As I write this review, much of our nation—especially in the big cities—is in chaos, as various communist insurgent groups work to cause mayhem, destroy history, loot and destroy property, and continually attack and intimidate American citizens with whom they merely disagree. These groups are aided hand-in-glove by nearly 100% of the staff at media outlets and large corporations, who either suppress facts and run interference for the insurgents’ crimes or they make widely publicized genuflections toward the groups’ inane and disgusting demands. All the while, big-city governments are either cowed or offering full-throated support for this violent, anti-American evil.
As a result, cities are on fire and American culture is crumbling. The pace and spread of this evil is alarming. It seems all of media, business, and much of government is arrayed against ordinary, decent American citizens who simply want to be left alone to live their lives free from tyranny, violence, and mayhem. The forces arrayed against us continually promise that we may not do so.
What if things deteriorate further, as they’re sure to do? How do decent Americans prepare to preserve normalcy or to just survive when the rule of law fully collapses? What works well and what doesn’t? What is practical and what is fantasy? Few of us have professional experience in such matters and the clock is ticking.
Amid this increasingly grim saga comes Clay Martin who out of a self-professed sense of moral duty offers the plainspoken, practical advice good folks need, as many find they must prepare against a violent tide. His book, “Concrete Jungle” is, as described on the back cover, “a down and dirty guide [on how] to survive the most extreme environment imaginable.” The book offers hard-won insights on practical matters like, how to plan and budget for your preparations; how to build an information network; how to build an effective team; what training to pursue, and which kinds; food and fitness preparations; stores and equipment; which actions work well and which don’t…and much more.
The author, Clay Martin, served in both the US Marine Corps and the US Army. He was, among other things, a scout/sniper and a Green Beret. He explains in the book’s introduction…
“As a retired Green Beret, I feel a moral obligation to help those that want to help themselves, which is what this book is about. Like a return on your investment for your tax dollars. I don’t have all the answers, but I can at least say my opinion is tempered by real world experience both spotting unrest, and surviving to tell the tale.”
Given his experience and success, it is perhaps best that we pay attention when he speaks to these topics. I enjoyed the book and learned a great deal. Here, I have some observations to share on the author’s effort—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and hope that you might find them useful.
While some may imagine that a review of a book will deal exclusively with the content, I’m reviewing the entire effort here involved with the paperback version of the book: The content and its organization, the language, the design, the “furniture” (cover and ancillary bookish-info-things at the starting and ending pages of the book), and the defined architecture of the book. I’m doing these things because reading a book is a physical experience—a user experience that involves tactile, visual, and navigational input. Since these things are component to my profession, I know how important the whole of the experience can be to reading a book. So here we go.
First, the specs:
“Concrete Jungle – A Green Beret’s Guide to Urban Survival”
By Clay Martin
Published June 15, 2020
Available on Amazon.com (and perhaps elsewhere)
- Chapter 1: Not the Guns
- Chapter 2: Common Sense Planning (I think this is chapter 2)
- Chapter 3: Building Your ODA From Scratch
- Chapter 4: With Our Own Powers Combined
- Chapter 5: Greenhorn to Wyatt Earp
- Chapter 6: Nunchucks and Throwing Stars
- Chapter 7: Stabby Things
- Chapter 8: Fitness, Food, and Water
- Chapter 9: Rumble in the Bronx
- Chapter 10: Savages on the Warpath
- Chapter 11: Balkanize Before They Rise
- Chapter 12: Weapons
- Chapter 13: Care and Feeding of Your Gat
- Chapter 14: Becoming a Harder Target
- Chapter 15: Blow the Escape Hatch
Heh, some of the chapter names are kind of whimsical. Guess the author was having a good time when he wrote them. If a chapter name doesn’t make sense to you, I can say with reasonable certainty that the content that follows it will. The author has a knack for explaining things in simple, practical terms with plain language.
Since I’m no expert on most of the topics, I can only say that what the author shares here makes a lot of sense to me, and the occasional caveat rings true. Some of the nice surprises included things most of us never think about or would ever have experience with, given that we grew up in a highly civilized, prosperous nation. Things like, what happens to a person when they’re very hungry from not having eaten in a few days, or admonishments on how to eat in the hellscape and how not to get caught doing it.
These insights speak to some the really horrible aspects of conflict, when things we take for granted are suddenly gone, cut off, run out, or turn septic. They’re things we don’t think about because they’re too horrible to imagine. The author takes pains to address these unimaginable horrors and offers strategies or tactics for dealing with them in proven and advisable ways.
I found the more I read, the more I was glad that I was reading this book and being exposed to these issues and the accompanying advice. As is the purpose, it made me understand just how much there is to do in order to better and more responsibly prepare. I also appreciated the advice against doing some things in favor of other things. Better choices mean a better, more comfortable survival. The author seems to have a lot of valuable insights into these matters.
Reading this book is a piece of cake. The prose is simple, inviting, and endearing. The author’s delivery makes it seem like the two of you are hanging out on your back porch enjoying cigars and cold beer while he offers some advice. This quality is a huge win for the book, and for every reader.
Another good choice by the author, I think, was to directly translate many military conventions into systems and choices for your preparations, especially regarding how you build and maintain your team and your community network of information. It is best that laymen rely on proven systems utilized by professionals rather than merely inventing them out of thin air, and I think the author does excellent work solving vital issues for you. He lays out some clear, proven templates that you can use to survive and live more successfully than others may.
In support of his suggestions, the author relates some personal anecdotes and illustrative fictional stories to show the practicality of what might seem like bs or fanciful ideas to some readers. In doing so he does a good job bridging the gap between military lingo/SOP and regular-folks’ needs. Like the subtitle of the book describes, the book really does read like a Green Beret’s guide to urban survival, and I believe you couldn’t ask for a better instructor in these matters.
Not every reader will already be a firearms expert or seasoned prepper and the author easily takes this fact into account with the scope and quality of his advice. That said, those of you who are expert in such things won’t be left bored or nonplussed. There’s seemingly something for everyone here.
Along with the hard-earned insights and surely solid advice comes some incongruent content, I believe. Given the topic and context of the book, I think the author spent far too much of the book dwelling on the spectrum and comparative qualities of various empty-hand defensive systems. From my own decades of experience in a handful of them I see that his observations ring true, but for a book about strategies, tactics, and preparations for the NOW, it seems out of place to devote so much of the content to efforts that genuinely take years, often a decade or more of continual practice, to be automatically useful in a violent situation. Moreover, the financial cost of that continual training in a quality academy tends to dwarf the costs of other, more immediately useful preparations. I believe the author even touched on that fact.
Don’t misunderstand; pursuing this training is something every man should do, but it’s something you should have started decades ago and not as a last-minute prep for impending social unrest. Again, it’s good advice and worthy of inclusion, but the large percentage of pages dedicated to it is just perhaps misplaced in this particular book.
This last complaint is perhaps just my opinion, but the ending of the book seems oddly abrupt. There is no summation or “conclusions” section…nothing to neatly tie the preceding content up into a bow at the end. I think the author could have really used something like that to drive home some key points and perhaps direct readers to other resources. I just know I felt like the ending was a bit wrong. Maybe it’s just me.
“Concrete Jungle” was independently published and I’m disappointed to say that pretty much everything about the book’s format, design, and state of text makes that fact achingly clear. I purchased the paperback version of the book and while it’s likely a bit harsh to say, this book seems more like a voluminous pamphlet. I get that we’re moving quickly into a world where printed matter is more and more an afterthought, but if one is going to publish a printed book there are a few important conventions one should follow as a matter of course and out of respect for the customer. This book lacks most of them.
There is no index, no glossary; nothing but the text. In fact, there is nothing inside the front cover other than …the book. The Introduction starts on the very first page. It’s an efficient start, but the traditional first info-pages conventions are conventions for a reason. Sometimes folk like to browse by chapters and get a sense of where things are. Of course, to do that, you’d need page numbers. This book doesn’t have those either(!).
There are chapters, but they are only vaguely hinted at; there’s no contrasting text to give your eye purchase on the fact that a new chapter has started. In fact, chapter 2 isn’t even vaguely hinted at; it is apparently nonexistent. You’re reading chapter one, then later there’s an unlabeled page heading that seems to be chapter-like, but a few pages later you’re in chapter three. Likely just an editing error. Also concerned with editing, there are several misspellings and space/punctuation errors throughout the book that should have been caught before publication. Again, expediency has its place, but not at the cost of the fundamentals.
Now, I’ll admit to the possibility that the omission of page numbers, an index, contrasting chapter notations, etc. were all thematic components of a broader point the author was making. But if that’s so, I’ve got no clue what that point could be. I just think it’s more likely that these were omissions of expediency—to get the book out and into the hands of patriots while we still have a country to defend; an effort for which I am sincerely grateful!
Finally, from a design standpoint (as a design professional, I can be a total snob with this stuff), the cover is just heinous! Red text on gray is a horrible choice and an assault on the eyes. The text composition on the back cover looks like random words were thrown haphazardly onto the canvas; hurts to try and read. Haha, so much is wrong with the design here, but like I said, I’m a design snob. That said, it really is the content inside that really counts. My overarching point is that there are a lot of things that count.
This is a much-needed book and I’m glad that we got it delivered in the voice and style that Clay Martin offers up. This book doesn’t exclude anyone in voice or delivery, and I think that was a solid choice here. I also like that it’s not a huge tome, but a relatively quick read. Time is short and offering a stripped-down and practical take on strategies and advice based on first-hand experience is a great choice for those “who want to help themselves.” Those of us who have read Clay’s book and want to know more can now seek that further information from a far more informed stance.
Along with what’s good here, there are obvious less-than-awesome components that I thought need to be recognized. Part of the reason for publishing a review…of anything…is to take advantage of opportunities to point out how subsequent efforts might be revised for better effect. Since I care deeply for both the medium and the topic, that is most certainly one of my aims here. As such, my review may come off as more negative than is deserved so please don’t get the idea that I didn’t like this book or that I don’t recommend this book. On the contrary, I strongly recommend that all responsible Americans purchase and read this book. It deserves your attention and I dare say you may be in more dire straits than is necessary without it.
I want to sincerely thank Clay Martin for writing and sharing this book, blemishes and all. The things that are occurring in our nation seemingly have only one eventuality and I’m already using the advice the author offers here to improve my preparations and my family’s situation in the face of a potentially grim future.
As someone who cares a great deal for our American culture and our nation, I hope that you read this book and act on the author’s advice.
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