One of my literary New Year's resolutions was to read more non-fiction. I told myself that one out of every ten books I read will be non-fiction. The first one of the year is probably one of the more terrifying books of the year.
Lights Out is an investigative look at would happen in the United States if there were a cyberattack on our power grid. Ted Koppel interviews top officials both past and present to see how likely a cyberattack would be and discovers exactly how easy it would be to cripple the United States without the electricity we rely on for everything. Lights Out also looks at what the government would (or could) do to help citizens who are ill prepared to go more than a day or two without a trip to the grocery store. Not to mention access to water and sanitation that also rely on electricity to work. After looking at a few recent catastrophic events such as Hurricane Sandy or Hurricane Katrina it is obvious that widespread power outages for more than a few days would indeed be catastrophic for most of our country. The final part of the book explores people in our country who are prepared for the event of such a catastrophe. He interviews people in Wyoming, Missouri, and Utah (All places I have lived I must note) and the common theme is the self-reliance that runs deep. He even interviewed officials for the Mormon church to discuss why the Church encourages it's flock to be prepared for anything and how they go about organizing millions of people to be prepared - including having food storage. In Lights Out Ted Koppel provides a fascinating, in-depth look at exactly what it would mean for the United States to have the power grid go down.
If you have been around my blog for more than a minute you are not surprised that I read a book called Lights Out. I admit that I was a bit surprised that such a respected journalist like Ted Koppel wrote a book about a topic that is still considered to be on the fringe of extremism. It lends a certain credibility to the movement often referred to as "Preppers". I would not consider myself a "prepper" so much as a desire to be prepared. Although I am not Mormon, it is easy to see the logic behind this facet of Mormon culture. I was invited to a "Food Storage Party" a few months ago and my husband thought it was a Tupperware party. Close - it was a party where the hostess was selling freeze-dried food with a shelf life of 25 years. I chuckled at my husband's incorrect assumption and said "Welcome to Utah". By the way, I did make a purchase at that party and am glad I did having read this book. One last thing to note about Lights Out is that several times throughout the book Koppel refers to a fiction book that I really enjoyed - One Second After. He refers to it, for not just how the subject matter aligns with this book, but also because it was that book that turned a lot of people onto the urgent need of being prepared for anything.
Bottom line - It is easy for some people to get so swept up in the "What if's..." of life that they let it consume them. Just look at the 24/7 coverage of the East coast blizzard. But, I believe that knowledge is power and the more you know the more you can be adequately be prepared for anything. Lights Out is an informative book that will help you be a little more knowledgeable and maybe even a little more prepared.