Author Topic: Book Review- MAGS: The People Part of Prepping  (Read 5476 times)

Offline Chemsoldier

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Book Review- MAGS: The People Part of Prepping
« on: August 04, 2014, 09:20:57 PM »
MAGS: The People Part of Prepping by Charley Hogwood, Create Space, 2013, 304 pages, Table of Contents, Glossary, Bibliography.

I think the organizational and leadership part of prepping has been largely overlooked in prepping sources.  Where it has been examined it has often been done superficially and in a way that contains many untested assumptions or even substitutes things like theology for a real look at group dynamics and how to have a successful group (which is another way of saying, "Just get people who think like you and you wont have any problems.")  Being someone who has had to live with myself for years, I KNOW that isn't the case.

So I was very excited to hear of the publication of this book.  Through the miracle of modern technology I instantly downloaded it to my Kindle (and myself onto about 15 watch lists) and devoured it in about 5 hours (I was on a trip and had the flu, so there were not many distractions).  The book covers the advantages of Mutual Assistance Groups (his catch-all for survival groups); groups structures, sizes and why leadership is important; how to start a group; group dynamics and how to avoid or deal with conflict; group location considerations; roles and responsibilities within the group; establishing a team charter; special skills needed in a group; training, team building and group projects; contingency planning; decision making; activation plans; communications; meetings; new memberships (includes vetting new members); resources; interacting with the outside world and threats.

The Good:  He hits on a lot of areas that are only covered anecdotally in prepper sources (usually in novels) in a systematic way and does research in the area.  The author uses real theories of group dynamics and psychology.  He has obviously done his studying.  He also does a great job bringing basic military techniques into the study without being overbearing.  For instance he introduces the basic Operations Order format, which is a useful way to give a group an operational plan using a consistent method.  This allows all members of the group to know where certain key information is located in the brief.  However, he does not harp on it excessively or use a constant flow of military jargon.  The author does have military experience in the national guard.  He hits many areas to include convoys, negotiation, security, team building, retreat location, group structures.  All these things are valuable.

The Bad: He hits on so many areas that he can only go into a small amount of detail about any one part.  This book is just a start and lets you know just how much you dont know about the art of leadership and how to form a group to survive.  Groups and their leadership is a HUGE set of interlocking skills and disciplines that can be studied intensively for years without learning it all.  The author acknowledges this and that this book is just a starting place.  Some of his coverage of topics is so brief that I think it might be mildly dangerous to JUST use this book and take it as gospel.  Some of the prepper novels talk about these topics more than this book (mayhap because the authors are long winded).  So just be warned, you cant read one book on MAGS and leadership and be "done."   To be fair, he could have made the book 900 pages (and lose a lot of readers) and not do justice to all these topics.

The Ugly:  Well, I dont really have an ugly.  Its a good book.  I would not have organized the book the way he did, would have placed different lengths of material against different subjects, not included certain subjects that he chose to because I think they are tangential to the subject of the book (though useful).  Those are personal hang-ups on my part.  I taught ROTC cadets for a while so the teaching of small unit leadership is something I have an opinion on.  I dont really disagree with him much, I just would have presented differently.  He does a fine job.  Especially in an area where so little has been done previously.  This is a hard topic because groups and leadership are not just a prepper thing.  They are a group and leadership thing that can be applied to prepping just like they can be applied to the military or boy scouts or the Parent Teacher Association.

I would recommend this book to the prepper looking to expand their horizons beyond survival for themselves and their nuclear family.  If you think you might be performing some form of leadership function in your circle of friends/preppers/extended family/community/etc. you should absolutely read this book...and I am very sorry but you have years of additional reading and hard work to look forward after it to get where you need to be.  Its a complicated thing and as much art as science.

« Last Edit: August 04, 2014, 09:26:17 PM by Chemsoldier »


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Re: Book Review- MAGS: The People Part of Prepping
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2014, 09:29:33 PM »
Thank you! I was worried it was going to be a basic "dime a dozen" leadership primer in prepper clothing, I will certainly be buying it now that I know that is not the case!

Great Review, Thanks Chemsoldier!


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Re: Book Review- MAGS: The People Part of Prepping
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2014, 10:02:10 PM »
+1 nice review and exhibition of the effectiveness of peer pressure. ;)

Offline ChiAz

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Re: Book Review- MAGS: The People Part of Prepping
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2014, 07:19:09 AM »
Amazon shows that it has been re-released with a new name, The Survival Group Handbook.

"The Survival Group Handbook (formerly known as MAGS: The People Part of Prepping, see here for additional book reviews: is the first and most comprehensive book ever written on the subject of survival with others. It is designed to walk you through all the steps required to safely and securely find, and work with other people just like you who realize that going it alone in a dark world is not an option. This guide is the instruction manual and reference textbook for the solo survivor, family or national organization regardless of size or mission. By employing the hard learned lessons carefully researched in cooperation with many active groups, and applying sociology, history, law and threat analysis, the survivor will understand what makes a group work, how to build one from scratch, how to fix one that has become dysfunctional and where to put your group in a hurry. If you want to put a razor’s edge on your team, understand how to effectively lead people, increase participation, correct poor group dynamics, and be able to successfully operate under a multitude of conditions, this book holds all the keys to your success."

Offline Frugal Upstate

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Re: Book Review- MAGS: The People Part of Prepping
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2015, 05:36:20 AM »
I've been meaning to go back and look at your review, just finally got around to it!  Thanks so much.

Leadership IS a complex skill--totally different from "management"--glad someone is at least touching on it. 

Offline Cedar

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Re: Book Review- MAGS: The People Part of Prepping
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2015, 06:12:40 AM »

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Book Review- MAGS: The People Part of Prepping
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2017, 06:08:16 AM »
Thanks for the review, Chem.  Totally breezed past it until you pointed it out on another thread.