I didn’t want to read One Second After by William R. Forstchen. I knew it was a dismal and depressing book, so I procrastinated. I read rave reviews of the book, and I knew the general storyline but hesitated because the book reflects one of my deepest fears — trying to survive long-term without a power grid.
Table of contents
A Note from The Survival Mom
There was a time years ago when the idea of a High-altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP,) such as the one described in this book, terrified me. However, I don’t believe that’s a realistic scenario anymore. It’s too widespread and renders critical infrastructure useless to the attacker as well.
Instead, localized EMP events, sabotage, and, to a lesser extent, Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) are what we need to be prepared for. For example, something along the lines of this attack on a California substation is exactly what I would expect to happen.
While this review is written from nationwide blackout standpoint, many of the observations and prepping ideas are still applicable to smaller scale event.
Now, on to the review…
Learn what you absolutely must do in the first critical hours following an EMP or other massive power grid failure.
Make every second count.
My EMP Survival e-book and 4-email mini e-course show you how.
What is One Second After About?
When I finally forced myself to read it I found it as dismal, depressing, and discouraging as expected. I much prefer an economic collapse to a post-EMP world.
One Second After is a post-apocalyptic novel set in the small town of Black Mountain, North Carolina. It tracks the events following an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the United States. The story depicts the rapid breakdown of society as all electronic systems are rendered useless. Modern conveniences such as cars, airplanes, all communication, medical equipment, etc., poof, unusable.
The main character, John Matherson, a retired Army Colonel and history professor, becomes a leader in the chaotic aftermath, grappling with scarcity, violence, and the challenges of a world without technology. The novel serves as a cautionary tale, emphasizing the vulnerability of modern society and the importance of preparedness in the face of disaster.
Click here to purchase the book on Amazon.
One Second After Paints a Fearful Picture
The possibility of a future EMP event resonates with millions of people in America and around the globe because the results would be devastating. From my book, Survival Mom: How to prepare your family for everyday disasters and worst-case scenarios, I wrote:
“The consequences would be devastating and casualties would, eventually, be in the millions. (Remember, this is the worst-case scenario!) Communities would have little protection of police and fire departments. Prisoners would easily be able to escape, and it wouldn’t take long for hospital generators to run out of fuel and no longer be able to care for patients. Much of the military’s equipment and transportation would be rendered useless to a large degree, unless the machinery has been hardened to be either EMP-resistant or EMP-proof.
Backup generators for electrical plants, including nuclear power plants, and city water and sewage systems would run out of fuel in short order. In fact, there’s a good chance the generators themselves would be of no use because they, too, contain electronic components. We saw something similar happen in Japan after the calamitous earthquake and tsunami in 2011, when fuel for backup generators didn’t arrive in time to prevent a meltdown.
If you happen to be on vacation when an EMP burst happens, you would likely never be able to return home. How does a family of four walk from Disney World to Richmond? It’s likely you would never hear from loved ones again, unless they lived within walking distance and traveling that distance by foot was safe, which is doubtful. That Emergency Broadcasting System that interrupts your favorite TV programs would be just as dead as your cell phone and laptop computer.”
15 Observations and Prepping Ideas
Here are just a few things that stuck with me after reading One Second After and pondering how it would affect me, personally, and ideas for preparing for such an event.After I finally forced myself to read "One Second After," I much prefer a complete collapse of the economy to what this book describes. Click To Tweet
- Buy an Edsel. Or not. Having viable transportation in a SHTF scenario, in this case, an EMP attack, immediately makes one vulnerable to theft and violence. On the other hand, transportation will save lives. The flip side of that is that any operating vehicle is an easy target for theft or “confiscation” by authorities. Each member of my family now owns a high-quality bicycle with spare tires. I next want to build at least 2 small trailers that we could pull behind the bikes to carry supplies, groceries, etc.
- In a true end of the world scenario, stocking up on food will be viewed as hoarding and susceptible to confiscation. There will be a definite line between the haves and have-nots, even if the haves only have two more cans of soup than everyone else.
- In One Second After, transportation becomes a significant problem. Distances that, today, are insignificant. But consider if you don’t have transportation. If you’re stranded far away post-EMP you may never again see loved ones or even your own home. Especially if you had to walk through miles of the desert or other difficult terrains.
- I really don’t want to be one who dies off because of poor health and fitness. I want to be physically strong enough to walk many miles, carrying supplies, riding a bike for days at a time, etc. Now is the time to take care of health issues and begin to build strength, endurance, and optimal health. You can read more about easy ways to improve your fitness level in this article.
- Being a refugee places you in so much danger, that hunkering down, no matter where is probably preferable.
- Young men will be at a premium for hard physical labor and security. I need to get both my daughter and son into martial arts and speed up their firearm training!
- There will be a window of time, initially, in which very few people will realize what has happened. That is probably true in many different types of crises. It will be vital to process and accept reality as quickly as possible.
- There’s probably no such thing as storing too much food. Just be sure to rotate it and keep it as safe as possible from the enemies of food storage.
- If injured anywhere on my body, no matter how minor it seems, take it seriously! And stock up on a good first aid kit and plenty of hand sanitizer.
- Paranoia may keep me alive. A Hazmat suit probably wouldn’t hurt.
- Stock up on books like the Foxfire series, Mother Earth News, books about pioneer skills, and first aid manuals. We own just about every Backwoods Home anthology, and I’ve assigned articles to my kids as school projects. Here are my suggestions for more books I recommend everyone have on their bookshelf.
- Check out antique stores and estate sales for all sorts of low-tech, pre-computer age tools and appliances. Make a game out of preparing without spending much money.
- Skills and supplies are equally important. In One Second After, it’s a group of young college kids who knew a bit about foraging who helped out.
- Contrary to the events written about in Patriots, an EMP event would be the absolute worst-case scenario, hands down.
- It would be worth my time to research What’s in Your Faraday Cage? A Common Sense Guide to Preparing For an EMP.
Final Thoughts About One Second After
“One Second After” by William R. Forstchen is a gripping and thought-provoking post-apocalyptic novel that leaves a lasting impact. It reminds us to appreciate our modern conveniences yet also fosters a sense of preparedness and resilience. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in post-apocalyptic fiction. It’s a stark reminder of the importance of community, adaptability, and hope in the face of unimaginable adversity.
What are your thoughts on the probability of the events in One Second After?
Originally published July 14, 2019; updated and revised by Team Survival Mom.