Lights out ted koppel summary

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lights out ted koppel summary

Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath by Ted Koppel

In this tour de force of investigative reporting, Ted Koppel reveals that a major cyberattack on America’s power grid is not only possible but likely, that it would be devastating, and that the United States is shockingly unprepared.
Imagine a blackout lasting not days, but weeks or months. Tens of millions of people over several states are affected. For those without access to a generator, there is no running water, no sewage, no refrigeration or light. Food and medical supplies are dwindling. Devices we rely on have gone dark. Banks no longer function, looting is widespread, and law and order are being tested as never before. 

It isn’t just a scenario. A well-designed attack on just one of the nation’s three electric power grids could cripple much of our infrastructure—and in the age of cyberwarfare, a laptop has become the only necessary weapon. Several nations hostile to the United States could launch such an assault at any time. In fact, as a former chief scientist of the NSA reveals, China and Russia have already penetrated the grid. And a cybersecurity advisor to President Obama believes that independent actors—from “hacktivists” to terrorists—have the capability as well. “It’s not a question of if,” says Centcom Commander General Lloyd Austin, “it’s a question of when.” 

And yet, as Koppel makes clear, the federal government, while well prepared for natural disasters, has no plan for the aftermath of an attack on the power grid.  The current Secretary of Homeland Security suggests keeping a battery-powered radio.

In the absence of a government plan, some individuals and communities have taken matters into their own hands. Among the nation’s estimated three million “preppers,” we meet one whose doomsday retreat includes a newly excavated three-acre lake, stocked with fish, and a Wyoming homesteader so self-sufficient that he crafted the thousands of adobe bricks in his house by hand. We also see the unrivaled disaster preparedness of the Mormon church, with its enormous storehouses, high-tech dairies, orchards, and proprietary trucking company – the fruits of a long tradition of anticipating the worst. But how, Koppel asks, will ordinary civilians survive?

With urgency and authority, one of our most renowned journalists examines a threat unique to our time and evaluates potential ways to prepare for a catastrophe that is all but inevitable.
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Published 04.12.2018

A Threat Unlike Any Other America Has Ever Faced - Ted Koppel

Lights Out

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Look Inside. Oct 27, Minutes Buy. Oct 18, ISBN Oct 27, ISBN Oct 27, Minutes. Imagine a blackout lasting not days, but weeks or months.

The problem is substance. There is not much of it. Still worse, what little it has is misleading and ill-informed. In my view, Lights Out! The biggest and most obvious problem is that the book seems to assume that the conventional power grid is the only possible way of supplying electricity in a modern society. The supply of electricity — not the power grid — is what tethers society to modern times. Koppel seems oblivious to the fact that the electric grid is merely one way of providing electricity.

A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath

The possibility that terrorists or a hostile foreign state could take down the American power grid either by a cyberattack or by an electromagnetic pulse attack is one of those haunting possibilities that keep strategic planners from sleeping peacefully at night. The combination of a sober establishment journalist looking into the heart of a national nightmare, warning us that our worst fears are better grounded than we think and taking us to visit people who are preparing their shelters against the prospect of a catastrophe that destroys modern civilization should be gripping to read. Part of the problem is technique. Koppel wants to tell this story as a journalist rather than as an analyst. The concept is admirable, the execution something else. When, for example, Koppel travels to Cody, Wyo.



  1. Millie D. says:

    LIGHTS OUT by Ted Koppel | Kirkus Reviews

  2. Argentina Z. says:

    Thank you!

  3. Caifas N. says:


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