Good Books

A Thought Provoking Topic

By Mike “Duke” Venturino

Back in the winter of 2015/2016, I was laid up with a serious enough health problem I couldn’t drive a vehicle, shoot a firearm or even pump the handle on a reloading press. So instead, I indulged my other passion—reading. My sister, a retired librarian, suggested I read some of the “apocalypse” or “end of civilization” novels. Surprised she had read such, I inquired as to why. She said, “They have a lot of mentions about guns with numbers I don’t even understand.”

That sounded good for my situation, so I started downloading them to my iPad. Many were drearily similar with plots featuring a former Navy SEAL, Army Delta Operator or Marine Recon fellow facing nearly insurmountable odds during the downfall of our American or even the entire world’s social structure. However, using their military expertise and weapons training they prevailed, often after saving a beautiful damsel in distress. Especially avoided by me were those books with zombie or vampire antagonists.

Buried in my pile, however, were some downright good stories. So far my favorite has been a trilogy by Franklin Horton labeled The Borrowed World series. His characters are realistic, and the situations are believable and the cataclysm precipitating their fall into dire straits is feasible. There are no zombies, vampires or damsels in distress, just ordinary family folk caught in the middle of a national disaster. A little later in this column, I’ll relate an attention-grabbing part of the story.



Book one, aptly titled The Borrowed World begins with a group of common people: employees of the Virginia Mental Health Agency who are in the capital of Richmond for a conference. The attack on the United States, the details of which I won’t give away here, erupts. One protagonist named Jim is a “prepper” so he has a “bug-out bag” with him. He immediately decides to head home to southwestern Virginia using his agency’s car. Driving to Richmond was a one-day trip, albeit of several hundred miles. It will not be that fast or easy going back.

Four of his co-workers, one man and three women decide to travel with Jim, who against his usual habit neglected to fuel up the car at the end of yesterday’s trip. So as soon as they clear Richmond’s urban area, Jim stops for gas at a convenience store. Of course, there is already a line at the pumps. The panic has started; the store is full of scared and frenzied folks buying up anything they can conceive of needing.

At the same time, Virginia State Police Troopers arrive informing everyone the President has declared a state of national emergency, and all fuel is now government property. Chaos ensues ending with a free-for-all gunfight. This is where the drama of The Borrowed World begins so I won’t give up details. I would like to state, however, that Jim is able to extract his people (minus one) because he is armed, despite the fact that his employer—the state of Virginia—forbids employees from having firearms at work or in state-owned vehicles.

The rest of the book and its sequel Ashes Of The Unspeakable detail Jim and friends as they begin the long walk home. Also covered are the happenings at Jim’s home with his wife and children, despite his well-thought out preparations. One hint is this: when the authorities can’t feed or supply prisoners in jails, what is the alternative? Here’s another point I found intensely interesting: what happens to two politically correct college students who refuse to even touch a firearm? Book three of Horton’s trilogy is Legion Of Despair. Its plot predominately concerns the same people after arriving home and coping with unforeseen problems.

My attention became completely riveted when, in Jim’s mental flashbacks, he thinks about visiting his grandfather in Mingo County, West Virginia. Besides the site of the world famous Hatfield/McCoy feud of the late 1800’s and the vicious Coal Mine Union Wars of the early 1900’s, it’s where I was born and raised. At one point, Jim remembers his grandfather being in the hospital in Mingo’s county seat of Williamson. I was born there and my lifetime residence, until leaving for Montana, was a few hundred yards away on the same street as the hospital.


For that reason and because I admired Mr. Horton’s take on things and the firearm details he used, in a first for me, I e-mailed a book author. He responded and informed me his grandfather indeed lived in Mingo County, and he had visited there several times. Also, as I had surmised from his writing, Mr. Horton confirmed he is a shooter and “gun-guy.” He is working on the 4th book of this series.

Aside from entertainment of his novels, he makes readers think. Could you face a severe emergency? It doesn’t have to be a nationwide attack. Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and floods can wreak enough temporary havoc to shut down civilization as we know it for large areas. In fact, in April 1977, the day I drove away from Williamson after a visit, it began to rain. By the next day, the town and surrounding areas were under water. My folks lived high so they were safe, but they were without water, food supplies, even electricity for an extended time. They had no preparations, and when government aid did arrive, it was slow and spottily effective as usual.

If you like to read or if you like to read fiction with correct firearms information in it, I highly recommend these books. Then, I recommend you sit back and think. Yvonne and I are.

The Borrowed World by Franklin Horton, ©2015, paperback, 6×9 inches, 252 pages,
CreateSpace Independent Publishing

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One thought on “Good Books

  1. Rick Andersen

    I took Duke’s advice and purchased all three books. Excellent reading. It gives a guy a lot to think about as well as how fragile our way of life is. Thanks Mike….


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