Book Review: Left of Bang by Jason A. Riley and Patrick Van Horne

Several years ago I read Left of Bang: How the Marine Corps’ Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life.  The authors detail the Combat Hunter program approach to identifying threats in the environment.  The idea behind the term “left of bang” is that this material focuses on what happens before the “bang.”  The desired result is the interception, or at least prior recognition, of a threat before the situation deteriorates to active violence.

Upon reading the book you may come to the realization that much of this is simply good situational awareness as practiced by any serious student of self-defense.  Some of it may even be pure common sense.  However, even if you innately know something is not right, I think the details given in this book as to what makes something not right is very beneficial.

Ultimately, the idea of this Combat Hunter curriculum is to set a “baseline” in any environment, and then spot the “anomalies.”  This is what we generally do when we practice good situational awareness, even if we don’t spell it out as such.  The baseline is what is normal in the environment.  An anomaly is something that stands out.  Common sense so far.  However, the details of different categories in behavior that represent an anomaly are really beneficial here.

When reading the book I found myself basically reverse-engineering examples that, at first sight, would clearly appear to be anomaly behavior.  The authors detail the behaviors that make the anomaly stand out in a given environment.  Different behavior indicators are covered in depth, such as kinesics, biometric cues, and proxemics.  Once you read the entailed examples you say to yourself “oh yeah, I recognize that as an anomaly.”  However, having the scientific details of what you may simply recognize as being off makes it much more understandable.

Left of Bang might appear as somewhat burdensome reading for those who are simply looking for the quick bullet points, but I really think this book is worth a read it you want to improve your situational awareness and threat recognition.

Find it on Amazon Here.

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