Bunker: Building for the End Times

Scribner. Aug. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9781501188558. $28. SOC SCI
Bunkers represent our deepest anxieties about life in the 21st century: pandemics, political instability, crime, and climate change. Far from being relics of the Cold War, bunkers are part of our everyday existence. They act as safe rooms in homes, gated communities, and former military facilities. Garrett (geography, Univ. College Dublin; London Rising), an academic, photographer, and urban explorer, sets out across four continents to examine the efforts of various doomsday preppers. Along the way, he meets “dread merchants,” doomsday capitalists trying to make a profit combining end-time fears with entrepreneurship. There are also homestead preppers who preach a mix of self-sufficiency and community building. In Australia, vehicles, often built from military surplus, serve as mobile bunkers for those preparing to flee. In Utah, Garrett encounters Mormons who prepare for the next emergency as much as future disasters. The COVID-19 pandemic serves as an ever-present reminder that for many preppers their years of stockpiling and preparation have been vindicated and, for some, “dread merchants” become good business. A glossary of terms helps to make sense of prepper lingo.
VERDICT Readers interested in current topics, cultural studies, and survivalism will enjoy this insightful look at prepper culture.

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