Urban explorer and cultural geographer Bradley Garrett investigates the rapidly growing movement of "prepping" for social and environmental collapse, or "Doomsday." From the "dread merchants" hustling safe spaces in the American Midwest to eco-fortresses in Thailand, from geoscrapers to armored mobile bunkers, Bunker is a story from the frontlines of our age of disquiet and dread.
Garrett is a bright and buoyant guide and Bunker rattles briskly along. And he’s scrupulously fair to his subjects, mostly letting them speak for themselves. Indeed, a weakness of the book is that it is too fair to them. Fundamentally, prepping is a bleak and unpleasant philosophy. It might seem like a form of responsible cautiousness, but really it’s a bet against the rest of us ... Some of them appear to be egging the apocalypse on, eager for their underground investments to pay off. Given that, it’s deeply troubling to learn that many of the world’s richest people have a sideline in prepping, getting their off-grid doomsteads in New Zealand ready. But that’s what makes Bunker a necessary read—we should be keeping tabs on what they’re up to.
... a kind of apocalyptic Super Size Me, in which the author force feeds himself a steady diet of paranoia, conspiracy, eschatology and end-times architecture ... there is disquiet here ... There’s a thrilling, chilling coda to Bunker when the author goes on an illegal four-day walk into the ultimate apocalyptic heart of darkness at the Chernobyl exclusion zone ... The self-destruction of our species haunts this book: we realise that all along Garrett has been more interested in exploring human limits than human spaces.
Whether from sympathy (Garrett admits to his own prepper instincts) or academic discipline, the author displays a great deal more tolerance for the cast of conspiracy theorists, paranoiacs, libertarians and hucksters he encounters than many readers might possess. In my narrow-minded case, I find I rapidly lose interest in someone’s opinions the moment they declare that 9/11 was an inside job ... However, when Garrett gets an earful of Truther nonsense, he doesn’t rush to judgment. And he hears a lot of that kind of talk as he visits various bleak bunker sites across America, all of which promise to keep out the coming apocalypse.