Introduction: Their World Ended
When people talk about major disasters a number of names are used, but a common theme that is referenced is "the end of the world". They don't (usually) mean that everything will literally end. But they do recognize that the way of life they currently enjoy may end.
If you study history you will quickly come to discover that societal collapse is relatively common throughout history. Invasions, plagues, famines, assassinations, coups, ethic cleansings, bank failures, currency failures, and more, have consistently disrupted the lives of untold millions throughout world history. Want a visual example? Look at this timelapse of European history (the date counter is off by a couple decades):
In modern times we have seen a number of societies undergo radical failures, changes, and re-orderings. For many, perhaps most, people living in those countries, their world ended during that process. They lost money, social position, job, home, friends and perhaps family to violence, or suffered other life changing events.
When people speculate about the events that could face Americans, they often speculate based on what they have seen in Hollywood films. Thus, people talk about "Mad Max", "Red Dawn" or "Contagion" scenarios. This is probably because most people are more conversant in feature films than world history (even recent history). I would argue that a much more helpful way to understand what happens in a collapse is to read first-hand accounts from people who actually experienced societal upheaval. To some degree, an account from the Plague and Great Fire of London will be of value - after all, the main problems are going to be the way people respond to and handle the crisis. But there are also more modern accounts. Even just the last couple decades offer rich examples.
We have collected several accounts. We hope that you will find them educational and encouraging. Now, a word of warning about first-hand accounts - they may be a rich source or intelligence, but they may also contain embellishments or fabrications. Read with discernment.
Argentina, 2005 - This 30 page documents is a must read.
Iraq, 2003 - From the persective of a soldier in Baghdad - specifically regarding the short-lived gun control and it's effect on crime.
Iraq, 1990 - An Iraqi talks about Iraq before and after GW1
LA Race Riots, 1992- A Screenwriter tells (humorously and well) his story
LA Race Riots, 1992 - Another account of the riots (take this story with a grain of salt)
LA Race Riots, 1992 - A news reporter discusses his observations
Katrina, 2005 - ex-Soldier live-blogs the strorm, followed by the breakdown (click "next day" to progress through the posts) .