Anyone who has read the Prepper Journal for any length of time knows that I frequently use scenarios from prepper movies or books as examples of possible scenarios that I have considered for various reasons. I do this all of the time I guess, drawing inspiration from the works of others. Maybe, inspiration is the wrong word, but I do get ideas from reading scenarios that others have dreamed of or have brought to life on the big screen. If nothing else, the disasters we read about in prepper or survivalist books give our minds a chance to imagine ourselves in that situation and offer a subconscious exercise at seeing how you think you might deal with a problem if you were in the same predicament.
Some situations are more out there obviously. I don’t think for a second I would ever have the skills to single-handedly take on an invading force and subdue them all with my ex-Navy Seal tactics. Some movies are simple entertainment and I really appreciate the escapism they afford.
Other movies or books portray a more common and believable scenario that you could find yourself in, like say the beginnings of an economic collapse. This potential plot line is easy to believe and it isn’t much of a stretch to see yourself going through the motions of the slow decay of society. How would you act if situations presented themselves to you where the safety of your family was on the line and you needed to act?
It is just that type of scenario that started Richard Earl Broome’s series that started with “Leaving the Trees”. The story follows two bands of competing groups that are left after an economic implosion. His follow-up to the story, Good Crazy delves more into the back story of two characters and their lives up to the collapse, giving you a glimpse into the events preceding the collapse and how they began to prepare.
I reviewed Leaving the Trees last year on the Prepper Journal and Richard offered me the chance to review his latest book as well.
Leaving the Trees left you with a cliff hanger so I was eager to get to the continuation of his story. Good Crazy mostly deals with the life of Andy Shaw and his journey to Montana from a job he hated in a Government contracting agency. Richard writes with an easy to read style that doesn’t get too bogged down in the details. It isn’t really until the last third of the book that you get back to where Leaving the trees left off, but the purpose of the long back-story is for context and answers a few questions raised by the first book.
Richard seems to write with a view toward the larger picture and there are plenty of twists in his stories. I will tell you that some of the twists surprised me and I guess I can say that his art imitates what I believe life would be like in a collapse in a lot of ways. Don’t get too attached to anyone in these books because you never know what can happen.
Good Crazy tells an interesting story that moves at a fast pace and wraps everything up nicely at the end. While this story isn’t a how-to for surviving after collapse, it does paint a picture of how life could look and while it is expectedly bleak in places, it serves again to help me imagine situations and scenarios. I think that is the real value in prepper fiction like this.
Richard was kind enough to answer several questions and he delves more into his stories below. There are links to purchase his books on Amazon and if you are looking for a good end of the world as we know it read, you should check out Leaving the Trees and Good Crazy.
Give us an overview of your book, Good Crazy.
My novel Good Crazy is the sequel to my first book, Leaving The Trees. It is the continuation of the journey of some survivors living in Montana who are the victims of a cyber attack on the global financial markets by China. This attack ultimately causes everything to spin out of control. Banks freeze. ATMs and credit cards stop working. Eventually supply chains across the world stop sending food, gasoline and other goods to people. Chaos ensures. Society collapses.
In Good Crazy, we find two opposing camps of survivors fighting over who will ultimately control the local food supply and survive. A clever prepper has collected untainted, GMO free seeds and saved them for just such a catastrophe and now has them in the camp she leads. The struggle for food will be the center point of any global societal meltdown, thus in Good Crazy, this is played out between these two camps of survivors in southwest Montana to an ultimate confrontation and climatic ending.
From my career and life experiences, I feel I have a deep understanding of the cyber threat facing us, and what could result. I both written about this as well as appeared on various talk radio shows to talk about not only this possibility, but as well, many of the other serious issues facing our nation today, such as the growing and very sobering threat from ISIS – which is the face of evil.
If you want a milder glimpse of the cyber attack possibility I raised in both Leaving The Trees and Good Crazy, pay attention to what is happening with the ports in California with all the ships sitting in the harbors because of the Longshoreman’s strike. The supply chain in this country is beginning to freeze up because goods have stopped flowing into the US from the California ports. Commerce is visibly slowing. Local economies across the country that need these goods to conduct business are beginning to shut down.
The mathematician Edward Lorenz considered one of the primary theoreticians about a concept called Chaos Theory, demonstrated with his research that small changes, cascading over time in very large and very complex systems, could ultimately result in a much greater effect. He coined the term, “The Butterfly Effect.” The common example used to explain “The Butterfly Effect” is the mathematical ability to show how the effect of a butterfly flapping its wings in some remote part of the world could, over time, be the origin of a hurricane.
Even with small, seemingly innocuous beginnings, things can get much, much worse. Leaving The Trees and Good Crazy just uses this kind of thinking to lead to an ultimate possible result from a cyber event, when things could begin to cascade more widely and then go completely out of control.
How does Good Crazy pick up where Leaving The Trees left off?
At the end of Leaving The Trees, which is set in the mountains of Montana outside of Bozeman, one camp of survivors has managed to flee from another nearby camp they are in conflict with over the food supply. The fleeing camp takes all the remaining seeds necessary to grow more food. They leave in the middle of the night using paved roads to avoid leaving a trail that can be tracked. The remaining camp is surprised and has no idea where to look for them. They must find where they have gone, recapture the seeds and get them planted quickly to grow crops before the harsh Montana winter arrives. Or… they will slowly starve.
I begin Good Crazy with a flashback sequence describing how society actually collapses in the first place. Then, the story picks up where I left it at the end of Leaving The Trees leading to a final confrontation and resolution between the warring camps.
I must tell Prepper Journal readers that you should read Leaving The Trees before Good Crazy (I have recently dropped the price of Leaving The Trees for this purpose) to really follow the story line and get a better understanding of all the challenges you would face in such a survival situation.
You served on the White House staff for Ronald Reagan and George H. W Bush as a member of the National Security Council. Did events during that time lead you to conclusions you use in your writing today?
Most certainly my service at the White House has a deep impact on my thinking. Serving two Presidents of the United States was a seminal experience in my life, which has caused me view things, very differently, forever.
Most of us go through life knowing only what we read in the paper or hear on the news. I was a member of the crisis management team for two Presidents. This requires you to fully understand the threats facing this country and how we must meet them. This understanding is founded on the threat analyses and projections provided by our intelligence agencies. I had this position at the White House towards the end of my twenty-seven year military career. I then spent the next nineteen years doing similar work as a consultant for both the government and commercial businesses in private sector. After the tragic events of 911, I led much of the business continuity and disaster recovery planning for many organizations in this country.
After these experiences, you never see things the same way. After moving to Montana a few years ago, and starting to teach at Montana State University, I decided to do more writing about this topic. In the last twelve months I have published six articles plus my second novel, Good Crazy.
You wrote an article on the Prepper Journal before on the Search for Leadership and Character. How many of today’s problems in our society do you feel are directly responsible to poor leadership?
I think poor leadership is the root cause of most of our problems as a nation. As a college professor at Montana State University, one of the courses I have been asked to teach is leadership. I think there is a real hunger for principled leadership in this country.
In Good Crazy I have one of the characters pose a question about who are our heroes now. He is talking in this scene to the main character in Good Crazy, Andy Shaw.
“Andy, I was a college professor for many years. I studied and taught about the history of civilizations. What makes them rise up and what makes them fall.”
He paused and took another drink of beer, then continued.
“Things always cascade out of control when, among the political class, there is no courageous leadership, no accountability, and no ownership. It is rare to find this in Washington DC these days.
The founders of this country were men like George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. They risked everything they had to create the United States of America.
They came close to losing it all too. Could have all been hanged, their property taken by the crown. But…they had grit, determination and honor.
Then…after they defeated the British, they held this weak, fragile democracy together until it came alive and worked.
Men like Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, men who held things together while this country was beset by deep political and economic crises, followed them.
Who do we have now? Who has any ownership beyond the next poll, the next election? No one. Who are our heroes now? NFL quarterbacks? Actors? Name a political hero? A business one? An educator? A religious one? Hard to do isn’t it?
You can’t easily can you? At least, without really thinking about it. Our society, our value system has changed. With media, television, blogs, twitter, it is all image and spin anymore, form without substance.”
—From the novel, Good Crazy, by Richard Earl Broome, 2014, pages 86-87, All Rights Reserved.
When I ask my college students, this same question, they struggle with answering it too. This should worry us.
Good Crazy ends with a still dim view of a restoration of any type of society. What process do you think groups of people would need to go through in order to restore some of what we consider as “Normal” with rule of law and services?
Yes, I did end Good Crazy at the point where the conflict between the two warring camps is finally resolved (one camp wins in the end), but without hinting for the reader what would be next for the survivors. If we all reach the point the surviving camp does in Good Crazy, how do you finally restore civilization?
That is what my final novel in this trilogy, Stone Pony, is about. I am writing it now with a goal of publishing it by next summer. To prepare for writing it, I did an extensive study about how civilizations have evolved. Our present civilization seems to have revolved around a establishing a steady food supply, embracing religious and spiritual beliefs, wanting a fair rule of law for all citizens, and fostering an education system.
It you wiped the slate clean because of a sudden societal collapse right now, how would you reboot our society? What mistakes are we making right now that we need to avoid doing again?
I am having a great time writing Stone Pony.
Do you think that survival in a grid down world will come down to who can bring the most force against the opposition?
No question about it. I was in the United States Army for twenty-seven years of my life, going from an eighteen-year-old fuzzy cheeked buck private to a gray haired full Colonel. I do not believe in fair fights with an enemy. I want any fight I am in to be as completely in my favor as I can make it. If I am up against an enemy, I want to be meaner, tougher, smarter, and much better armed.
We need to remember this as we finally come to grips with the ISIS threat. We do not have the luxury of being tentative with our use of force against a threat like that. To do anything less, will cost more American lives than necessary.
Do you consider yourself a prepper? If so, what types of issues are you personally preparing for?
I absolutely am a prepper and very proud of it. There are fundamental principles to prepping, and many things to consider as you prepare. You can read about this in every edition of the excellent Prepper Journal, the “Why?” the “What?” and the “How?” of it.
But… I have my own set of additional ideas that I will term, the “You” of it.
Become a deeper thinker. In short, don’t just think of prepping in terms of things such as the best food preservation techniques to use or the best alternate power source equipment to buy, but rather how you would put all these preparations to together (in your mind) against the many possible threat scenarios you could face. Consider their strengths and weaknesses. When could any preparation fail you and under what circumstances? If you want to try this, think through how long you could isolate yourself from society today if another Ebola like threat emerged? At what point would things fall apart for you?
Become a more skeptical thinker. Just because the T.V., the newspaper, the Internet or the radio says it is so, does not make it so. Consider the agendas of the people behind these sources of information. What was the old adage we learned as children? “Stop, Look and Listen!” Stop just accepting everything you watch, read or listen to without investigating them more. Put everything through your own internal BS detector before accepting them. If in doubt about what I am saying, consider the purposeful, deliberate disinformation about government programs that have occurred in the past year. “If you like your healthcare, you can keep your healthcare.” Yeah right.
Become a more analytical thinker. Meaning, do what I recommend in my speaking and writing engagements “look around the next corner while still walking down the street.” Watch, read and listen more widely. Look for the dots to connect, before anyone else even notices there are dots there. Spot the potential for trouble before others do. Use common sense. If a drought is predicted, put aside water. If they are calling for a hard winter, put up firewood while it is still cheap to buy. If food shortages are just starting to be predicted in the press, make sure your stores of food are complete and you can grow more.
— From the article, “Are We Headed Toward a Cyber War,” 2014, Richard Earl Broome, All Rights Reserved.
In short, learn to be less of a linear thinker, but much more of a comprehensive and critical thinker. Analyze everything happening around you. Learn to be able to identify all the moving parts in a given situation, and how you could more completely and effectively respond.
Your books discuss the potential of an economic collapse but are there any other likely scenarios you feel could lead to a global collapse?
Yes. Operating environments for people and organizations have become so increasingly complex, so multi-dimensional that it makes them much harder to defend. Disruptions or attacks can come from several directions now. As we use our iPhones, laptops, etc., to manage our daily lives, there is an incredibly complex infrastructure behind the casual use of these capabilities. Do we know where the possible single points of failure are and, if successfully attacked, could bring down everything to a full stop? How long can we survive a rupture of these capabilities, during the time a solution is being developed and implemented, before we reach a crisis point?
Recently I was on a radio show in Los Angeles and we had a discussion about the emerging possibility of driver-less automobiles. There are many potential benefits if this technology comes into common use, such things as increased safety and convenience. Wouldn’t it be nice to send your car to the repair shop for a lube and oil without you having to drive it? Then, when ready, it comes back on its own and parks in your parking space?
Yet, have we even considered the new risk dimension driver-less cars could introduce? What happens if twenty driver-less cars show up in Washington DC around the Congress and the White House, or at other places across the nation, loaded with bombs and start to explode? Chaos will result.
We do not understand the new global risk environment as well as we should, nor do we think deeply enough about it to plan as completely and effectively as needed. I speak and write frequently about what I call the growing “assurance gap.” Our planning about how to defend ourselves is beginning to fall short of the increasing complex, multiple threats that are emerging.
Are there authors you read for collapse fiction like this?
There are many current good books to read, but I would also suggest some very thoughtful, older books to enable readers to develop and exercise the critical thinking skills I recommend. Two books written by James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg: The Great Reckoning and The Sovereign Individual will have you look at the world differently.
Written in the 1990s, both were very insightful and prescient about the emergence of the very threats we are experiencing today, right down to the rise of Islamic terrorism. The authors used what they call mega-political analysis to step back and examine, at a strategic view, what actually is going on in the world and how best to protect yourself. Both books made me think harder and deeper than I ever did before.
Finally, my next book Stone Pony will as I have said, be devoted to what it will take after a collapse to restore civilization and how we could re-establish a better society.
Stay tuned. It is coming next summer.