Amazon.com does this thing where it recommends books to you based on what you've bought from them in the past, which seems reasonable enough. My sister informs me that you can tell it to stop showing specific categories, but I rather enjoy the schizoid variety it displays to me, everything from erotic romance to military history to security engineering to sf/f.
I picked up Left of Bang: How the Marine Corps' Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life
by Patrick Van Horne and Jason A. Riley partly because Amazon has my number, and partly because it's about developing situational awareness and therefore fell under Writing Research for Revenant Gun
. In fact, I wish I'd known about this book earlier. But it's not too late for it to be useful to me, as one of the major characters in Revenant Gun
supposedly has very good situational awareness.
The premise behind Left of Bang
is that it's better to prevent bad situations before they happen than to react to them after they have. If you visualize the timeline running from left (before) to right (after), the "bang" is the event and "left of bang" is prevention before the event has a chance to happen. This material was developed by US Marines, so it's written from that point of view, including the left-is-past-right-is-future orientation of the American/English writing system. However, while a lot of examples are drawn from recent American experiences in the Middle East, there are also examples drawn from civilian incidents.
The book discusses the importance of quickly establishing baselines in the following domains: kinesics (body language), biometric cues, proxemics, geographics (patterns of motion within an area), iconography, and atmospherics. Once a baseline has been established, clusters (generally, three signs) of anomalous signs can be identified as a cue toward action. Action is context-dependent. For a Marine, it might be Kill, Capture, or Contact; for a civilian in most circumstances, they recommend something like Run, Hide, or Fight.
I note in passing that my situational awareness is pretty terrible but I probably look suspicious for my habit of periodically checking rooftops (there is a story behind this) and checking my six.
Beyond obvious real-life applications, other writers who have characters with situational awareness may find this of interest. I found it well-written and well-organized, and am glad I picked it up. (daidoji_gisei
, based on your interests, I think you will find this useful, and recommend it to you in particular.)
More relevantly to my writing project, I am grateful that I got some things right by instinct. That being said, it's good to have some confirmation and to have more specific information to work from. (The character in question is a former assassin, among other things.)
There's a bibliography with some interesting-looking articles cited; I figure I'll hit that up when I have an internet connection. (I'm typing up this book report in a text file offline while sitting in Little Wars--I got some writing done earlier.)
Thank you to the generous person who donated this book.