Lights Out by Ted Koppel | Book Review



Genre: Non-Fiction, Science, Politics

Source: Blogging For Books in return for an honest review

“To be dependent is to be vulnerable.”
-Ted Koppel, Lights Out

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 law and order are being tested as never before.

It isn’t just a scenario. A well-designed attack on just one of the nation’s three electric power grids could cripple much of our infrastructure—and in the age of cyberwarfare, a laptop has become the only necessary weapon. Several nations hostile to the United States could launch such an assault at any time. In fact, as a former chief scientist of the NSA reveals, China and Russia have already penetrated the grid. And a cybersecurity advisor to President Obama believes that independent actors—from “hacktivists” to terrorists—have the capability as well. “It’s not a question of if,” says Centcom Commander General Lloyd Austin, “it’s a question of when.”

And yet, as Koppel makes clear, the federal government, while well prepared for natural disasters, has no plan for the aftermath of an attack on the power grid. The current Secretary of Homeland Security suggests keeping a battery-powered radio.

In the absence of a government plan, some individuals and communities have taken matters into their own hands. Among the nation’s estimated three million “preppers,” we meet one whose doomsday retreat includes a newly excavated three-acre lake, stocked with fish, and a Wyoming homesteader so self-sufficient that he crafted the thousands of adobe bricks in his house by hand. We also see the unrivaled disaster preparedness of the Mormon church, with its enormous storehouses, high-tech dairies, orchards, and proprietary trucking company – the fruits of a long tradition of anticipating the worst. But how, Koppel asks, will ordinary civilians survive?

With urgency and authority, one of our most renowned journalists examines a threat unique to our time and evaluates potential ways to prepare for a catastrophe that is all but inevitable.


*I would like to thank Blogging For Books for the copy of this book in return for an honest review*

Koppel paints a vivid, intense and incredibly scary picture of a possible reality. In this day and age our society relies so heavily on electricity and the internet. Everything is digitalized and you never see anyone without an electronic device in front of their face 24/7. Even my three year old niece owns a tablet. Internet dependency of the current generation paves the way for new and unknown terrors. Koppel opens up this book setting the scene of what our lives and world would  look like if a cyber attack on the power grid took place. In our day with terrorist attacks happening all over the world it is just a matter of time until they start attacking other means of our living. It was not until I picked up this book that I realized the real possibility of such an attack happening.

Koppel has done his research and has tons of information from very high up and knowledgable people. He does a really good job of trying to get information from all sides and present a well thought out and unbiased picture of the near future possibilities of a cyber attack and what that would mean for the United States. There is a lot of science talk in this book and at times it gets dense and hard to follow along with. It is understandable with a book such as this, but at times the book was hard to get into and I had to read it in small chunks. Koppel does his best to try and evade this from happening by using real life metaphors. For example he was explaining the cyberspace world and how it works by comparing it to ebola and the way it spreads.

Overall this book was very eye opening to a extremely possible threat. It does seem like a plausible event that could take place and with the dependency that our society has on the internet it seems like such a smart move for someone who wants to attack and hinder the U.S. Whether it is totally possible anytime soon is the debate but I believe it is something to watch out for and to spread more money and time investigating. One of the more chilling parts of the book for me was the dedication written by Koppel:

“To our grandchildren: Jake and Dylan, Aidan, Alice and Annabelle, Cole and Grace Ann(e). Here’s hoping that Opi got it wrong.”

– Ted Koppel, Lights Out

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys non-fiction and thought provoking topics. Also if you enjoy dystopian or apocalyptic worlds and want to try some non-fiction this would be a good one to pick up!  Also Koppel recommends a fiction book One Second After by William Forstchen which is a similar story of what would happen if there was an attack on the power grid!



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