I've been reading a fair number of "survival"-type books recently, both wilderness and home survival. I think this one will be the last for a while as I'm getting filled up with the genre. That said, I think this was a good book to choose to end with. To start with, the author (Kathy Harrison) is a good deal less paranoid and a good deal more practical than most urban survivalists. Which is why I bought this book. If you're expecting any discussion of necessary guns, armor, or anti-government tactics, this book is not for you.
Rather, it's a book that outlines how to be more self-sufficient and how to cope with potential disasters that affect you and your home. The book includes general discussions of power-loss, fire, terrorist attacks, chemical and nuclear accidents, storms, pandemics, a small bit about wilderness survival, and a good bit of talk about self-sufficiency, especially with regards to food. In that regard, I think the book goes a little over-board in talking about building up a one-year supply of emergency food. As with other books that I've read, I think that if civilization craps out to the point where there's no food for a year, we'll all be so far up the creek that surviving an extra year will be the least of your worries. It's pretty hard to imagine anything short of a planet-wrecking asteroid or nuclear war leading to a scenario requiring one year's worth of food in your basement!
In fact, we just had a huge wind storm here that knocked out the power for half a day. This is the kind of thing I'm interested in reading about. A few days worth of food storage, a week or two if things are really awful. Which is why I found this book less-than-perfect. Kathy states how nice it is now that survivalism has gone "mainstream" (has it?) and now she isn't considered a paranoid wacko anymore. But I don't know. Lining up shoes beside your kids beds and keeping the floor clear to exits at night seems a little over-the-top to me. Sure, practice fire safety, develop a plan, practice it with your kids (all things she advocates). But make sure before they go to sleep they have a safe escape route or an escape bag packed and ready to go? "If I die before I wake..." kind of advice if you ask me! As mentioned, the book also includes a lot of writing about food. Food is nice, but it's hardly the most important thing in a critical situation, even over a period of days. The large final section about how to cook with emergency food rations was interesting, but not likely to be terribly useful.
So once more, this is a book that's probably tailored to someone more anxious and worried than I am. Yes, it's important to be prepared. Yes, self-sufficiency is a good thing (I look forward to trying her recipe for home-made mozzarella). But I'm not going to be telling my children to keep a close eye on their shoes before they fall asleep in case the house catches fire, terrorists attack, or a nuclear-reactor somewhere blows up. Life is short. By all means, prepare yourself for the unexpected, but also take the time to stop worrying and enjoy life a little. This book does deliver more of that message than any other survival book that I've read, but I still tend to follow that message even further. For that reason, for me, it's a four-star book.