The Premise: The term “gray man” has been around for a long time and basically references an individual who can blend into his or her surroundings to not draw attention for reasons of individual security or operational success in a more tactical/professional setting. I started as a novice in 2000 and have been receiving training from the U.S. government ever since in low-vis and clandestine operations. After 17 years, I still feel like I’m learning, but I also know when an expert in this genre knows what he or she is speaking about.
Gray Man is a recent foray into a topic that’s discussed on blogs and internet forums galore. The author, Matthew Dermody, is very knowledgeable on the subjects of camouflage and concealment. He has other books on the topic as well as instructionals at his website hiddensuccesstactical.com, and knows how to explain these topics clearly to anyone from novices to experts.
Overall, Gray Man is an excellent and resourceful book for someone who wants to know more about the subject, be it those who can’t afford more expensive experience-based courses or individuals who’ve never had military training. It also helps quell some of the online chatter on the topic and is a good resource to differentiate fact from opinion.
The 411: Gray Man consists of 11 chapters with a foreword and a conclusion, along with a few extra pages with useful websites to go to for more information or to purchase certain items you may need if you decide to practice this book’s. Some of these items would be considered everyday carry (EDC), which can be somewhat subjective and reliant on individual preference. The chapters discuss topics such as what the gray man concept is, what stimuli is and how it can affect the gray man, self-control, situational sense, surveillance, and several topics related to the overarching theme. The chapters are presented in a well-written and calculated order that helps the reader build on the knowledge from the previous chapter.
There’s no fluff or filler, just straight factual information for you to read, remember, and apply. One of the more important topics Mr. Dermody speaks about is situational sense, which he describes as a blending of situational awareness and common sense. I found that information to be very applicable to everyday life in and around the world in any situation. Situational sense is what we should all strive to master on a daily basis. I know using it has kept me alive in many situations in overseas environments. Every other chapter is full of similar useful and practical information as well.
The book was so easy to read, understand, and engage with that I was able to go through it all in one fell swoop. Some of the topics Dermody writes about will not be new to every reader, such as various basic self-awareness techniques and discussion points like what attire to wear and how to move, but I guarantee there’ll be several gray-man fundamentals you read that’ll make you aware of your own daily inadequacies.
If you choose to implement the author’s suggestions you will greatly enhance your ability to stay in the gray area when you want to. The only complaints I have about the book are very minor. One is the lack of color photos, and the only other is that I wish it had been longer and more in depth. However, I can tell the author intentionally kept it simple and didn’t want to write so much that it could potentially make the reader suffer from sensory overload, leading to a failure to remember and apply these lessons.
The Verdict: I’d recommend this book to almost anyone, including current and former military members. It’ll help you to understand how you can improve to minimize your presence on a daily basis, as well as skills that you may have forgotten over time or were never made aware of to begin with. Undercover police officers, private investigators, overseas contractors, and the average traveler will all benefit from reading this book. Not standing out, especially as an American in certain places, has many advantages in our current political climate. This book can help all of us to better understand discreet travel, dress, behavior, and situational awareness.
Book & Author
Gray Man: Camouflage For Crowds, Cities, and Civil Crisis