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The Premise: From time to time, we find a survival book that is refreshingly different from the multitude of similar manuals that currently exist in the market. The Disaster Diaries: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Apocalypse utilizes theoretical disasters as a backdrop to demonstrate real survival knowledge from experts throughout our nation. The author of The Disaster Diaries, Sam Sheridan, accomplishes this goal through storytelling that’s both thoughtful and playful.
From basic skills (such as how to make fire and hunt) to learning how to maneuver a vehicle through a zombie-infested city, Sheridan plays to our sense of adventure to showcase practical skills. Sheridan learns from the nation’s most unlikely practitioners of skillsets that bring a broad base of knowledge of overlooked techniques. Want to learn how to train your body during the apocalypse from an Olympic weight lifter? Do you need to learn how to steal a car from an ex-gang banger who showcases his street knowledge? Sheridan brings his readers with him to explore the spectrum of survival one skill at a time.
The 411: If calamity decimated the world through a massive earthquake, would you have enough food and water to last a week? Could you hot-wire a car to outmaneuver the shock wave of a thermonuclear blast? Similar questions, and many more, have occurred to Sheridan through his sleepless nights as a young father. This has prompted Sheridan to put his family’s safety at the forefront of his quest to be a more well-rounded disaster expert, and is his foundational purpose for writing The Disaster Diaries. Sheridan, an amateur boxer and mixed martial arts fighter, has developed a survivor’s mentality from his years as an EMT, wilderness firefighter, sailor, and a Montana ranch cowboy.
Each chapter is focused on Sheridan learning a new and practical survival skill from experts around the world, and is predicated by some outlandish yet entertaining disaster scenarios that range from super earthquakes to the zombie apocalypse. While his research is dead serious, Sheridan’s tone is quirky and comedic, always appealing to his readers through a relatable and down-to-earth delivery of his journey.
The Verdict: The Disaster Diaries stands apart as a refreshing addition to the extensive amount of reading that currently saturates the preparedness market. Although it serves as a teaching tool, it proves itself as an enjoyable narrative in which you’re invited to follow the author on his personal journey, making it the reader’s journey as well. Each chapter stands alone, much like a manual, but carries the story arc of Sheridan’s transition into a knowledgeable survivalist. Throughout the book, Sheridan keeps his reader motivated as he reminds himself of why he instigated this journey in the first place, which was to protect his family from the worst this world has to throw at them. For the prepper who has enveloped themselves in the “sport” of disaster survival, Sheridan does an excellent job in veering his readers away from narcissistic motives and instead paints the picture that preparing for disasters should be founded on selfless acts for those you love.
It’s here where Sheridan begins to shine as he uses his journalistic instincts to paint a picture that showcases our lack of readiness, which overlooks skillsets that are practical in a cataclysmic world. The end result is a call to action that’s both sobering and humorous, mentoring us to think outside of the box and embrace the fact that our survival is not dependent upon others to save us, but on our capable shoulders alone. Sheridan hopes to provoke us to take our own measures to prepare for catastrophe and successfully reaches across the “prepper’s table” to bring in a wider audience.
The Disaster Diaries is irresistible in its charm as it weaves its readers through an adventure of learning and imagination, especially for those who want to learn to survive cataclysm from someone who is in the midst of struggling to learn the same skills. It’s an upbeat and entertaining survival guide for the end of the world as well as mundane disasters. It appeals to a wide range of ages, backgrounds, and mentalities. What Sheridan has done with The Disaster Diaries is make his journey real to his readers, drawing in new crowds to the world of disaster preparedness who otherwise might not want to read a traditional survival manual.
Book & Author
The Disaster Diaries: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Apocalypse
By Sam Sheridan
Penguin Books 2014
$17 (Amazon paperback version)
Tactics and Firearms
Skillsets and DIY
Novels and Literature
Scenarios and Survival