Book Review: The Modern Survival Retreat

The Modern Survival Retreat was obviously written in the wake of federal government atrocities at Ruby Ridge, Idaho and Waco Texas. Benson considers the greatest threat to the prepper / survivalist to be government use of force against American citizens thus his focus is preparing against attack by some alphabet agency.

As Benson states; “Today people must contend with a host of regulators, bureaucrats, and other officials who want to micromanage how we work, play, interact, and simply live. But make no mistake about it – if you attempt to defy these authorities in the open, you will be taken down, often at the point of a gun. You will lose your freedom, and you could lose your life.”

While the above statement holds truth, The Modern Survival Retreat offers little to combat the situation. I expected detailed advice on retreat location, construction, concealment, stockpiling, weapon choice and defensive techniques – unfortunately the book offers little usable advice in those areas.

I liked that the book wasn’t written from a tin-foil hat perspective. As Benson points out that you’re more likely to have a run in with the EPA, school board or local zoning commission than U.N. troops or black helicopters. These are the organization that can and will come against you taking away your freedom to do as you see fit.

There is elementary advice given for those wanting to drop from government view, but this is covered much better in other books dedicated to the subject.

The idea of anonymously owning a retreat with water well, 1,000-gallon propane storage, tractors, stacks of firewood, garden, domestic animals etc., that is off government radar is a pipe dream at best. I’m not saying it is impossible – but unlikely with limited resources.

As for defensive strategies when the government comes hardcore against you, I like the fact Benson is honest in his assessment that you’re screwed, with the only viable option being to run or surrender.

No matter how well-trained or equiped we are, if a government agency is hell-bent on taking your retreat, there is nothing you can do about.

Sure, you can put up a fight, possibly taking a few jack-boots down in the process but they’ll be replaced. Takeout a tank or APC and they’ll bring in two more. The best you can hope for is to escape to a new location before they ram your door.

As Benson points out no one will come to your rescue when you are surrounded and cut off by government forces – you will be on your own. Not only will you be on your own, you will be demonized.

Their public relations experts will put their own spin on things making you into the most dangerous, racist, skinhead, KKK, child molesting, drug dealing, survivalist (or prepper) who ever set foot in a bunker or compound.

What’s that you say. You’ve never been in a bunker or compound. Don’t worry as soon a their public relations experts release the story to the media your retreat – even if it is nothing more than a thin-walled travel trailer or plywood shack will be labeled as such.

While there are a few bits of information within the pages of The Modern Survival Retreat, I don’t think the average survivalist will find much of it of use in our present situation. I think Benson’s other book on retreats was much better and of more practical use to the survivor.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Doris Jones says:

    Your observation that it is “a pipe dream” that a person can stay off the government/authorities radar is right on. We live on top of a mountain and there is a lot of forest and rural areas around us. We constantly see the ATF type helicopters coming low over our areas and obviously searching as they fly back and forth. They tell us they are “looking for people growing pot out in the woods”. Maybe, but for sure they can see everything. Also, just on Google satellite maps everything shows up. No real place to hide unless it is underground or something. For sure an operational self-sustaining farm will be known.

    What WOULD work is if everyone who believed in our country, in our constitution and in freedom would stand together and make sure our votes counted and really meant business–something good could come out of it, but it appears people are too frightened, too overwhelmed, too negative and too many feel helpless to stop anything. We DO live in a democratically run Republic and if the “majority” doesn’t care–well, whatever happens, the “will of the people” gets done. Even when the results are harmful. Even when the will of the people is to set back, do nothing and let the politicians and those not elected do as they please—America will get the government it deserves.

    If those of us who still believe in freedom and the constitution are actually in the minority now, we need to be honest and face the truth. Whining if the majority DOES rule will not help. We must find ways to live as freely as we can and make our lives count. A lot of Americans have abdicated away their rights. Unfortunate for the rest of us, but again “the majority rules” if it is just by sitting back and permitting it to happen.

  2. Winomega says:

    I wonder if this sort of thing only applies to proper survival retreats, or if environmentalist ranches would be under fire as well. There are many lifestyles that are parallel.

  3. JP in MT says:

    This is one of those books I first picked up when I went from “survival curious” to a prepper. Although I have not gotten the property yet, we have done 90% of what we can do here. Benson has written a number of books that have provided me with quality information. Along with some guy named Creekmore.

  4. That is why your retreat should have plenty of man traps. So while you retreat the fighting goes on. There are only so many as you call it jack boots. SO hit Hard Hit fast collect weapons and retreat. Just like our fore fathers did.

  5. oh and maybe not Nato but surly DHD.

  6. As Waco and Ruby Ridge show, the federal government can and will employ overwhelming lethal force. Often for dubious reasons. Even in the 19th century the Feds could employ (and often did) employ troops in overwhelming force. Again often for dubious reasons. Yet even with the small poorly equiped 19th century military, if the government chose to act, it was irresistable. Against the 21st Century government, there is no fighting back. You submit or you die. Remember that in 1985 there was a Black Seperatist group called ‘Move’, if memory serves. The mayor of Philidelphia had an incindiary device dropped by a police helicoptor. A whole city block was burned out and a dozen killed including 5 children. The reason I bring this up is; Like Waco there was no price paid for government sanctioned murder. You cannot meet force with force. The only solution is to be unnoticed. By the way, the reason the the Confederates were able to resist was the fact that in 1860 1/2 of the militia and their weapons went over to the South.

    • That was Willie Williams and I think he was the Phillie police commissioner. After that stint, Los Angeles brought him in to replace Darryl Gates when he retired as LAPD police chief. Williams was asked to resign a few years later when he repeatedly failed to pass California’s basic Police Officer’s Standardization of Training (POST) certification.

  7. By the way. If you think I’m wrong, check out the links. Cop shoots double amputee in wheelchair.
    Humane Officer shoots kittens in back yard in front of crying children.
    Forget the kittens. He discharged a firearm in a back yard containing children. Try that as a civilian.

    NO CHARGES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. axelsteve says:

    I think that an effective way to resist the tyrany that we have today is to stay under the radar.

  9. grand wazooski says:

    I had this book and I, too, was not impressed….in fact I have been routinely disappointed with Ragnar’s offerings. Always seemed to promise more than he delivered. Especially with his ‘Action Encyclopedias’. He has a new one out now called ” Survival End Game”….as usual the cover blurb speaks a great read but I am reluctant to make the purchase.

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