Tuesday, July 08, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: "Practical Self-Reliance" by John McCann

“Practical Self-Reliance: Reducing Your Dependency on Others,” a new book by John McCann.

It’s good to know that in today’s world with war and rumors of war, accelerating environmental degradation, the ruin of the dollar, and inept and corrupt leaders “running the world,” more and more people are at least waking up to the fact that “we the people” means you and I.  The move towards practical self-reliance is not just a fad, but it’s a reaction to very real problems and issues in the world that threaten our well-being and the safety of our families and neighborhoods.  At the most basic level, we are realizing that the most functional definition of “the government” is also you and I, and we had better realize that quickly.

Part of this rational mindset is the attempt by many to self-govern: to do as much as they can to provide some of their own food, their own power, and many of the supplies they need.  No, this is not referring to “farming,” but rather a complete mindset which any urban dweller can and should adopt of being responsible for your own domain.

John McCann’s latest book provides a useful no-nonsense guide to becoming more self-reliant, from a man who has also taught wilderness survival.

Naturally, McCann points out the necessity of ascertaining need from want, a great starting point.

He addresses all the ways to get food. Yes, grow as much as you can, and grow plants appropriate to your locale. But what if you live in an apartment?  Try joining a neighborhood garden. And try supporting local farmers markets. Learn about wild foods.
McCann also provides us with a variety of ways to store food and water in case of an emergency, and multiple ways to prepare your meals in the back yard. Ever heard of a solar oven?  These are very practical for most of the U.S., and some can be made for very little outlay of cash.

Lots of things can be recycled (“repurposed” is the current hip way to refer to this) into practical and useful items, once we get over our foolish pride that everything must be new from Target.  My father and grandfather would enjoy McCann’s section of the tools needed to make and fix everything around your home and homestead.

I liked the section explaining how to make a simple slush lamp (basically, an oil lamp) from an old wine bottle which has a wick stuck into it.

Everything you need to know about water purification, water storage, alternate toilets, compost toilets, is detailed in this heavily-illustrated book.

There’s a good section on alternate sources of electricity, not how to get off the grid, but how to start using solar electricity little by little within a budget.

Perhaps the section that we should all read carefully is Chapter 9, “Don’t Bank on Banks.”  No, it’s not a rant against the establishment, just some common-sense reality about what to do when the banking system fails.  Even a short-term electrical blackout renders all  your ATMs and electronic money moot.  Remember that cash is king, and learn to barter with useful items and skills.

This book made me smile often, since it was reminiscent of my 2002 book, “Extreme Simplicity: Homesteading in the City,” where my wife Dolores and I described our efforts to live in a normal suburban yard and live as self-sufficiently as possible.  John McCann’s book, and my book, make a wonderful complementary package.
Practical Self-Reliance is available from  Kindle at Amazon.com at $9.95.  The print edition can be purchased directly from John McCann at www.survivalresources.com or from Amazon.com.

No comments: