Sunday, November 27, 2011

Reading is Fundamental

As an avid reader, it amazes me how fewer and fewer people these days seem to enjoy sitting down with a good book. Even with devices out there such as the Amazon Kindle, which can hold up to 1,400 books in a space barely larger than the palm of your hand! As someone who is continuing along the path to being a better sheepdog, I am a student of how the past, the present, and the future may influence my life, my liberty, and my safety. I am a pupil of those who have experienced things which I have not, and that also makes me an observer of those who do not share my beliefs, since I must learn all I can about their way of life. There is so much knowledge to gain from so many sources, and the internet is certainly a great resource for doing so. That being said, it is important to ensure that the advice and/or knowledge you gain which you want to incorporate into your life comes from reliable sources who actually know what they are talking about, or at the very least have some experience on the subject matter.

Over the years I have read a great many books, and while so many of them have been excellent sources of both entertainment and education, there are a few that stand out as exceptional, and certainly applicable to what we teach here at Independence Training. I'd like to give you a short list of just a few of these titles, and if you end up reading them, or have already read them, please leave your own review in the comments section below.

"On Combat" - Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. This book is for civilians as much as it is for law-enforcement officers and military personnel. Part of our concept of Sheep, Sheepdog, and Wolves is derived from this book, and I recommend it to every responsible citizen that I meet. Grossman does an excellent job of detailing, in plain language, the effects of lethal force encounters, from slowed time and altered realities to parasympathetic response and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). At one point in the book, Grossman takes a side path to talk about one of his major areas of study - the effects of media violence on kids - and while this section is interesting by itself, I didn't feel it had a place in "On Combat," but that's my only major gripe.

"Lone Survivor" - Marcus Luttrell. The story of a Navy SEAL mission in Afghanistan gone awry, Luttrell was the lone survivor of his team after a massive enemy ambush. Wounded, outnumbered, outgunned, alone, and way behind enemy lines, Luttrell evades capture, aids the resistance, and ultimately survives. Now a spokesperson for the NRA as well as a motivational speaker and national icon, Luttrell is the embodiment of the warrior spirit. I recommend this book not only as a glimpse into the harrowing combat situations that our special operations fighting men encounter, but also as a look at how mindset and determination are the ultimate deciding factors any rough situation.

"When All Hell Breaks Loose" - Cody Lundin. Most urban survival books fall into one of two categories: over-the-top survivalist or fictional zombie apocalypse. Cody has his own category: realistic. Whether it's a power outage or an economic collapse, this book will show you how to make the most of what you have, and how to survive despite potentially overwhelming odds. His often comedic approach to the proper preparation and mindset needed to get the job done will keep you engaged throughout the book, and there are lots of illustrations and pictures, as well.

"After You Shoot" - Alan Korwin. What you do after you use lethal force in a self-defense situation is a topic that not many people consider. Most see themselves as getting a pat on the back from the police and then going about their merry way, perhaps a little shaken up but none too worse for wear. The reality, however, is much different than that, and if you carry or keep a firearm for self-defense, you need to read this book. Period.

"How To Win On The Battlefield" - Rob Johnson / Michael Whitby / John France. Battlefield tactics aren't necessarily something that I recommend as reading material to our students, but in this case the book is so well put together and so clearly written that I highly advise it. There's a lot to learn about overwhelming your enemy by studying battles from history, and with sections such as 'Counter-Attack' and 'Deception and Feints', a lot of the information contained in this book falls right in line with what we teach in our courses. While it's geared towards a larger force, the tactics and techniques outlined can still be used against a handful of attackers.

"One Second After" - William R. Forstchen. The only fictional novel on this list is the story of life and survival in American after an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) essentially sends us back to the Dark Ages. This book portrays such a realistic look at the effects of EMPs that it has been discussed amongst members of Congress and at the Pentagon as a book that every American needs to read. This book could have gone on for another 500 pages and I would have happily continued to read it.

So there's a few books for you to consider, and I hope that you will take the time to purchase or borrow them and then spend the time necessary to digest them from cover to cover. Remember, being a sheepdog is not a destination - it's a journey, and it's a journey that you need to be well-informed on.

Stay Aware, Stay Safe, and Train Hard.