Over the years, I've built myself a nice collection of books within survival and prepping. My little library spans from books on food storage and edible plants, to martial arts and how to survive in some of the world's toughest environments.
One of my all time favorite books is written by John L. Wiseman. He spent 26 years as a professional soldier in the Special Air Services (SAS), ending up being their survival instructor. If you are looking for a survival mentor, this guy is someone worth listening to.
For those of you that aren't familiar with SAS, this is a elite division of the British army, carrying out arduous operations worldwide. From Arctic ice, to tropical rain forest, desert, and open oceans. These guys go all over the place, and they have a strong focus on training and being prepared.
I can't remember exactly when and where I got this book, it's been out for a few years, and as an avid reader I buy books in bulk — all the time. I did a quick search, and it seems that the best and cheapest option in The US is at Amazon.
Like the author puts it himself:
After serving throughout the world, I became the survival instructor to the SAS and it was my job to ensure that each and every member of the Regiment could apply these skills. Tested in training and operations, they form the basis of this book.
The need for survival training has never been greater. Not only are we indulging in more exotic holidays, challenging expeditions and foreign business ventures, but the last 12 twelve years have been particularly unstable. The Berlin wall came down in 1989, followed by the Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan. These were all overshadowed by the events of 11th September 2001. This event affected everyone, and our lives will never be the same again.
So you may think that this is only for military personnel or people working in active military zones, but he goes on explaining:
It's crucial that we are prepared for any eventuality, and survival training is the best insurance policy you can take out. Just by following the basic techniques and knowing what to do in an emergency will make the world a safer place.
Military vs. civilian survival training — it's not that different
All though the two are slightly different. In general, the problems you will face during survival is the same for soldiers and civilians at a basic survival level. We all need food, shelter, and a strong mind — soldiers and civilians alike.
One difference, which is also acknowledged in the book, is that the solutions to some survival problems might be a different for the two. In some situations, a soldier will need to hide his presence, while a civilian needs to attract attention to make the rescue operation efficient.
Use the help mother earth gives you
The book is divided into a basic section, a survival 101 if you will. This section, labeled “Essentials” goes into the mindset of survival and the most important part of survival: the will to live.
This means to never give in; there is nothing on earth we can't deal with, and there is no place on earth where humans can't survive. Survival boils down to knowledge, experience and preparedness. People live in every corner of the planet, in the most hostile environments.
Each environment, even jungles, arctic Tundra or swamps will offer some pillowing or support — if you know how to take advantage of it.
This is the section where you'll find information on:
- Research, planning, equipment and how to prepare for the unexpected
- Building your survival kit
- Putting together a survival pouch
- How to face disaster
- Finding water, condensation, water from plant and water from animals
Surviving open water, arctic tundra and scorching deserts
The rest of the book is loosely divided into geographic regions. You have sections on:
- Climate and terrain
- Camp craft
- Reading the signs
- On the move
- Survival at the sea
But they will deal with different climates and areas independently. Building shelter or shade in the desert is different than building shelter from a blizzard. Likewise, edible plants in the jungle are different from the ones you find subtropical deserts.
A must have for anyone — even in urban areas
My first impression of the book, and the very reason I picked it up, was for outdoor survival. We, my wife and I, were doing a trip in central Africa to see the mountain gorillas in Rwanda/Congo. The trip was organized through a tour operator, and it wasn't like we were starving in the African jungle, but I still like to be prepared.
Nothing happened on that trip. We got some nice photos, and my wife got to see Africa for the first time (I've previously worked in Central/East Africa) — a great trip.
I did get to read the book on the flight though!
After skimming through the book (it isn't that kind of book you sit down and read page by page) it struck me that this book isn't just about building shelter or edible plants. This is a must-have in any library, for urban survivalists or people who have never even thought about how to survive anything.
You'll learn about the mindset, being prepared, how to deal with disasters and how to stay calm in unexpected and dangerous situations.
Also, as we travel more abroad, and to more exotic locations, it's a great travel companion. The book is wrapped in a plastic film cover, so it can take the elements.
Currently, you get the best price at Amazon. I just checked, and it seems to be about half the retail price in the other book stores. That amount of information, for such a low price, is the best money you can invest into being prepared.
Article photo via Dailymail