The book begins with a fascinating synopsis of Lundin's life philosophy. A native of Arizona and head of the Aboriginal Living Skills School, Lundin's life philosophy is the opposite of what many of us might expect when we hear the word "survival." Lundin is not interested in superficial ideas about toughness, looks or any other Rambo-esque qualities. Instead, Lundin writes, "What happens to you externally is only a reflection of what goes on internally, so all true self-reliance begins with you, how you relate to yourself and others in your world." Lundin goes on to emphasize that deep, honest soul-searching is among the most important qualities of survival--before and during a crisis situation.
This logical--and even loving--philosophy of Lundin's permeates, and you feel like you're reading a book by a life-coach or a motivational speaker instead of a survival guru. Recognizing that readers may be taken aback by his focus on philosophy, Lundin writes, "Why am I rambling on about this 'esoteric hippy stuff' and not talking about what kind of food and ammo to buy? Please wake up and accept your eventual freedom! Dealing with the cause of an emergency is far superior to dealing with its effect."
This tone of encouragement lasts throughout the entire book. As Lundin moves from a discussion of looking inside ourselves toward tangible specifics, the sense that he is rooting for us to really "get it" is paramount. The author seems content with his own self, and his work as a survival teacher and an author is not to prove anything about who he is, but rather to instruct others on how we might come to more fully depend on ourselves, take responsibility for our actions and live with rather than off the Earth.
Lundin practices what he preaches. How many of us have sighed with disgust after reading a guide to (fill in the blank: spiritual growth, overcoming addiction, maintaining peace, having a healthy marriage, etc.) only to find that the author went wild in a fit of rage, became an atheist or had gotten divorced three times? Lundin uses his own life as an example, but not condescendingly. He reveals, "My home is heated entirely by the free clean energy of the sun," and he continues to explore the ways in which he has created a way of life rather than a reactionary method to survival and peace.
Those who might approach a book with the theme of survival will be happily surprised by the inclusion of a bunch of graphics, comics and quotes from people as varied as Abraham Lincoln, Confucius and Gov. Janet Napolitano. These pearls of wisdom scattered throughout Lundin's sections on fear, self-reliance, foods, water and stress offer welcome anecdotes and help thread the idea that a way of life is being preached rather than a quick-fix.
I enjoyed three years of leading wilderness trips through the Adirondack mountains, and I grew up in a family of five boys (it can be debated which situation constitutes a harsher survival scenario), and I can report that Cody Lundin's book is an insightful and even fun read. The knowledge-based material about everything from skewering mice to sanitizing water found in the oddest of places is handy to have in mind, but perhaps an even greater attribute is the exhortation Lundin makes to change the way we live our lives. Lundin includes an array of stark and shocking statistics throughout the book (such as the fact that the average American uses 345 gallons of water a day while the average African uses four), and a reader may close the book with a desire to live more simply, use the Earth's resources more frugally and try to have generally more peace rather than anxiety and fear.
Arizona readers will come away from When All Hell Breaks Loose with a variety of passages underlined, starred and circled, as well as pages folded for the inevitable inward thought: I'd like to return to this part again. Lundin's suggestions and encouragements are clear and kind, offering readers a new-found confidence regarding survival before crises occur.