Print Reviews

David’s Tool Kit: A Citizen’s Guide to Taking Out Big Brother’s Heavy Weapons

by Ragnar Benson

I Walked Away: An Expatriate’s Guide to Living Cheaply in Thailand

by Michael Ziesing

Loompanics 1996

A double book review? Sure, why not? The way them guys at Loompanics are pressing these things out, it’s hard to keep up. Besides, in a weird sort of way, these two books compliment one another. The titles pretty well wrap up the subject matter of each book without me having to add things. In one, you’re dealing with the nightmare scenario of having to fight your own government against horrible odds. In the other, you’ve basically told your own government to go take a flying fuck at the moon and have run off to deal with somebody else’s government instead. Two sides of the same coin? Yes. And in more ways than one. Tool Kit is a heavy, grumpy book that does not read quickly or entertainingly. Walked Away is nearly its exact opposite in content and style. This seems appropriate to me. Each book addresses its chosen subject matter and deals with it as best befits that subject matter.

In Tool Kit, the assumption is that things have gone all the way down the toilet and there’s nothing for it other than attempting to take the greatest number of the bastards out with you when you go. Walked Away presumes that somewhere, somehow, there are good people out there who are worth no small investment of time and effort in attempting to integrate yourself with them. Walked Away is loaded with precious jewels of philosophical insight. Michael Ziesing has his priorities on straight and wants you to have yours on straight too. Some of his best material consists in these little attitude corrections. Tool Kit wastes very few words on this sort of thing. Aside from a forlorn plea in the very back of the book, Ragnar Benson has pretty much quit worrying about attitudes and focused exclusively on actions instead.

Which approach is better? My guess is that it’s situationally dependant. Neither book claims to be exhaustive and although both have extensive referential citations, Walked Away manages to do it much more smoothly and palatably. The thought of reading the Trink Page in the Bangkok Post, should I ever fetch up there someday, seems far more appealing than having to go dig out a copy of OSS Sabotage & Demolition Manual in order to complete the construction of the thermite grenades I intend to use on some steel monster or other. Your mileage may vary.

All in all, both books are enjoyable and chilling at the same time. They’re both loaded with lots of no-nonsense information, but the need for that information rests squarely on the assumption that things are not going well here at home. I would prefer not to have to actually USE either one of these little books, but it’s nice to know they’re around should need call. Buy ‘em both.

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