The best books about electrical grid vulnerabilities, and how precarious our survival is because of them

Why am I passionate about this?

I worked as an industrial electrician for over two decades. At one point during a meeting to discuss an upcoming project, a question was posed about the delivery time of a specific piece of equipment. When the answer was given that it would be about a year away, it got me thinking: what if a specialized piece of equipment—critical to the grid and with an equally long lead time—was destroyed, how would the grid survive? More importantly; how would we survive? That single statement was the spark that ignited the fire in me to learn all about the grid, and to write Dark State.   

I wrote...

Dark State

By Christopher J. Lynch,

Book cover of Dark State

What is my book about?

What do a paranoid prepper, a single mom, a self-absorbed Hollywood celebrity, a homeless vet, and the new head of CAL-OES have in common? They are five people out of forty million trying to survive the largest terrorist incident in US history.

After a coordinated brute-force attack brings down California’s electrical grid, it does more than just turn off the lights; cell towers go dead, fuel cannot be pumped, supply chains grind to a halt, and municipal water systems fail. In a matter of days, the country’s most populous state and fifth-largest economy in the world collapses.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of One Second After

Christopher J. Lynch Why did I love this book?

One Second After is aptly titled and it really drove home to me how quickly our society can fall apart without electricity and our high-tech conveniences. Rather than the slow burn of an impending disaster moving towards you from over the horizon, the book hits hard and fast. People die quickly and life as we know it comes to a screeching halt. 

The book also illustrates, in great detail, the challenges of trying to recreate a society—albeit even a small one, from scratch. The everyday facets of our life that we take for granted must be re-considered, evaluated, and then reinvented without any outside assistance.

The book ends on a hopeful note, but it is far from a happy ending—exactly like the real thing would be.   

By William R. Forstchen,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked One Second After as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A post-apocalyptic thriller of the after effects in the United States after a terrifying terrorist attack using electromagnetic pulse weapons.

New York Times best selling author William R. Forstchen now brings us a story which can be all too terrifyingly real...a story in which one man struggles to save his family and his small North Carolina town after America loses a war, in one second, a war that will send America back to the Dark Ages...A war based upon a weapon, an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP). A weapon that may already be in the hands of our enemies.

Months before…

Book cover of The Grid: A Journey Through the Heart of Our Electrified World

Christopher J. Lynch Why did I love this book?

Although there are novels with the same title, I chose the non-fiction, The Grid, by Phillip F. Schewe, as another one of the books that influenced the writing of my own book. Even though I was formerly an industrial electrician by trade, I only understood the function of the various components within the grid, and didn’t possess an intimate understanding of how it all tied together. In fact, this was the first book I ever read on the topic and it helped lay the groundwork for my knowledge. And although it is fact-based, it’s not overly technical and is written in such a way that it entertains as well as enlightens.

Most importantly however, was the fact that the book highlighted the vulnerability of a single key component of the grid (High-Power Transformers) and this understanding helped me develop the plot for my book.   

By Phillip F. Schewe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Grid as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The electrical grid goes everywhere-it's the largest and most complex machine ever made. Yet the system is built in such a way that the bigger it gets, the more inevitable its collapse.

Named the greatest engineering achievement of the 20th century by the National Academy of Engineering, the electrical grid is the largest industrial investment in the history of humankind. It reaches into your home, snakes its way to your bedroom, and climbs right up into the lamp next to your pillow. At times, it almost seems alive, like some enormous circulatory system that pumps life to big cities and…

Book cover of Outage

Christopher J. Lynch Why did I love this book?

I chose Outage by Ellisa Barr because it came from a unique viewpoint with regards to an attack that brings down an electrical grid; namely, a young person’s perspective. While other novels about grid attacks primarily have adults as a protagonist, Outage tackles the topic from a younger person’s frame of reference, along with all the unique adolescent problems that come with it. 

And while the temptation would be for the main character, an adolescent girl, to become a courageous and seasoned adult overnight, the author wisely takes her time and sets us on a journey of a slower evolution. While not containing any revelatory information about what elements of a society beset with no electricity would have to endure, I still liked this book as it reminded me to not always see things from my adult perspective. 

By Ellisa Barr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Outage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When fifteen-year-old Dee is left at her grandpa's farm in rural Washington, she thinks her life is over. She may be right.

An electromagnetic-pulse attack has destroyed the country's power grid, sending the United States back to the Dark Ages. Now Dee and Grandpa must face a world without electricity and clean water-let alone cell phones and the Internet-as well as the chaos brought on by this sudden catastrophe. Soon their town begins to collapse as disease and lawlessness run rampant. With handsome, troubled Mason and friendly boy-next-door Hyrum at her side, Dee fights to survive and deals with a…

Book cover of Lights Out: A Cyberattack: A Nation Unprepared: Surviving the Aftermath

Christopher J. Lynch Why did I love this book?

Lights Out is another great non-fiction book about electrical grid vulnerabilities. Koppel also spotlights High Power Transformers as the Achilles Heel of our electrical system 

But Koppel also does a deep dive on the survivability—or rather lack thereof, of our society if the grid were to be taken down. He even broke down various social classes of people: rural versus urban, and talked about how each group would survive based upon their skillsets and resources available to them. FYI: Ranchers fare best

He even discussed the amazing organization the Mormon Church has put together with regards to the preparedness of each of their members, as well as how they would leverage their collective strengths together as a group.

By Ted Koppel,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lights Out as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Ted Koppel reveals that a major cyberattack on America’s power grid is not only possible but likely, that it would be devastating, and that the United States is shockingly unprepared.

“Fascinating, frightening, and beyond timely.”—Anderson Cooper

Imagine a blackout lasting not days, but weeks or months. Tens of millions of people over several states are affected. For those without access to a generator, there is no running water, no sewage, no refrigeration or light. Food and medical supplies are dwindling. Devices we rely on have gone dark. Banks no longer function, looting is widespread, and…

Book cover of The Disaster Diaries: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Apocalypse

Christopher J. Lynch Why did I love this book?

I first heard of The Disaster Diaries from an interview with author Sam Sheridan. While not a book strictly related to a grid failure, it was still about disaster and surviving the breakdown of societal norms. 

What was so amazing about the book—and something that endeared the author to me, was his humility regarding his own lack of preparedness. Here was a man who had been an EMT, a mixed martial arts fighter, a fire-fighter, and a cowboy, and yet he still didn’t feel prepared enough to survive a disaster!

What follows is a unique journey as he learns stunt driving, knife fighting, even how to steal a car, all to help him prepare for “The Big One.” 

By Sam Sheridan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Disaster Diaries as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sam Sheridan has been an amateur boxer, mixed-martial-arts fighter, professional wilderness firefighter, EMT, sailor, and cowboy, and has worked in construction at the South Pole. If he isn't ready for the apocalypse, we're all in a lot of trouble.

Despite an arsenal of skills that would put most of us to shame, when Sam had his son and settled down, he was beset with nightmares about being unable to protect him. Apocalyptic images filled his head. If a rogue wave hit his beach community, could he get out? If he was forced outside the city, could he survive in the…

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Book cover of Captain James Heron First Into the Fray: Prequel to Harry Heron Into the Unknown of the Harry Heron Series

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Why am I passionate about this?

On the expertise I claim only a deep interest in history, leadership, and social history. After some thirty-six years in the fire and emergency services I can, I think, claim to have seen the best and the worst of human behaviour and condition. History, particularly naval history, has always been one of my interests and the Battle of Jutland is a truly fascinating study in the importance of communication between the leader and every level between him/her and the people performing whatever task is required.  In my own career, on a very much smaller scale, this is a lesson every officer learns very quickly.

Patrick's book list on the Battle of Jutland

What is my book about?

Captain Heron finds himself embroiled in a conflict that threatens to bring down the world order he is sworn to defend when a secretive Consortium seeks to undermine the World Treaty Organisation and the democracies it represents as he oversees the building and commissioning of a new starship.

When the Consortium employs an assassin from the Pantheon, it becomes personal.

Captain James Heron First Into the Fray: Prequel to Harry Heron Into the Unknown of the Harry Heron Series

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What is this book about?

The year is 2202, and the recently widowed Captain James Heron is appointed to stand by his next command, the starship NECS Vanguard, while she is being built. He and his team soon discover that they are battling the Consortium, a shadowy corporate group that seeks to steal the specs for the ship’s new super weapon. The Consortium hires the Pantheon, a mysterious espionage agency, to do their dirty work as they lay plans to take down the Fleet and gain supreme power on an intergalactic scale. When Pantheon Agent Bast and her team kidnap Felicity Rowanberg, a Fleet agent…

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