The following is a review generously submitted by the Tactical Wisdom blog and sent over. Check out his site – good stuff. Jack Lawson’s manual was compiled as a quick start guide for those finding themselves in an austere environment with the need to rapidly train up a team for community defense. This is a wildly different concept than much of the garbage purveyed online. What is written is by people who’ve demonstrated real-world expertise in their field, in austere environments, where failure bore consequences. Get your copy today. -NCS

It’s been said that the measure of a man’s intelligence is often how much he agrees with you. I felt that way as I read Volume 1 of Jack Lawson’s Civil Defense Manual. I’ll put link down below. Since he agrees almost completely with me, the man is clearly a GENIUS.

You’d think as an author writing books about preparedness and community defense, I’d be some sort of all-knowing expert, but the truth is, I realize that I’m not. I frequently seek other sources like Clay Martin’s outstanding books, Max Velocity’s material, and even some fiction with great tips in them, like Mark Sibley’s Mongol Moon (links to all these on the Recommendations page). The reason I do this comes from the Ultimate Tactical Handbook:

Where there is no guidance the people fall,
But in abundance of counselors there is victory.

Proverbs 11:14

The Civil Defense Manual is a hefty 2-volume set, and while it’s written by Jack Lawson, several experts contributed to the work, including some of my friends and advisors. People like Matt Bracken (, Mike Shelby of, and NC Scout for radio knowledge, among several others.

Today, I’ll be talking about Volume 1, and in a week or so, I’ll review Volume 2.

The “TL;DR” on this is: BUY THIS SET. The set is well worth the price.

Volume 1 deals with how to establish you own “Neighborhood Protection Plan”, to involve your neighbors in defending your area from events beginning at a Crisis Event through a Prolonged Crisis Event, and up to a Total Collapse of Society. The book walks you through the process from an initial meeting through operating your security group during a full collapse/WROL situation.

This is not an “overview” and “general concepts” book. This is a nuts-and-bolts complete operations manual. It discusses the roles and duties of every position you’ll need, the gear you’ll need, the people you’ll need, and how to organize your defense, right down to running an Entry Control Point, which I’ve discussed here and will be running in my next book.

We don’t agree 100% on every tactical step, but we do agree on the concepts and need for each of these things. For example, my Entry Control Point plan, based on my Marine Corps experience is slightly different than Jack’s experience in Africa, but the concept and layout is generally the same.

I’ll admit it, the medical gear lists in the Civil Defense Manual are more comprehensive than mine in the Baseline Training Manual, and I made a bunch of changes. The book also discusses learning and using homeopathic treatments. That’s vital, because while modern medicine looks down their nose at them, they are what kept us alive for millennia before modern medicine.

The book lists recommendations for steps to be taken in what the author terms “Crisis” events, like tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes, which are more likely than a complete societal breakdown. It also offers guidance for activating your security plan when the issues caused by the Crisis, like a power outage and food shortage, cause a “Prolonged Crisis”. That sure sounds my operating theory on preparing for second and third order effects, doesn’t it?

There is an entire food section in this manual that agrees entirely with my philosophy on food production, rather than food storage, and it discusses several real-world methods for storing and preserving food, while listing many additional resources. The key teaching, however, is the same as mine; work on developing the ability to PRODUCE food.

Where the manual excels is in discussing the day-to-day security operations that will consume nearly all of your time in a Prolonged Crisis or Total Collapse (sound familiar?). As I pointed out in both of my books, local security is the number one thing you’ll be doing in a WROL situation. Just like I do, Lawson recommends sending out patrols and establishing OP’s.

With the events in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa still fresh in our minds, this book set becomes even more vital. As I said, events in South Africa and the general world climate forced me to switch my next planned book to community defense operations, and this book is right on the same page.

There is a great chapter on weapon standardization, which I wholly endorse. If your group has 6 guys, each with rifles of different and unique calibers, you can’t resupply each other, let alone find additional ammunition in your 243 Nighthawk Super-Magnum. Your team should all use a standard caliber, and it should be something common like 5.56mm, 7.62X39, or 7.62×51. Those rifle calibers will be (pardon my pun) just laying around on the the ground, while that 300 Blackout might not be.

The same goes for pistol calibers. 9mm and 40 caliber will be widely available, but that 50 AE for your Desert Eagle might be a bit rare. I’ll even begrudging admit that Fudd-Special, A/K/A 45 ACP, will also be easy to find, usually still in the 7 round magazines on the broken hips of old guys who fell down while trying to draw their “PIECE”. (I’m looking at you, Mark Sibley).

The communications chapter also touched on something I overlooked regarding buying FRS/GMRS radio and standardizing the brand of those across your team. You need to buy the book to find out why. The book also discusses how to keep comms running without a grid and how to extend your network’s range.

All in all, this is a great book and I highly recommend adding it to your library. I would also recommend getting it ring-bound for ease of use. It’s in a large format and large print, because when you need it, electricity won’t be there for you to read by and large print is easier to see in the dark.

You can find it here:



I’ll review Volume 2 as soon as I finish reading it.

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