James Wesley Rawles

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James Wesley Rawles
Born 1960
Livermore, California, United States
Education Bachelor of Arts, San Jose State University
Occupation Novelist, nonfiction author, and blogger
Political movement
American Redoubt (originator)

James Wesley, Rawles[1] (born 1960) is an American author, best known for his survivalist genre Patriots novel series, which have become New York Times best sellers. Rawles is a former U.S. Army Intelligence officer and a blogger and survival retreat consultant.[1][2][3] A conservative Christian,[4] Rawles is the editor of SurvivalBlog.com, a blog on survival and preparedness topics.[3] Rawles is the author of the survivalist novels Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse,[5] Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse, Founders: A Novel of the Coming Collapse, Expatriates: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse, and Liberators: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse as well as the international bestseller nonfiction book [6] How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times.

Early life and military career[edit]

Rawles was born in Livermore, California in 1960 and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from San Jose State University. He served as a United States Army Military Intelligence officer from 1984 to 1993[7] and resigned his commission as a U.S. Army Captain immediately after Bill Clinton became President of the United States.[7] Rawles worked as an Associate Editor and Regional Editor (for the Western U.S.) with Defense Electronics magazine in the late 1980s and early 1990s[8] and concurrently was Managing Editor of The International Countermeasures Handbook.[9] He worked as a technical writer through most of the 1990s with a variety of electronics and software companies[7] including Oracle Corporation.[10] In 2005, he began blogging full-time.[3] On his book covers and in his blog, he presents his name with a comma, as James Wesley, Rawles, to distinguish between his given name and his family name;[11]

He is now a freelance writer, blogger, and survival retreat consultant.[12][13] He has been called a "survival guru"[4] and the "conscience of survivalism."[14] Rawles is best known as the author of the survivalist novel Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse.[15]

Blog presence and consulting[edit]

Rawles is the editor of SurvivalBlog.com, a popular blog on survival and preparedness topics.[16] The blog has been described as "the guiding light of the prepper movement."[17] The main focus of his blog is preparing for the multitude of possible threats toward society.[18] In his various writings, Rawles has warned about socio-economic collapse,[19][20] terrorist attacks,[21] and food shortages. As a consultant, Rawles advises his clients primarily via telephone on emergency preparedness,[3] at the rate of $100 per hour."[22]


Rawles has five popular books in print that are sold by mainstream booksellers: four novels and one nonfiction survival manual. He has already written another novel titled Liberators and another nonfiction book, titled Tools for Survival, that is expected to be released in December, 2014 by Penguin Books.[23]

Cover of Patriots.

Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse[edit]

His first book was a work of speculative fiction set in a near future period of hyperinflation and socioeconomic collapse initially titled: Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse, and later re-titled: Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse. The book was originally released in draft form as shareware[24] under the title "Triple Ought" in the early 1990s but was later printed by the Christian partner publisher Huntington House. After Huntington House went out of business, the book was re-released by Xlibris, a "print on demand" publisher. Starting in April, 2009, the novel went back into wide circulation, in a 400-page trade paperback edition, published by Ulysses Press, Berkeley, California. This new edition was updated and expanded to include a glossary[25] and index.[26]

In early April 2009, shortly after its release, it was ranked number 6 in Amazon.com's overall book sales rankings, but fell to number 33 a week later.[5] By the end of the month it had fallen to number 98.[27] The book's initial popularity caught librarians unprepared because it was considered a niche title and had not been reviewed by the major book review publications. According to Library Journal, the topic struck a chord with "a small but vociferous group of people concerned with survivalism" who share a sense of societal anxiety associated with the economic recession. The journal went on to say that Patriots was "reportedly originally conceived as a nonfiction guide. According to a number of Amazon.com reviewers, the novel will not win any literary prizes; its strength lies in its practical reassurances, focus on guns, and Christian ideology." Librarians then scrambled to purchase copies of the book to meet the unanticipated demand.[5]

Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse[edit]

Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse is a contemporaneous sequel novel that parallels the events that occur in Patriots, following a hyperinflationary socioeconomic collapse and the subsequent events known as "The Crunch". The novel follows several new characters (and some characters from Patriots) as they attempt to survive in the United States following The Crunch as they deal with criminal gangs, a provisional American government, and the general breakdown of society. The book was released on 4 October 2011. It rose to #2 in Amazon's overall book sales ranks, the same day. On 23 October 2011, it was listed at #3 in the New York Times Best Sellers list in the fiction hardback category.[2] Less than a month after publication, the novel had gone through four printings and had 52,500 copies in print.[28]

Founders: A Novel of the Coming Collapse[edit]

Founders: A Novel of the Coming Collapse is a contemporaneous sequel novel that parallels the events that occur in Patriots and Survivors. It was released on September 25, 2012. The book peaked at #4 in Amazon's overall book sales ranks, on its release day. The book premiered on the New York Times Best Sellers list at #11, but dropped to #27 a week later.[29]

Expatriates: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse[edit]

Expatriates: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse is a contemporaneous sequel novel that parallels the events that occur in Patriots, Survivors, and Founders. This 301-page novel was released on October 1, 2013.[23] The book debuted at #21 in hardback fiction category on the New York Times Bestsellers List.[30]

How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times[edit]

Cover of How To Survive The End Of The World As We Know It

Rawles authored the international bestseller[6] How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times, a non-fiction book drawn primarily from posts from SurvivalBlog.com, his popular blog on preparedness topics. The book was called "The preppers' Bible", by a Reuters journalist.[17] The main focus of his blog is preparing for the multitude of possible threats toward society. In his various writings, Rawles advises preparedness in the event of catastrophe, including preparedness against the risks of a post-disaster society which include looting, armed violence and food shortages. He also recommends preparedness measures including the establishment of rural safe havens at least 300 miles from the nearest major city, financial planning for a future barter based economy, water retrieval and purification, food production and storage, security and self-defense techniques and strategies.[31][32]

The book received a mixed review from the New York Journal of Books that summarized: "For a neutral assessment of the huge efforts put in by the author, the book has its own strengths and weaknesses; however, the former outweigh the latter by a huge margin. One of its crystal clear strengths is the author’s obsession with precision and a clinical eye for relevant details."[33] It received a favorable book review on the weblog of Orville R. Weyrich Jr.[34] There was also a summary of the book published in the March–April 2010 issue of The Futurist magazine, under the headline: "Alarmingly Practical Advice For Doomsday."[31] The book is briefly quoted and the title is mentioned in the article "Are You Ready for the End of the World?" in the January 2010 issue of The Philadelphia Trumpet, a publication of the Philadelphia Church of God.[32]

In an interview with Rawles about the book, syndicated radio talk show host G. Gordon Liddy said that the book "posits a collapse of civilization."[35] When interviewed by syndicated radio talk show host Laura Ingraham about the book on 5 October 2009, she said that the book "goes through point-by-point the basics of being prepared and heightening your chances of surviving some type of major crisis." Echoing Rawles's writings, Ingraham warned that "there is a thin line between order and total anarchy in time of a crisis, when peoples' lives are on the line—and all the niceties and the rules go out the door."[36][37]

How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It has 14 chapters and three appendices, 336 pages, ISBN 978-0-452-29583-4. September 2009. First Printing (September 2009): 20,000 copies. Second Printing (October 2009): 6,000 copies. Third Printing (October 2009): 25,000 copies. An unabridged audiobook edition is also available (ISBN 978-1441830593), produced by Brilliance Audiobooks. It was narrated by Dick Hill. As of March 2011, there were 132,000 copies of the book in print, and it had gone through 11 printings.[38] As of April, 2012, there were 12 foreign publishing contracts in place to produce editions in 11 languages,[39] and the book was still in Amazon.com's Top 250 titles, overall.[40] The German edition, Überleben in der Krise was translated by Angelika Unterreiner. It was released in June, 2011.[41][42] The French edition, Fin du Monde: Comment survivre? was translated by Antony Angrand. It was released in September, 2012.[43][44] The Spanish edition: Cómo Sobrevivir al Fin del Mundo tal Como lo Conocemos was translated by Juan Carlos Ruiz Franco in Spain and Javier Medrano in the United States. It was released in April, 2012.[45][46] A Romanian translation (Ghid De Supravietuir) from Editura Paralela 45 in Bucharest was released in November, 2013. It was translated by Ioan Es. Pop, a well-known Romanian poet, translator, and academic.[37][47]

Tools For Survival[edit]

Rawles recently authored Tools For Survival: What You Need to Survive When You’re on Your Own, another non-fiction book drawn primarily from his SurvivalBlog.com posts. The publisher describes the book as "a guide to the selection, use, and care of tools." It is scheduled for release in December, 2014, by Penguin Books. The book's ISBN is 978-0-452-29812-5.[48][49]


Starting in the early 1990s, Rawles also authored or co-authored 17 Internet frequently asked questions (FAQ) reference pages, primarily on firearms topics, such as one on antique guns that is often cited.[50]

Philosophical, political and economic views[edit]

Rawles is an outspoken proponent of family preparedness, especially regarding food storage[51] and advocates relocating to lightly populated rural "retreat" areas. His preparedness philosophy emphasizes the fragility of modern society, the value of silver and other tangibles for barter, recognition of moral absolutes, being well-armed, maintaining a "deep larder," relocation to rural retreats, and Christian charity.[52] In an interview in The New York Times, Rawles referred to himself as a "guns and groceries" survivalist.[53]

Rawles is a strong proponent of the right to keep and bear arms, having said that people are "merely exercising a pre-existing right" when they carry firearms to public events such as political rallies. When he was asked about open carry, "but...without a permit?", he replied, "We have a permit—it is called the Second Amendment,"[54]

Rawles is outspokenly opposed to racism.[55][56] He is also an outspoken modern slavery abolitionist.[57]

The Survivalist movement[edit]

A central premise of the growing survivalist movement, of which Rawles is a leading spokesman,[58] is concern about the risk of a coming societal meltdown and the need to prepare for the repercussions. Rawles said that an incorrect far-right "lunatic fringe" media image has developed in part because of the actions of a radical few such as Timothy McVeigh. He called this a distortion of the true message of survivalism. Unlike the fringe proponents, Rawles focuses instead on "family preparedness" and "personal freedom". Rawles explains that the typical survivalist does not actually live in a rural area, but is rather is a city dweller worried about the collapse of society who views the rural lifestyle as idyllic. Speaking from his experience, Rawles cautions that rural self-sufficiency actually involves "a lot of hard work".[59] In 2009, he was quoted as saying: "There's so many people who are concerned about the economy that there's a huge interest in preparedness, and it pretty much crosses all lines, social, economic, political and religious. There's a steep learning curve going on right now."[3]

American Redoubt movement[edit]

In March, 2011, Rawles formulated the American Redoubt movement. This plan designates five western states (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, eastern Oregon, and eastern Washington) as a safe haven for conservative Christians and Jews.[60] The concept was endorsed by former Presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin, who had recently relocated his entire extended family to western Montana.[61] It also soon inspired the launch of a weekly podcast by Christian Libertarian journalist John Jacob Schmidt, called Radio Free Redoubt and the launch of American Redoubt Realty and Survival Retreat Consulting dedicated to help further the movement.[62]

Secret ranch location[edit]

In the past, Rawles has lived in Livermore, California, San Jose, California, near Orofino, Idaho, near Smartville, California, in Fremont, California, and near New Washoe City, Nevada. An article published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 2008 asserted that Rawles lived in California, but later in that article, Rawles noted that the location of his ranch in the United States is kept secret. "We don't actually reveal our location, even at the state level. All that I'm allowed to say is that we're somewhere west of the Rockies. We intentionally keep a very low profile. We just don't want a lot of people camping out on our doorstep the day after everything hits the fan."[63] The German FAZ newspaper asserts that the ranch is in northern Idaho.[64] Others have claimed that the "undisclosed location" of the ranch is in Nevada, Utah, Wyoming or even in Central America.[1] His mailing forwarding address is in Newcastle, Wyoming.[65] A CNN Europe article written before his first wife died noted that Rawles "...lives on a ranch in an undisclosed location with his wife (who he refers to in his blog affectionately as "the Memsahib") and their children. Their life is almost entirely self-sufficient: They keep livestock, hunt elk and the children are schooled at home. Stored away in the ranch somewhere is a three-year supply of food."[66] In an article titled "The Most Dangerous Novel in America", Rawles told The Daily Beast: "I’m not at liberty to discuss where I live. It’s part of an agreement I made with my wife. I really can’t go into the details. We live in a very remote area. I embrace technology. We don’t live in a cellphone area, but I’m online constantly. We’re just prepared to live off-grid, if the power grid goes down. Because of the nature of my blog and my novel, I don’t just want anonymity, I need anonymity. I could wake up some morning in the aftermath of some crisis and look out in my barnyard and see five Winnebagos and some TV crews. I don’t want fans of my books to descend on my property, so I have to be perspicacious."[11] In 2009, Rawles told an Agence France-Presse reporter: "I'm surrounded by national forest. A river runs through the back end of the property, so there's no shortage of water and no shortage of fish or game to shoot. If Western civilization were to collapse tomorrow, I'd have to read about it on the Internet. I just wouldn't notice."[67] His U.S. mail address is a post office box in Newcastle, Wyoming, but his main web site server is in Sweden.[65] On an appearance on a September 2013 radio show he indicated in conversation that he was "located in the inland Northwest", which includes eastern portions of Oregon, Washington and in some cases can also reference Idaho and British Columbia.



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External links[edit]