The Mandibles - Book Review - Conclusion

Posted On: Saturday - February 1st 2020 12:19PM MST
In Topics: 
  Preppers and Prepping  Economics  The Future  Books

(This is the conclusion of this serial book review - see Introduction, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4, and Part 5.)

Here's a blurb about the author from the back inside of the book cover:

Does she really believe in this novel? If so, she might better fatten up for the SHTF! ;-}

Lionel Shriver's The Mandibles, a novel of near-future American in a long-term economic crisis, is definitely worth reading for anyone interested in economics alone. It is such a great illustration of the long term ill effects of the high-minded economic policies being carried out by many governments, but specifically as related to the American experiment in easy money. Yes, the FED is discussed by the characters, something I doubt happens often in any real American family save for during family reunions at Dr. Paul's house in Texas.

The parallels between the happenings in the Great Depression 1.0 at an even century before the timeline of this book to this story are interesting, as are the differences, the main one being that America was still a big wealth creator and net exporter last time. The divergence in aftermath and government policies from the 1930s economic crisis to the 2030s one is seen too. I imagine that was done purposefully by the author.

As a prepper book, this novel illustrates one scenario out of multiple possible ones that could go down when this debt shitshow of an economy goes tits up. I think it's one of the more likely ones of those that preppers envision. As I've gone over in this long review, the description of the increasing economic and other misery that occurs during the 1-2 decades of the original economic crisis are told from a female point-of-view. It misses a whole lot that would be important to civilization, the actual workings of society, that men invent and control.

One could contrast this female viewpoint (somewhat) with the William Forstchen prepper novel One Second After, reviewed here. The latter was written about a different scenario starting the crisis, an Elecro-Magnetic Pulse, with just as much misery, but with more of a keep-things-running, rebuild-the-civilization male point of view. (Being a history professor, unfortunately, that writer doesn't know too much about it all either.) One Second After doesn't have any of the economic discussion, as the worry is about fragile state of the technological world. It's an important worry, but I think the economic business will be the root cause or greatly-exacerbating cause of whatever may happen. As one last comparison, Miss Shriver's long-term extrapolation of events is more believable than the Statist point of view of William Forstchen, who, as I wrote in that review, has the US Navy coming to save everyone left at the end! Hahaaaa! Dude, please ..!

If you haven't already thought about it, you'll learn about what high inflation is like, how the American economy can go 3rd world slowly, then quickly, what the real worth of different kinds of assets are, how could they be defended, how one could survive, the importance of the family, all as told from a city-dweller's point-of-view. It's real illustration of almost all preppers' advice to get out of the city, either beforehand, or via your bug-out vehicle with your bug-out bag.

Being a futurist novel, there are quite a few other envisionings of future technology, lack thereof, demographic trends, and other things that may or may not come to pass. Some of it will be seen as prescient, other as silly. As the man said, "it's hard to make predictions, especially about the future."

The drawbacks of the book, that is, the woman's viewpoint, the unrealistic-reading use of conversations to make economic points, the ignorance of massive immigration's influence on America, and a few other fairly minor flaws, are not enough to stop this book from being very enjoyable and well worth reading. For you economist-thinkers (you don't have to be a professor - it'd probably help not to be) and you preppers, and especially those that are interested in both, this is the book for you! Peak Stupidity highly recommends The Mandibles.

PS: The next book review will be required to be contained in 2 or fewer posts, per editor request. Stupidity is stacked in 3-foot piles covering 90% of the office, and it ain't gonna post itself!

Thursday - November 9th 2023 7:14PM MST
PS - Your website is really an under-appreciated gem. I'm forwarding your columns to some friends, in the hope that a couple will check in at your site on their own later.

The multi-part Mandibles review was fine, well worth it :)
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