Ragnar Benson
Ragnar Benson is the pen name
Pen name
A pen name, nom de plume, or literary double, is a pseudonym adopted by an author. A pen name may be used to make the author's name more distinctive, to disguise his or her gender, to distance an author from some or all of his or her works, to protect the author from retribution for his or her...

 of a prolific survivalist author who specializes in preparedness topics, particularly survival retreats
Retreat (survivalism)
A retreat is a place of refuge for those in the survivalist subculture or movement. Retreats are also sometimes called Bug-Out Locations...

, hunting
Hunting is the practice of pursuing any living thing, usually wildlife, for food, recreation, or trade. In present-day use, the term refers to lawful hunting, as distinguished from poaching, which is the killing, trapping or capture of the hunted species contrary to applicable law...

, trapping, austere medicine, false identification, explosives, firearms, and improvised weapons. Many of his books were published by Loompanics Unlimited
Loompanics Unlimited was an American book seller and publisher specializing in nonfiction on generally unconventional or controversial topics, with a philosophy considered tending to a mixture of libertarian and left wing ideals, although Loompanics carried books expressing other political...

 (which went out of business in 2004) and by Paladin Press
Paladin Press
Paladin Press is a book publishing firm founded in 1970 by Peder Lund and Robert K. Brown.The company publishes non-fiction books and videos covering a wide range of specialty topics, including personal and financial freedom, survivalism and preparedness, firearms and shooting, various martial...

. Both Benson and Paladin Press are controversial, because actually formulating or constructing many of the explosives and weapons that he describes would be illegal in most jurisdictions. Some of his books have been banned ("challenged") from importation into Canada, by the Customs Canada censors at the Connaught Building
Connaught Building
The Connaught Building is a historic office building in Ottawa, Canada, owned by Public Works and Government Services Canada. It is located at 555 MacKenzie Street just south of the American Embassy...

. His book Ragnar's Guide to Home and Recreational Use of High Explosives was reportedly pulled from distribution in 1999.

Secretive Personal Life

Benson has revealed very few details of his background and personal life. His real name has not been revealed publicly. He was reportedly born in Indiana and was raised on a farm where dynamite was used for utilitarian purposes. As of 1999, he lived "...on nine acres in southern Idaho with his pet skunks and his wife and 100-plus guns of varying caliber." He was apparently the son of a German immigrant. (In his book Urban Survival he recounts some of his father's experiences growing up in Germany after World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...


Benson has apparently travelled extensively and has had no settled career. In the narrative of his book Bull's Eye: Crossbow, Benson mentions that he at one time worked as a mercenary
A mercenary, is a person who takes part in an armed conflict based on the promise of material compensation rather than having a direct interest in, or a legal obligation to, the conflict itself. A non-conscript professional member of a regular army is not considered to be a mercenary although he...

 in Africa. In a rare interview with Salon magazine, he mentioned that he "...learned about man traps while serving as an agricultural specialist in rural Southeast Asia " In the narrative of another book Homemade C4 - A Recipe for Survival Benson mentions that he had fired a M72 LAW
The M72 LAW is a portable one-shot 66 mm unguided anti-tank weapon, designed in the United States by Paul V. Choate, Charles B. Weeks, and Frank A. Spinale et al...

 rocket while at Fort Benning, Georgia, home of the US Army Infantry. (The M72 LAW
The M72 LAW is a portable one-shot 66 mm unguided anti-tank weapon, designed in the United States by Paul V. Choate, Charles B. Weeks, and Frank A. Spinale et al...

rocket was used by the US Army from 1963 - 1983.) In the same book, Benson continues to state that he participated in the Army's Tank Commander school, something reserved for a senior enlisted soldier (E-6, SSG). Benson has also intermittently worked as a private investigator for more than 25 years. As of 1998, he was 60 years old. His writing pace has slowed in recent years. In 2007, he authored the Foreword to James Ballou's book Long-Term Survival in the Coming Dark Age: Preparing to Live After Society Crumbles
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