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Book Review: Personal Security

​Personal Security: Preparing for the Unexpected in an Era of Crime and Terrorism. By Richard Bradford. CreateSpace;; 182 pages, $9.99.

Now more than ever, the reach of terrorist attacks highlights the importance of personal readiness. Soberly, Personal Security: Preparing for the Unexpected in an Era of Crime and Terrorism asserts that a typical individual’s chances of evading or countering a violent attack are poor. That’s because people are often unsuspecting, unprepared, and unfamiliar with their security environment. 

With a primary focus on threat avoidance, this book explains how to identify and manage personal security risks where they often appear—in transit. Author Richard Bradford provides principles that can help individuals understand and adjust to their security environment. Covering topics such as travel route analysis, observation skills, situational awareness, surveillance detection, and vehicle driving, clear and actionable guidance is provided to readers on how to identify threats, understand what they mean, and respond before the threat can materialize. To help contextualize the threat, Bradford expertly explains the stages of a violent attack from preparation to execution, taking the reader into the mind of a terrorist.

At its core, the book seeks to reduce complacency and harness the power of habit in embedding effective risk-avoidance behavior through practice and repetition. Bradford convincingly argues that the power of habitual, pre-incident analysis is more potent than counterattack measures such as martial arts and weapons, noting that these measures require skills that inherently deteriorate during a high-stress, low-familiarity situation. Avoidance skills are easier to learn and apply—and more likely to enable safety when compared with countering techniques.

While the book provides crucial advice for those susceptible to modern terrorism, it also provides an expert reference for practitioners who must translate security theory into meaningful practice in the wider community. Candid and authoritative, Personal Security is a valuable guide for security professionals seeking to engender the serious use of proven personal security treatments by those at risk of violence.

Reviewer: Dan Byles is a former Australian Army Officer who served in the Middle East and Afghanistan. He leads security, business continuity, and crisis management programs in the higher education, business, and government sectors. Byles is a member of the ASIS Cultural Properties Council and the Global Terrorism, Political Instability, and Transnational Crime Council.