Book Review: Lights Out

How long would it take for the foundations of society to begin to erode once the conveniences that we take for granted, that we depend on, are no longer available? What if the electricity was suddenly switched off? What if clean, drinkable water became a scarcity within a week? What if food was rationed and then wasn’t available at all?

Just how long would our civility last? How long would it be before everyday life would denigrate into the lawlessness of the wild west?

Life After An EMP Attack

In Lights Out, David Crawford explores these questions in a compelling and engaging way. The fictional, yet realistic, novel is set in a small town near San Antonio, Texas, shortly after an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) eliminates most of the America’s modern conveniences. No one is sure what has happened or how long it’ll last. The government promises relief and a quick return to normalcy, yet the threads that keep society woven together continue to unravel.

Residents of the small town must learn to work together while coping with hardships and surprises along the way. Interpersonal conflicts arising from strong-willed characters, life and death decisions that must be made with imperfect information, and the constant struggle for survival in a new reality make this book a good read for the prepper and non-prepper alike.

Not A SOP Book

As with other EMP novels, purists may disagree with the specific effects of an EMP that the author incorporates in the story. However, Crawford seems to have done quite a bit of research into the subject and his projected implications are certainly plausible.

At times, some technical aspects of how the residents adapt are significantly glossed over. For example, the main character finds that many of the affected vehicles can be retrofitted with older parts so that they can run again. No details are given on how that’s accomplished. But this is not entirely bad.

Unlike Rawles in Patriots, Crawford errs on the side of caution when providing technical details. This book is not intended to be a crash course in Standard Operating Procedures guised as a novel. Instead the storyline is put first and this works well.

A Read Worthy Of Your Time

In my opinion, Lights Out stands on its own as a good work of literature. You can lend your copy to non-prepper friends and use it as a way to help introduce them to the need for preparing for an uncertain future.

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24 Comments on “Book Review: Lights Out”

  1. Jarhead Survivor Says:

    I read this when it was a an online freebie. Has it changed much since then?


  2. Jarhead Survivor Says:

    Oh yeah, I remember it being a pretty good read. It was a little rough, but very enjoyable. If there was any one takeaway lesson from the book it would be that a community that pulls together in time of crisis like this would have an advantage on those that don’t.


  3. Portland Prepper Says:

    Great read! I just hope that communities really will come together and help out. I am worried about todays society where everyone wants everything for nothing.. We are trying to prepare by learning basic skills and putting away some food storage. We buy freeze dried and dehydrated food that can be stored for up to 25 years. My wife and I decided to take our entire tax return this year and spend it on food provisions. We got a years supply of freeze dried food and hid it in our basement. Found a great deal at Usually we would spend the tax return on furniture or vacation… not this year. Times have changed! If times get better we’ll just eat the food. It’s a good investment. We look at it as food insurance.


  4. Displaced2 Says:

    I like Preppers Road March, it deals with this tpe of event happening naturaly

    A solar storm has just hit the world causing a EMP event. A emergency manager visiting Atlanta GA must find his way back home after this electromagnetic pulse has stranded him away from his vehicle and his beloved “bug out bag”. With 180 miles to go to his destination, David must let his street smarts and survival skills kick in as food and water becomes scarce and societal breakdown proceeds at an unrelenting pace. An interesting and often funny cast of characters from the Deep South helps the displaced Prepper on his way, as he shares his knowledge of how to make do with common items in order to live another day. Ultimately, he acquires an old tractor and heads for home on a car-littered interstate. This is book one of the Prepper Trilogy.


    • Joe Says:

      Thanks, Displaced2. Sounds like a good plot.

      In fact when I travel, that’s a concern for me. I cannot take my 72-hour kit with me very easily so I would be caught a long way from home with few supplies. One of the many reasons I try to limit my travel these days.


      • Jarhead Survivor Says:

        I ran into that same dilemma having a big bug-out bag and here’s what I did. Instead of a large backpack with all the survival gear I need for three days I took a small school sized backpack and put just a few basics in. Knife and firesteel, small stove and fuel and cookware, a couple of home made MREs, poncho, bandana, a few other small odds and ends. That way I can set it next to my desk at work and nobody even notices it.

        In reality you don’t need a whole lot more than that to SURVIVE for a few days. Comfort might be a different story, but at least I have the basics with me.


        • Joe Says:

          Great point Jarhead. In my truck have a a couple of small totes with most every kind of supply I may need. If I’m stranded and have to travel, I have a backpack in there that I can load with the supplies that I deem most necessary for the trip.

          The problem I have is when I travel by plane. The TSA frowns on many of the things I have in my personal survival kit, must less my 72-hour bag. And I don’t really want to check it either.



        • Joe Says:

          By the way, Jarhead. After another discusion we had online, I’ve given the firesteel another shot. I’ll have to say that I like it as well as the magnesium block I’ve been carrying in my EDC. The key is to get a good quality firesteel rather than a cheap version.

          Thanks for the insight.



          • Jarhead Survivor Says:

            That’s absolutely right! If you get a *quality* firesteel you won’t go wrong. I bought a small one at Walmart (you get what you pay for) and it sucked. The good thing about it was that if you get adept at lighting a fire with a lousy one when you get a good one it seems really easy.

            I’m getting one for my brother in law for Christmas. He and my sister were camping at a campground over the weekend and he couldn’t light a fire with a match and paper! I whipped out my knife and whittled some wood off and then used my firesteel to light a fire in just a few minutes. He was amazed.


  5. displaced2 Says:

    Ponch is my number one tool for survival. I got a real military issue one in my kit. I wont depend on a disposble one and the extra weight is gold gor me. I can make a tent, sleeping bag, lay in the dirt well as collect water or make a raft out of it if I had too by filling it with brush.


    • Joe Says:

      Absolutely. A good poncho has many uses in a survival kit. That’s a good thing to look for an any piece of equipment – does it serve more than one use?



    • Jarhead Survivor Says:

      After thinking about it I’d put a poncho around #3 on the list with a knife and a firesteel coming just ahead of it. But you’re definitely right about all the things you can do with it. And like Joe mentioned about gear above, if you’re going to get one, get a good one. The military ponchos are the best I’ve seen and I own a few of them. One is all white for snow camo, and I have another all green NATO poncho and then I have standard woodland camo. If you add a poncho liner you’re all set in the sleep department down to about 40 degrees (with a fire you can go colder.)


  6. Mr Bill Says:

    Great book, well worth the money. If you like “End of the World” books, you’ll like this one. Great characters.



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