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'Survivalist' murder suspect goes to ground in huge earthen 'bug out' bunker

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Survivalist blogs are popular, and two years ago one of the leaders of the movement, journalism school graduate Jim Rawles, penned “Patriot: Surviving the Coming Collapse,” which broke into the New York Times bestseller list. The idea of building secret and well-fortified rural retreats is one espoused by Mr. Rawles and other survivalism advocdates.

Hot on the trend, TV is currently packed with reality-based survival shows, including “Doomsday Preppers,” a National Geographic show about outwardly regular Americans who are stocking up on guns and powdered milk. Bushcrafting, or barebones survivalism centered on knife-work, is a vibrant US subculture, epitomized by Arizona survival teacher Cody Lundin, known for wearing a Swedish Mora knife in a sheath that he wears around his neck.

Survivalists have pegged the US Northwest, including Idaho and Washington, as probably the best place to survive an apocalypse.

While doomsaying has been around since before Biblical times, many believe America is in its third wave of survivalism, an era unique for its focus on communal survival and embrace of environmentalism. Survivalism also peaked in the early 1980s amid a US-Russian arms race and in the 1990s, ahead of concerns about Y2K, which spawned a popular book, “The Hippy Survival Guide to Y2K.”

Interest in the survivalist movement “is experiencing its largest growth since the late 1970s,” Rawles told the New York Times several years ago. Unlike the caricature of someone in camoflauge gear carrying an AK-47, today’s survivalists are a diverse lot, experts say.

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