Honestly, I’m not trying to make book reviews a regular thing that I do. However, given the decline of quality movie and TV show production in 2020 combined with the growing number of actors handing out unsolicited advice about things they know nothing about and therefore ruining the watch again experience for me, I’ve been consuming more books than usual. A trend I expect to continue growing given the continued ammo shortage limiting shooting activity and range time. At any rate, here I am writing another book review.
A lot of readers I’ve been shooting the bull with on social media have mentioned a thing or two about a relatively recent book authored by Clay Martin: Concrete Jungle: A Green Beret’s guide to Urban Survival. Generally, this book gets mentioned as a great resource during discussions surrounding the growing civil unrest and rioting that the United States has seen during 2020. After reading it, I have to agree it’s a great resource.
Frankly, I developed a love hate relationship with this book as I read it. Don’t get me wrong, the information in it is excellent. Frankly, I’m not going to criticize any of it because the information is presented by a man with vast qualifications and significant expertise in the domain of urban combat. Any attempt I make at critiquing the content would be akin to a high school student, who hasn’t completed their first introductory physics course, attempting to comment on Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. In other words, I would be making an ass out of myself.
So why is it a love and hate thing instead of just a love thing? Well, put simply, it’s also an ego crusher and reveals a hard truth that I’ve learned more than once in other areas of study and interest. I doubt I’m alone when I say that reading this made me realize I am far less competent than I was confident when it comes to urban survival. That’s right, I was at the peak of mount stupid and now I’m in the valley of despair realizing I must start the ascent up the slope of enlightenment. That’s a reference to the Dunning-Kruger effect which I’ve mentioned in a past post. This is actually a good thing, it’s just a hard and bitter pill to swallow.
In terms of content, the book presents valuable information and provides a ton of guidance starting with building a team, basic preparations, elementary readiness mindset, pistol skills, hand to hand fighting skills, physical fitness, weapon selection, hardening defenses, and even bugging out. The guidance is concise and specific. If followed and put into practice, the reader can develop the right skills and tactics to increase one’s chance of surviving full blow civil unrest without wasting precious resources on fluff and snake oil that will be of limited or no use in an urban survival scenario.
While the meat and potatoes of the content is practical advice, the book is anything but a dry read. It reminds me of having an honest conversation with one of my Veteran buddies who is willing to share details about his service and deployment experience, at least with as much detail as he is willing to share with a civilian like me. It’s real friend to friend talk with no nonsense regarding the brooding storm that seems to be coming our direction. While the topics are serious in nature, the conversation is decorated with a few friendly jabs and abbreviated side stories complete with a smattering of dark humor and crass language. This writing style makes the book an easy read and made it hard for me to put down.
The hardest truth in this book is that only helps one know what they don’t know so they can do something about it. That truth disrupts the bliss of ignorance and leaves on ready to do something about it. What makes that truth hard is that one is only equipped with better knowledge and potentially a very long list of work to do which can result in feeling a bit of despair.
As an armed civilian who is actively working on improving self defense skills and as a person who is always looking to be better prepared, I found this book to be very useful. I highly recommend it to anyone who is like minded or anyone who thinks civil unrest will continue to increase and present a survival threat. Check out Clay Martin’s blog to learn more about him and work. Also, check out his newest book, Prairie Fire: Guidebook for Surviving Civil War 2, rumors indicate it’s similar to Concrete Jungle but it takes things to the next spicier level.