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I Read An Oregon Militiaman's Post-Apocalyptic Cowboy Thriller So You Didn't Have To


Finicum's 241-page apocalyptic cowboy thriller titled "Only By Blood and Suffering" is a how-to on surviving after a electromagnetic pulse or nuclear attack when your Escalade stops driving, the government has bought back all of your guns, President Bill Clinton signed away your country's missile technology to the Chinese, the Supreme Court is loaded with lefty judicial activists and you don't have an adequate amount of gold and "junk silver" to get by when the stock market implodes, interest rates balloon overnight and the value of the dollar collapses.

It's tough times to say the least and the book's overarching message is to be prepared for an infrastructure collapse coming to a community near you.

Finicum chronicles the struggle of the Bonham family's grown children as each copes with the political, financial and nuclear crisis that has befallen America. As Dan, Cat and the twins HayLee and KayLee attempt to return to their father's ranch, they must all grapple with the reality that they are not as prepared for a societal meltdown as dear old dad warned them to be.

"A twinge of guilt pulled at me. What would dad think with me showing up at the ranch with so little food? Of course he would say nothing and in no way try to make me feel like I had let him down. Bu I had. How many timed had he told us kids to lay up stores and supplies?"

Dan Bonham in that passage is reflecting as he seeks to leave the rioting streets of San Diego with his wife and kids (spoiler alert: the baby dies on the way).

Not a lot is known about many of the militiamen holed up in Oregon. According to NBC, Finicum has 11 children of his own and a ranch back in Arizona. We know that Finicum, who is Mormon, has stopped paying grazing fees to the federal government and is seriously worried about his cattle back home. He has emerged as a key player in the land right's movement.

Finicum published his novel in 2015 after he stood beside Cliven Bundy in the 2014 Nevada standoff against federal officials over grazing rights. (Bundy blurbs the novel and calls it "a book you do not want to read, but should.") The account–although it is fiction– is a peculiar amalgamation of a make-believe family encountering a series of very real conservative nightmares. It's chock-full of footnotes and allusions to modern-day right-wing obsessions over everything from how "the Republican party continues to alienate their conservative base" to NSA spying and the threat of a nationalized police force.

In the book, the NSA keeps a database of anyone who "bought three or more guns in the the last five years," "anyone who bought more than five hundred rounds of ammunition," "Libertarians," "members of the tea party," and anyone "who visited websites deemed anti government." The government also tracks credit card purchases so it knows which Americans have been preparing for a government collapse – an important point as the feds will collect supplies from those who have been stockpiling resources.

One of the main points of conflict in the book is not so different from what is playing out now at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. In the book, rogue cowboys are pitted against the authorities in the name of the Constitution.

It's not just that preppers must fight against fellow men to obtain bicycles, "bug-out bags," weapons and silver, but the book takes readers inside a world in which those prepared for the meltdown must also be ready to fight back– sometimes with intimidation and violence– against government officials who threaten to take their hard-earned resources and redistribute them.

One footnote references Obama's "executive order 13603– the National Defense Resources Preparedness," which the book says "gives the government the authority to seize any and all resources they deem needed in an emergency."

The culture of intimidation is echoed repeatedly in the book as the author makes references to the need for not only men, but also women to be "proficient" with the so-called "assault rifle." On many occasions guns are used to display dominance.

"My AR was cradled in my left arm. The chamber was charged and I clicked off the safety. Ann Rafferty [a mayor] was still talking as I walked out onto the floor. I walked towards the table and Ann started stumbling over her train of speech as she as she watched me come. Zackary Williams [a DHS officer] was at the end of the table and I passed to the right side. I did not stop until I had circled behind Zackary. This way my rifle barrel was always pointed in his general direction."

Finicum writes that to stop a government takeover, the townspeople end up hanging one government official - Ann Rafferty- a mayor who had "all the charm and good looks of a movie star" and "a figure that filled out her business skirts nicely."

Her "not pretty" and "not quick" execution is rationalized because "if a man cannot own and control his own property, he does not have freedom."

The book also alludes to a third party – the Independent American Party– which emerges to fill the void felt by Libertarians and tea party voters. A party of the same name, which has been linked to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, actually does exist -- and is actually engaged in an internal dispute today over whether or not to support the ranchers in Oregon.

About The Author

Lauren Fox is a reporter at Talking Points Memo.