commonplace with police firing on citizens.  The Chinese invade California prompting the military to send all their troops west, but the war is a disaster.  As the casualties mount, the government calls for volunteers.  The hero of the story Cole Winters, a middle aged guy, answers the call to fight for his country.  This is where the story takes a twist:  Cole finds out about a plot to kill the new recruits and now he must try to save them while trying to find the truth being these heinous actions.

The book starts out in a slow build-up but it has a good premise and a storyline that keeps you interested.   The author paints a good picture of the prevailing attitudes of the populace:  complacent, self entitled and addicted to handouts.   As the story’s action scenes unfolded, I would have also liked a more detailed description of weapons used as he tended to overuse the generic term “machine guns.”  I had some difficulty believing that there was no uproar over the missing recruits, not even from friends and family who all lost touch with them as soon as they signed up in the recruiting centers.  Granted, the government controlled the media, and the military was weakened; however, even in a media blackout, people would be able communicate over ham radio or even local gossip and word would get around.

All in all, The Shadow Patriots would be a good choice for a weekend read.  I look forward to the next book and hope the author develops his characters and action sequences with more details.

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