Should I read One Second After?

Dec 20, 2004
I've heard bits and pieces about this book, in which the USA and several other countries are victims of an EMP attack. Although fiction, I gather that it is a clarion call for the awareness of the risks of EMP.

So, is it worth reading?
Yes, it reminded me a lot of 'Alas Babylon" in ways.

Very gritty look at what would happen if all our electric toys went away for most of the book.

Towards the end it got a little off that message, but still a very good read IMO.
Oh boy.... I just had a HUGE discussion about this with a few friends. I don't know man... can you handle horror stories?
Well I (barely) survived reading The Road. If I read One Second After, I predict that I'll be out in the garage building Faraday cages and filling them with radios, batteries and vehicle ignition parts . . .
It's a depressing read like "The Road" a really was uncomfortable at times with it's stark message of just what will happen, especially to older and chronically ill people when the medical technology and the power infrastructure that support it is taken away.
Well I'll throw out my whole conversation for you to comment on...... start the ball rolling... hopefully not toward W&C.

I know a few people who read it... they immediately started spreading all the horror story scenarios from it. It began to change their perspectives for the worse.... but it didn't have to be like that... they could have benefited from it. There are few who are willing to, I'm afraid. Much of the book has to do with the violence and crime afterwards.... so I'm told. I refuse to read it.

I asked them....

Has reading the book made you feel a bit more prepared? Has it made an impact to better your life? Do you see the light at the end of the tunnel? Are you going to change the way you live?

Or has it made things worse? Has it made you stock up on guns and ammo? Has it made you afraid of what the other guy is going to do? How many people have you told some of the horrible things you've read to? How do you think they felt?

For those who have read it... I have only seen reactions of fear, hopelessness and the urge to increase their ammo supply... please give me some good reviews here... Is the book totally depressing or what?

Again... I have not read it but I think you would be much better off to acknowledge that an EMP is a possibility... and FOCUS on changing your life so it has less impact on you. A couple hundred years ago, a detonated EMP would have little to no effect on us. Do you think you could learn those not so ancient skills? The "bad" people can always take away your stuff... there is always someone with a bigger gun. You need to make yourself more valuable ALIVE than dead. You need to have the skills to make something from nothing and folks around you need to know that. If you can make biodiesel, water treatment systems and know a thing or two about homesteading.... how important will you be to the community? I suggest you pick up resources for these kinds of skills.

It is not my intent to condemn firearms. It is important to have a means of protecting yourself... but not to the point of neglecting other needs. Would you say there is a 50% chance that you'll be attacked by "bad" people?....... 25%.... 10%? I don't really know... I suppose it depends on your location, too. But there is a 100% chance you'll be without electricity, city water and eventually gas, should the EMP scenario happen. If all you have is a limited supply of rations and some guns to keep it safe..... Something will eventually give.

Plus... if all you and your family have are those supplies you will probably feel the need to defend them to the death. If you are confident enough in your skills to replenish the basic needs, you have the option of fleeing. This could save your life and your family's. If enough armed folks want your stuff, they will get it. If it is a state of martial law (that’s like 6-7 "ifs", now... lol)... your arsenal will do you no good. Outlawed guns and ammo will make you a criminal or a target. I don't think you'll be outgunning the military. They may decide to confiscate all food and medicine stashes... to be combined and rationed to the people... who knows?

They can't take what's in your head... and it takes time and practice to make these skills second nature. Just having a library of how-to's will be useless if you have to relocate in a hurry... books weigh you down.

To me... it always seems like people focus on home defence when it comes to a national crisis. I compare it to folks focusing on food in a survival situation.

Don't get me wrong. Life as we know it will change, forever. Food will be consumed, healthcare will dwindle and most will die. While one person/family can be self sufficient (There are plenty of examples of that)it will not be to today's standards. As in the past, we will be more susceptible to sickness, violence and nature in all her glory. You need to get to a functioning community by all means... but have more than "supplies" to offer when you get there. A functioning community needs FUNCTIONING MEMBERS.... the more value you add the more likely you'll be accepted.

Enter necessary means of defence (I know Koyote is all over this, hopefully in agreement). Now that you have this knowledge, you need to either be in or get to a functioning community. That's how you are going to survive... not by barricading yourself in and fighting off intruders. While traveling, you do have to think about protection... reasonable but effective protection. The more "under the radar" the better. You can't just set out with an XMB Carbine and bandoliers of spare mags. You need to blend... be neither threat, nor target.

That is thoughtful stuff, and I would have to agree. I fear I would be of rather limited value in a scenario like that, so I am hoping it might give me some extra ideas and motivation for acquiring some useful skills.
Rick hit the nail on the head. I'm not reading that either for much of the same reasons. Great post by the way.

For the average person as well as those who are more prepared, the book is worth a read for the thought it provokes. I actually didn't find it very entertaining, but reaffirmed a lot of what I expected. It was researched/written to be as accurate as possible should that scenario happen.

Another book with a similiar scenario that is entertaining as well as delves deeper into the social interaction of dealing with the aftermath of a disaster is Lights Out which can found here for free... Out.htm

All these types of books have the possibility of making you scared for the future, thus not letting you live in the now. That being said, I strongly recommend reading Cody Lundin's When All Hell Breaks Loose after or while you are reading one of these other books as unlike the other disaster survival books out there that are just technical manuals, Cody's book is both technical and philosophical which is truly empowering.
I'm kinda trying to figure out what is going to happen next where I live.

We all know it is going to happen.

We know it is going to happen fairly soon. Anyone with a brain knows a tax rate approaching 50%, a decrease in medical care and restrictive laws is going to result in something. Carbon footprint taxation, anti gun laws, yada, yada, you have heard it all before. Without going into the Political side and me not being a "survivalist" and not stockpiling ammo and such, I have to figure out ahead of time just what is a realistic scenario and what my plan is.

An EMP strike would not effect me directly at all. The consequences of the aftermath would. BUT it is an unlikely scenario.

More than likely there will be a 3 year or so degredation of society into a communist state that will leave us without jobs, riots in the cities, a VERY scared Govt and people in the mountains that wake up and do what they always done. Survive.

I am more concerned with the reality of what I think is about to occur within the next 10 years.

That book does not depict a likely scenario to me.
The book put into specific detail that which we've all wondered about. It's dark and gritty and often depressing. I see these as good qualities, as it's not often a book makes me feel such genuine emotion. I found it a great read. Incidentally, the author writes good fantasy/sci-fi as well. Check out The Lost Regiment series.
If you like disaster porn, go for it. Keep in mind, it's an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it science fiction book. No need to take the stuff very seriously.
FWIW- Warner Bros. has bought the rights to "One Second After" and the movie version is in the works.

I say definitely read it, great book.
An EMP strike would not effect me directly at all. The consequences of the aftermath would. BUT it is an unlikely scenario.

It wouldn't? You couldn't hop in the car, you couldn't get gas even if you had a vehicle that still worked, many stores won't function because of prices tied to barcodes, you can't get money out of the bank, etc. We've become so dependent on electronics that IMO it's going to bite us very hard right on the you know what one day.

As far as being unlikely.....maybe, maybe not. EMP doesn't have to come from a weapon, it can come from the sun as well and a huge solar storm would have a similar effect. One occurred in 1859 that reportedly shorted out telegraph lines and started numerous fires.
Well, sure. But who seriously gives much thought to post nuclear attack scenarios, which is what what an EMP attack would most likely be the result of? There have to be thousands of books and movies fictionalizing such an event. One Second After is just another in a long line.

Think of it this way. There are lots of very real calamities that can befall North America, and/or the globe. If and when the Yellowstone caldera decides to give a good belch, most of our vacation plans will have to be put on hold. A random meteor strike could easily put us all down for the count, very quickly, or very slowly depending on it's size. And just plain old climate change can result in Mother Nature culling the herd of humanity. The ways of humanity inflicting such harm on itself are typically puny in comparison, even though we have the know how. Anyone who seriously thinks they are well prepared to cope with such a grandiose disaster is probably blissfully self deluded.

As survivalists, we love to ponder such stuff. That's why I refer to it as "disaster porn". However, history tends to show us that the seeds of our demise will probably be via comparatively anemic means, rather than the large scale drama used to sell sensational books and movies.