Book Review – Prairie Fire

Prairie Fire is a training and readiness manual focusing on people in rural areas.  It’s written by USMC and US Army Special Forces Veteran Clay Martin.  This is a companion book to his earlier “Concrete Jungle”, which focused on Urban Preparedness.

Let me start off, once again, by saying that I bought these books myself, and Clay Martin did not ask me to write these reviews.  In fact, he has no idea what I’m about to say, and he’s seeing this review for the first time, too.

We are indeed at a crossroads, as a nation.  It’s virtually impossible to envision an outcome to our nation’s differences that does NOT result in violence.  We can hope for a miracle, but hope is not a strategy.  Taking a few actions to prepare yourselves will, at worse, result in you being a little better prepared and well-trained.  The opposite is not true; if you don’t prepare or train, and should have, NOTHING you can do will make up for it.

Overall, it’s an outstanding guidebook for building a local defensive organization to protect yourselves from groups migrating from the cities, whether they be refugees, marauders, or an opposing (or foreign) force.

Clay begins with a good discussion on building your group, and guarding your information from ANYONE else.  Once again he points out the risk of over-zealous federal law enforcement agents trying to find groups and convince them to undertake things they shouldn’t.  If you keep your core group small, and tight knit, you don’t have that problem.

He also introduces the idea of a larger organization made up of everyone from the local area.  While Clay uses the term infantry, I’d be more likely to call them “Watch-Standers”, which is closer to the truth.  They’ll stand watch over the community, but they are an infantry of last resort.

Clay highlights the differences between defending in an urban environment and a rural one, and they are truly two different animals.  An excellent point he makes, which I’ve also made several times, is that the US military cannot enforce martial law or hold territory over most of the country.  At most, they could hold a few of the larger cities.  

Side note of my own at this point…The minute things go sideways in the United States, with any widespread violence, our enemies will not sit idly by.  Russia will retake the Baltic states and the Ukraine, while China will immediately retake Taiwan and start the expansion into northern Australia (northern Australia and Western US are both among their national strategic goals, they need arable land to grow food and land for people).  Our conventional military will have their hands full with those issues.

As things begin to go south and people start fleeing the cities (they already are, look at rural real estate markets), Clay recommends immediately beginning intelligence collection on them , deciding which side they support, and who could be useful.  These are essential information requirements and you may as well start now.

Clay makes the same point that I’ve been screaming from the rooftops…were losing and losing badly in the street war.  Everyone has this misconception that “When they come to my neighborhood, I’ll fight them”…they don’t NEED to come to your neighborhood to win.  In 2014, in the Ukraine, they only took a few square blocks around the capital and overthrew the government.

Martin points out the errors in assuming your enemy is stupid.  This is a big point, because everyone on the right likes to crack jokes about the left and guns, but the TRUTH is, they are buying guns, they are training, and they are actually gaining battle experience while we eat Cheetos and lick the orange off our fingers.

Clay makes the point that ANTIFA and BLM are adapting, a point I’ve seen with my own eyes conducting surveillance and undercover operations among them.

Clay made a great point, in the book he says bombings and assassinations are next ,and we’re already seeing assassinations.  Clay then said we are “One step away from People’s Courts and Tribunals”, which has ALREADY come true.  Last Sunday, in Detroit, the local RevCom/BLM/ANTIFA consortium broadcast literally a “People’s Tribunal into the Death of Hakeem Litteton”.  It’s on the Detroit Will Breathe Facebook page, if you want to look for yourselves.

We need to get over the normalcy bias, that this will all just magically work out.

Clay mentions that hygiene is often overlooked in preparedness, and he’s right, because it isn’t a fun topic.  But don’t plan on it and see what happens (You can from “Dissin’ Terry” in places other than the Oregon Trail).

I’ve frequently made the point that you need to train on checkpoint operations, and so does Clay.  I know, training on building clearing and shooting upside down hanging from a jungle gym (don’t laugh, it’s a drill someone teaches on YouTube for no apparent reason) are much more cool, but reality is that DEFENSIVE operations are far more likely than you storming the Capitol (or the Governor’s summer home – but more on that later).

Clay points out that it’s silly to play by the rules when your opposition isn’t, and I co-sign that 200%.

So many groups (I won’t say the M word here, I live in Michigan and those peeps are vanishing left & right) focus on offensive combat operations, but that defeats the entire purpose of having a mutual aid group.  You are playing defense.  As Max at Max Velocity Tactical ( frequently says, “You are NOT light infantry”.

Clay goes into detail with some great tips on patrolling, but you’ll have to buy the book.  Pick up MVT’s “Small Unit Tactics” while you’re at it for additional reading.

In both of his books, Clay points out that if you prepare for the worst and anything less happens, you’re ahead of the game.  The opposite is NOT true. 

One of the best parts, ties directly to my blog post titled “On Being a Warrior”.  In my post, I said that in the coming times, you will have a choice to be a warrior, or a slave serving someone else.  Clay says the same thing when he points out that the day will come soon where you have to decide to either fight, or bend the knee.  I don’t know where you are at, but I won’t bend the knee while I’m still alive.  Right now, we aren’t bending the knee, but we are doing some squats to get ready to bend the knee by not doing anything.

Again, Clay brings up the military.  As a veteran, it pains me to say this, but the military will be in a tough spot.  They can’t hold everything.  In a fluid situation, who do they take orders from?  What if a Battalion Commander and Sergeant Major disagree?  The most likely default position is that most US Forces will focus on local base defense and preservation, and fighting any external threat that occurs.  The cavalry isn’t coming over the top of the mountain in the nick of time.

Clay stresses refugee screening at Entry Control/Vehicle Control Points, and gives some excellent advice in the book.  Buy it.

When it comes to defending your area from an attack, Clay makes the great point that you should defend from as far away as you can.  He reminds us all that while they fought to the last man at the Alamo, they LOST and there were NO survivors.  This idea of defending your home from attackers from the inside is a last-case scenario.  It means things have already gone bad.

Let me take an aside here…When I’m advising or training those…..groups whose names don’t start with an M… the push-back people give me when I tell them to stop with the building clearing is that they need to be able to clear their own house.  Let me tell you this…If you need to clear your own house, YOU ALREADY LOST.  As Clay pointed out in Concrete Jungle, no one breaches until they have the building perimeter secure, so if they breach, you blow the escape hatch and run.  Lose the fantasy of John Wick taking out 22 guys in his own house.

One of the greatest examples Clay gives of what is to come is one that I frequently point out as an example as well.  Once the killing starts, it will be nearly impossible to stop.  Clay uses the example of the South African farm attacks.  For over a year, I’ve been screaming from the rooftops that the vilification of white males is going to lead to that exact situation.  To see what eventually comes of it, look at Rhodesia/Zimbabwe.  They killed or drove off ALL of the white farmers.  Then, predictably, they began to starve to death in large numbers, because no one knew how to farm.  Now, they are welcoming South African farmers with open arms.  I say…#MakeZimbabweRhodesiaAgain.  The killing doesn’t have to make sense.

After mentioning the Boer farm war currently going on, Clay gives great tips on turning isolated farms into Combat Outposts that can hold out until a response force arrives.  In James Wesley Rawles’ Collapse series, he gives much the exact same advice.  The only thing is, farms need a way to communicate with a response force.  Enter CB radio, it’s HF, so it has range, and no one needs a license.  They are readily available.  Once the SHTF, all power restrictions go away, so crank up the watts for range.

Clay gives another reminder that everyone needs…anyone who suggests shortening rifles, building silencers, building bombs, or KIDNAPPING A GOVERNOR (even if she’s likely Hitler’s grand-daughter) is a federal agent or crazy, neither of which you want.

I have to disagree with one analysis Clay gives on evaluating veterans t o place them in positions…MARINE Military Police are NOT the same thing as ARMY Military Police, while the roles are SIMILAR.  Marine MP elements operate much farther forward and are frequently used as either infantry or mechanized infantry, far more than their Army cousins, so I feel he should have included them in the “Combat Arms”.  (*re-polishes USMC MP Badge in resin case on my desk*).

Clay gives a very good discussion on organizing your forces into tactical elements and I agree (as well as Max at MVT) that the USMC model is the most versatile.  That’s not inter-service rivalry, Max was never a US Marine (I think Brit army, then US). It’s just a robust organization.

After discussing organization, Clay discusses how to train on fire and movement.  While I’m not giving you any free data from the book, it’s a great and important discussion.  This basic infantry tactic is so important that if you ever train at Blackwater/US Training Center/Whatever They Call Themselves This Week, no matter what your prior service experience is, you do fire and fire & movement drills on a desktop with literal plastic green army men before you go out and do it for real.  Practice it.  Buy little green army men.

Seriously, I can’t stress this enough.  The major difference between Special Forces and regular troops isn’t Whiz-Bang Tactical-Ninjary, as Clay calls it, it’s how well they perform the most basic tasks of fire & movement and immediate action drills.

I’d add to his discussion on Fire & Movement the classic Marine Corps memory aid “I’m up, he sees me, I’m down” as a way to time 3-5 second rushes.

As a fellow Marine, I’m highly disappointed that it took Clay Martin until page 117 of his SECOND VOLUME to mention bayonetting people.  While I’m making fun, a bayonet is a solid piece of kit.  I highly recommend one…If the barbarians are in the wire and you get a stoppage, bayonetting the dude keeps him in place until you can clear the stoppage and put 3 in him.

In the book, Clay outlines the basic types of patrolling and how absolutely vital they are to our task of defending our areas.  Learn how to patrol.  While Clay gives great examples, find the original copy of “Scouting & Patrolling for Infantry Units” written by Lt Col Rex Applegate.  It’s awesome, and even better than the current Marine Corps version (because you can’t exactly call in artillery or air). 

Another excellent point Clay brings up is finding a pre-1997 Boy Scout Manual. Yes, really.  Before the SJW’s took it over it was an AMAZING organization.  My Scoutmaster was a Marine and we truly ran a paramilitary organization.  The older manuals discussed things like tracking and counter-tracking, survival, “Kim’s Game” (still used to this day to train snipers and recon personnel), and my dad’s old 60s version even had an entire section of self-defense with a quarter-staff.  Cool stuff to have.  Current versions are all about how to report your Scoutmaster for micro-aggressions and sexual assault.

My two cents on patrolling…Start rucking, which is just getting out and moving in full gear for fitness and the ability to move, under a load, in all weather.  My second piece of advice is to buy a book on Leave No Trace camping.  Yes, it’s a tree-hugger concept, but on a practical level, the ability to hike and camp without leaving a trace of your presence is NOT a bad thing.  

Clay goes over the basic bare minimum gear you need, with some low-cost, but tried and true options.  Really, you aren’t going to need all the stuff you saw in Off-Grid Magazine’s “Super-Ultra-Prepardeness Mega-Issue”.  Not by a long shot.  I will add to his recommendation of 2 actual military canteens: a canteen cup and canteen cup stove.  They cost you nothing in weight and you may use them at some point.  A lot of research goes into designing US gear, take advantage of it.

One of the best points made in the book is that we have become a soft and weak people.  We are not the same men who liberated the world from fascism.   As recently as the 50s, every man in the US could start a fire and build a campsite.  Do you think that’s true today?

Ivan Throne mentioned in one of his programs, what skills does the average US businessman possess that would help him in a dark world, without electricity?  NONE.

Clay gives good advice on making yourself harder and more weather resistant.  This is absolutely vital.  Yes, I live in Michigan, but I rarely wear an actual winter coat.  I don’t put on a jacket until it’s under 30, and I don’t put on a winter coat until it’s below 10.  It’s not because I’m from the frozen north…It’s because, like Clay, I once attended the Winter Session at the USMC Mountain Warfare Training Center.  That course has no equal in the US, and the 10th Mountain Division has NOTHING on a MWTC-qualified Marine.  The closest course would probably be the German Mountain Leader School.

Another point I completely agree with is training in the rain.  Most of those “groups” postpone their training or very few members actually show up when it’s raining or snowing.  Get used to being wet, cold, and hungry or hot, dehydrated, and hungry.  

In Generation Kill, as some of the Marines are scouting out an Iraqi camp, one of the young Marines makes fun of the rice and beans the Iraqis left behind.  Old hand “Doc”, the Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsman, says “These are some hard men, sleeping out here on the cold ground, living on beans and rice.  You guys bitch if you don’t get a Pop-Tart in your MRE”.  There is a lot of truth in that. Become the hard man (or woman, or Zhe).

Clay mentions Drew Baye for fitness training, and I second that (

Clay wraps up with a discussion of combat marksmanship, which isn’t just putting holes in paper, and a very good discussion of guns and accessories.  When considering a gun, stick to readily available calibers.  If things go sideways, you aren’t going to find too many bad guys gifting you stacks of 300 Blackout or 6.5 Grendel as their final act on this good Earth.  But, 5.56 and 7.62 will literally be laying around.  You really don’t need the rifle in that niche caliber that Rifle Ricky from Awesome Cool-Guy Rifles Magazine used in his YouTube video.  I don’t care what it did to the ballistic gel, as I’ve never been attacked by ballistic gel.

Clay finishes with some real life possibilities and the admonition to not just let things happen.  To fight and push back.

Just like Concrete Jungle, I highly recommend buying this book, highlighting the crap out of it, and putting dozens of post-it notes on pages you want to reference.

This isn’t a buy and read once book, and neither is Concrete Jungle.  They are meant to be a reference manual, so use it.

You can find the book at: 


Published by JD

I am the author of the Tactical Wisdom Series. I am a personal protection specialist and a veteran of the US Marine Corps. I conduct preparedness and self-defense training.

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