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Bunker

Building for the End Times

A thought-provoking, chilling, and eerily prescient look at “prepper” communities around the world that are building bunkers against a possible apocalypse.

Currently, 3.7 million Americans call themselves preppers. Millions more prep without knowing it. Bradley Garrett, who began writing this book years before the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, argues that prepping is a rational response to global, social, and political systems that are failing to produce credible narratives of continued stability. Left with a sense of foreboding fueled by disease outbreaks, increasing government dysfunctionality, eroding critical infrastructure, nuclear brinksmanship, and an accelerating climate crisis, people all over the world are responding predictably—by hunkering down.

For this book, Garrett traveled across four continents to meet those who are constructing panic rooms, building underground backyard survival chambers, stockpiling supplies, preparing go bags, hiding inflatable rafts, rigging mobile “bugout” vehicles, and burrowing deep into the earth. He has returned with a brilliant, original and never less than deeply disturbing story from the frontlines of the way we live now: an illuminating reflection on our age of disquiet and dread that brings our times into new and sharper focus.

The “bunker,” Garrett shows, is all around us: in malls, airports, gated communities, the vehicles we drive. Most of all, he reveals, it’s in our minds.

Photograph by University of Sydney

Bradley Garrett is an American-born social and cultural geographer and expert on exploration, urban politics, and subterranean space. He holds a PhD from the University of London and has published over fifty academic journal articles and book chapters. His work, which often has him entering lost, forgotten, or off-limits places, has been featured on the History Channel and in The Atlantic and GQ. He has previously authored several critically acclaimed books on urban exploration.

"Bunker is an extraordinary achievement; a big-thinking, deep-diving, page-turning study of fear, privilege, and apocalypse told through the space of the bunker. Garrett has written a gripping, grim, witty work of geography and ethnography, which he completed—with eerie timeliness—in the first weeks of the COVID pandemic. A book about prepping and prognostication, then, which had already foretold its own future."
—Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland: A Deep Time Journey

“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… [features] a thrilling, chilling coda.”
The Guardian  

“The dark charisma of the bunker is probably what will attract readers to this book, but the energetic and gregarious Garrett keeps the story focused on people rather than buildings….Fortunately, [he] 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…A necessary read.”
Literary Review (UK)

“A good book…recommended…One of Bunker’s strengths is the amount of travel, immersion, and analysis…the book spans four continents: North America, Australia, Europe, and Asia, and it reads like a Who’s Who of the prepping universe.”  
The Prepared

“Like an indefatigable archaeologist of the present, Bradley Garrett explores the dark spaces of our collective imagination, illuminating our spaces of survival, and the people who dream of inhabiting them, with a mordantly humorous—sometimes sympathetic—eye, and ample doses of philosophical insight. From Tennessee to Tasmania, it’s a wild ride.”
—Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic and Survival City: Adventures among the Ruins of Atomic America

“A beguiling exploration of the architecture of catastrophe. Garrett is a fine companion for this exploration through apocalyptic anxieties, from survivalists in the southwestern U.S. obsessively preparing their hardened retreats to Silicon Valley tech-bros buying their way into immortality. Bunker is compellingly written and endlessly fascinating.”
 —Lewis Dartnell, author of The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Civilization in the Aftermath of a Cataclysm

“Bradley Garrett’s fine book is about way more than bunkers and boltholes. It’s a look inside some of the world’s weirdest subcultures and a gracefully written, profound meditation on the sacred strangeness of the human project.”
—James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency and the World Made by Hand novels

“Fascinating, amusing, crazy, chilling, and surreally topical for what the world is going through now. You’ve got to read this book!”
—Douglas Preston, author of The Lost City of the Monkey God

“Reading Bunker, I found myself wondering exactly why it was that I’d rather die than live in an end-times world like this.   Have I lost my devotion to the art of the long view?   Or my sense of adventure?.... No matter where you come down on the apocalypse, this book will stimulate your thinking, as it did mine.  Luck of the publishing gods that it is, unfortunately, so timely.” 
—Joel Garreau, author of Radical Evolution and Edge City 

"Bradley Garrett's Bunker offers a wry travelogue portraying a world we hope never arrives.  Its Hunter S. Thompson-style journey brings us right up to the edge of the Apocalypse. With a penetrating gaze and colorful detail, Garrett tours the Star Wars bar-like world of Doomsday preppers, grifters, and conspiracy theorists who are readying themselves to survive the end of the world. Through it all, you’re left to wonder: What if they’re right?"
—Garrett M. Graff, contributing editor at Wired and author of the national bestseller Raven Rock

“A page-turner…Garrett suggests that bunkerization is ‘the logical endpoint of the atomization of social life,’ and once you’ve read Bunker it’s hard to disagree with him.”
—Rowland Atkinson and Sarah Blandy, authors of Domestic Fortress