BigBBook009The Big Bloody Book of Violence: The Smart Persons’ Guide for Surviving Dangerous Times
By Kris Wilder and Lawrence Kane
Stickman Publications, Inc., Aug.15, 2015
337 pages, 7.5 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches, paperback, illustrated
MSRP: $19.95 at

Reviewed by Gila Hayes

As soon as I got past the title of The Big Bloody Book of Violence, I was hooked on the knowledge compressed into Kris Wilder and Lawrence Kane’s latest book.

It’s a keeper, so I may have to tear off the cover–I’m a bit paranoid about titles on my bookshelves from which others may draw false conclusions about my mindset. Its title derives from Kane and Wilder’s 2009 bestseller, The Little Black Book of Violence: What Every Young Man Needs to Know About Fighting. In contrast, The Big Bloody Book teaches the very adult task of taking responsibility for your own safety, and in its over 330 pages, does it very well.

Taking responsibility starts with understanding why you may be victimized. “Understanding the criminal mind and recognizing the goals by their actions allows you to see the violence from their perspective, because seeing it from any other perspective is a denial of what is actually happening,” the authors write. Each chapter starts with a story or news vignette, illustrating a specific danger, then the crime is analyzed and solutions and defenses offered. It is an effective format.

Early on, the authors discuss Americans’ increasing hesitancy to take responsibility for personal safety. “Intentionally or unintentionally, society is teaching us from a very young age to outsource responsibility for our safety and security to authority figures, be they school administrators, law enforcement officers, or legislators,” write Wilder and Kane.

Under the guise of “socialization” citizens are taught that any violence is unacceptable. Zero-tolerance policies create huge victim pools, easy pickings for bullies, thieves, and more serious predators. Kane and Wilder add that violent crimes occur in the heat of the moment and “when guns aren’t available knives, vehicles, bludgeons, and a whole host of impromptu weapons take their place.”

The fifth chapter urges us to understand what is important enough to fight for and that list is surprisingly short. Escape is #1, and they outline dangers inherent in fighting to control a threat or intervening to protect another person. Know your goal, they urge: “You will markedly increase your odds of survival. And, you’ll have a leg up in the aftermath as well since you’ll be able to paint a clear picture of why you had to do whatever you did as well as why it was necessary. It’s valuable to think this stuff through ahead of time, practice scenarios, and get a little experience under your belt since it’s very hard to think logically during the heat of battle.”

Next, the authors analyze specific hazards, suggesting a variety of avoidance and survival strategies. Workplace violence leads the discussion, including how to address workplace safety concerns with management, decrease your target profile, implement a buddy system, fall back plans for both hiding from an attacker and for escaping, avoiding predictable patterns in parking, commuting and where you customarily sit, and more great advice the reader can immediately put into practice.

I also liked the chapter about safety while using public transportation, in which the authors advise, “Pay attention to your fellow passengers, observing anything unusual or suspicious. Pay attention to impromptu weapons at your disposal such as flashlights, fire extinguishers, soft drink cans or bottles, belts, books, briefcases, or laptop computers, to name a few...Choose an aisle seat if you can and be prepared to act if something untoward actually occurs.”

Surviving in crowds is addressed in a later chapter, with a very good explanation about riots and panic behavior, including this advice, “Any sudden change in the demeanor of the crowd, unforeseen gathering of onlookers, agitators overseen encouraging a confrontation, or people rapidly moving into your space may be warning signs of impending violence.”

The authors also cover dangers from gangs, and among their recommendations, pass along advice to, “Learn how to make proper eye contact. Locking eyes with someone can be perceived as challenging, not a good thing generally but especially bad when gang members are involved, but breaking eye contact can cause problems, too. If you look up it is considered dismissive, a sign of arrogance. If you look down, it’s weak, indicating you’re a victim. Always break contact by looking sideways; it’s the least threatening action.”

You’ve got to love the chapter about “Nike-do:” the honorable art of running away. The authors advise, “Simply running is not good enough, it must be done strategically.” They go on to explain that escape and evasion are not as simple as all-out flight. Disable immediate threats first, then move to safety–don’t just run blindly. When possible, leave obstacles behind. I loved this chapter! Who knew that running and hiding was an art?

A complicated chapter on what could be called burning off the fog of war explains why it is so important to ignore the many inconsequential distractions present in a fast-breaking critical incident and key in on what is actually happening. Recognize pattern disruptions, the authors teach, advising scanning and pausing to see what is happening. Ignore others at the scene who rush right by and put their backs to the threat.

The chapter on home invasions makes the important distinction that this crime is not a simple resource predation aka burglary, since most burglaries are committed when the home is empty so that the criminal can get away with the most stuff. Home invasions, on the other hand, include follow-home robberies where you may not even get out of your car port before you are attacked, the authors account, and add that home invasions are most likely to include multiple and armed offenders, since a violent blitz is often the leading act in overwhelming the home’s residents into compliance.

Recommendations include specifics about choosing where to live, layering home defenses, and reducing your attractiveness to this type of criminal. For gun owners, they add, “In a home invasion scenario you will likely be facing one or more armed assailants. You will rarely have enough time to go and get your gun, so you’ll need to have it with you.” They conclude the chapter with, “Few things are as adrenalizing as fear for your life and that of your loved ones due to a sudden, violent, and overwhelming ambush in your home. Home invaders don’t just bust in, more often than not they bust in violently—shooting, stabbing, clubbing, punching, or kicking. Such incidents are critical and fraught with danger, but prevention and preparation can help you get through,” closing with a strong recommendation for professional, hands-on training.

Next, victim selection processes are outlined, as is a good review of pre-attack indicators, the difference between racial profiling and behavioral profiling and other hints and clues that danger is afoot. The next chapter moves forward into surviving if assaulted, stressing the importance of mental toughness and determination, and recognizing when to stop to preserve your self-defense justification.

This review only scratches the surface of this detailed book. Each chapter ends with a good bullet-point summary and from beginning to end, the illustrative stories make the many lessons memorable.

In our area of concern, victory is a fight avoided. Wilder and Kane’s latest book is an excellent resource in learning what to avoid, why and how to stay out of the predator’s view, and what to do if preemption fails and we do have to defend ourselves.

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