90 second book review: Left of Bang

And another one bites the dust (from the “to read” pile).  Admittedly this was a rather short (201 pages) book but I am making progress.  If I can keep up at this pace I will feel OK about setting foot in Half Price Books again by mid-July.
The most recent book to make the trip from the pile to the shelf is titled “Left of Bang: How the Marine Corps Combat Hunter Program can save your life” by Patrick Van Horne and Jason A. Riley.  This was recommended to me by some of the folks I train in Krav Maga with and based on their recommendation and description I picked up a copy a few weeks ago.
The book details a program that has been developed over the past decade or so for the Marine Corp to help them identify threats.  Specifically, the program was developed to help Marines get “left of bang”, i.e. make better observations and decisions before shots are fired.  The value of this for non-Marines is pretty obvious: although most of us don’t live in combat zones (residents of the failed state of Detroit excepted), having a vocabulary and a system that runs in the background and lets you identify issues before they arise is valuable.
The vocabulary they give you consists of 6 “domains” of observable behavior.  Using assumptions, prior experience and observations you create a baseline, or an expectations of how people should behave in the 6 domains.  You then monitor for anomalies from that baseline.  Lastly you take action when you see at least three anomalous indicators, although sometimes it can take just one if it’s obviously hostile.  An interesting point about taking action: they suggest that you have a predefined action plan (for Marines: kill, capture, contact…for civilians: run, hide, fight) as a way to avoid freezing or taking too long to make a decision.
For anyone interested in going beyond the Cooper color codes of situational awareness, the system laid out in Left of Bang answers the “how” question – how do you systematically asses your environment.  It is a system developed for Marines in combat, so some of it may not apply – but the overall system and thinking that went into it is useful to anyone who wants to be more situationally aware and head off problems before they start.
In case you are interested, here’s the main site for the authors’ company and here is a summary of the approach described in the book that they offer for free (PDF Link).






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