I first heard of this book when the author contacted me and told me I would like it. Not satisfied to simply take his word for it, I did what any good blogger would do, I asked for a copy to review. Max, or Mr. Velocity as I like to call him has a pretty good sense of humor. This is what the email exchange between us looked like:
Mr. Slinger: “Here’s the info of the first of my complicated network of proxy mail
recipients (address redacted)”
Mr. Velocity: “We can do a dead drop next time, communicating only by coded
notes, that we eat after reading……:-)”
Mr. Slinger: “I’ve been eating coded notes for years. The amount of fiber in my
diet is incredible. My GI tract would run circles around that of a man
half my age.”
Mr. Velocity: ” Love it. Ha!”
Anyone who thinks my jokes are even remotely funny is OK in my book. But this article is not about my book, it’s about Contact!, so let’s get to it.
Illustrated with black and white diagrams
A photo of Max that reveals that he is actually prince William.
Table of Contents (Condensed):
Chapter 1: Starting Points
Chapter 2: To Stay or To Go
Chapter 3: Decision Making
Chapter 4: Training
Chapter 5: Basic Prinicples
Chapter 6: Casualties
Chapter 7: Post Event Vehicle Movement
Chapter 8: Dismounted Tactics
Chapter 9: Defense
Chapter 10: Patrols
Chapter 11: Tactical Use of Vehicles
Chapter 12: Offensive Operations
Chapter 13: Withdrawal
Chapter 14: Conclusion
You can view Max’s bio here. Short story is that he did a lot of soldiering in a lot of places. He also runs a blog here.
The first thing that becomes apparent when beginning to read the book is that A.) Max has thought the post collapse scenario through pretty well, 2.) he really seems to be a subject matter expert in the field of tactics, c.) his advice is not simply geared towards showcasing his tactical knowledge, he really advocates a prudent course of action for his intended reader.
Contact! was written for the average person, probably with a family including children, that finds himself in the midst of a post collapse situation. To that end Max stresses the importance of avoidance and concealment when dealing with potential contacts. Simply put, the best way to win a fight is not to be there. Sometimes that’s not possible, therefore Max wrote the rest of the book.
A few things about the book stood out to me. I’ve given some thought to the advantages of bugging out vs. bugging in. Max really brings that decision down to a very simple level. It makes it a lot easier to think it through in light of the perspective he puts it in. There was also good information on how to handle the actual movement of bugging out.
When I got into the middle portion of the book, I started feeling like there was a little too much repetition of the tactical fundamentals and too many diagrams of movement. I felt like I got a little lost a few times. By the time I got near the end of the book, however, I actually felt like my understanding of the principles themselves had gotten much better. The vocabulary and explanations started to be easily understandable, and I had to step back and realize that I was starting to get things on a higher level that I was previously.
My own previous knowledge of tactics is very narrow, but within that spectrum I have had a fair amount of practice. I felt that reading Contact! opened things up to a broader scope for me. For example, I had previously understood the concept of “fire and movement” in a very limited sense in terms of, for example, the buddy rush, and bounding overwatch, as separate and distinctive maneuvers that I had not even considered might be different expressions of the same principle.
I believe that understanding principles and context is more important that knowing minute subject matter details. I think that reading this book helped me to grasp the overall principles, as well as some practical examples.
The tone of the book is somewhat relaxed, which I don’t have a problem with. There’s also some humor, which I also appreciate. What I thought was perhaps a bit too casual was the repeated use of the word “cool”, as in, “that wouldn’t be cool,” that I thought could have been conveyed a bit more thoughtfully.
I mentioned before how when he really gets hard into the nitty gritty of the tactics, the book gets a little tedious. There are quite a few diagrams. While they may be necessary, they can be tough for the uninitiated to digest. Please keep in mind that overall the book did convey the tactical principles well overall. I would just suggest to Max that perhaps rather than, or in addition to, the dry explanation of the facts and diagrams, to draw either on historical examples of the tactics, or to create a short fictional story that would grip the reader for a moment while providing an example that would come across with more life than a diagram. People are wired for stories. Why not take advantage of it?
He mentioned the possible use of snipers early on in the book, but did not provide any examples in the meat and potatoes of the tactical discussion. Being interested in precision riflery and the tactical employment of snipers, it would have been interesting to read what Max had to say on the subject.
Verdict (I get to be the judge and jury here):
Max offers a useful perspective on framing one’s plans and preparations. Hopefully everyone has thought some scenarios through; if they haven’t then their brain probably is not doing much of anything (time to turn off the TV?). Max has obviously applied some experience and logic to the problem. His perspective makes a worthy read in my opinion.