Sunday, January 1, 2012

My Top Twenty Favorite Survival Books

Winter is a good time to do some reading and if you are interested in expanding your knowledge of survival and surviving here's a list of some of my favorite books.  These are books that I go back to time and time again. They are my references for much of what I teach in my seminars.  Some are of the "been there, done that" variety.  Some are of the "here's what you need to be able to do in a survival situation" genre and others are scientific studies of the psychology and physiology of humans in extreme conditions - survival conditions.

In previous times the survival literature was based on the anecdotal accounts of those unfortunate souls who had been in a survival event and returned to tell about it.  "They survived therefore what they did must be correct!"  Not necessarily so!  Some people survived in spite of what they did!  Fortunately, scholars, many in the medical community, have in recent years studied why some people survive and yet others, under similar conditions die, and have written some very good books on the subject.  Read widely.  Compare the advice given.  Test the recommendations and find out what works for you.

Survival Psychology - John Leach
Deep Survival - Laurence Gonzales 
Everyday Survival - Laurence Gonzales
Life at the Extremes - Frances Ashcroft
Surviving Extremes - Kenneth Kamler
The Survivors Club - Ben Sherwood
Alone - Richard Logan
Last Breath - Peter Stark
The Unthinkable - Amanda Ripley
102 Minutes - Dwyer & Flynn
The Essentials of Sea Survival - Golden & Tipton
Desert Survival Skills - David Alloway
Out of Captivity - Gonsalves, Stansell & Howes
Touching the Void - Joe Simpson
Survive - Peter Deleo
Wilderness Medicine 6th Edition - Paul Auerbach et al
Endurance:Shackleton's Incredible Voyage  - Alfred Lansing
Northern Bushcraft - Mors Kochanski
Staying Found - June Flemming
Angels in the Wilderness - Amy Racina

Humbly, I might add my own book "Surviving a Wilderness Emergency" to the above list.

Notice there aren't any books on this list that are titled "The Complete Book of.........." because they never are!  Nor are there any books titled "The Encyclopedia of.............." because once again they never are!  The other titles that are noticeably missing are books based on military survival training, both the American and the British military.  Skills taught to the military, regardless of nationality, do not necessarily cross over into the civilian world.  I measure the value of a potential survival reference book by whether or not the book recommends the use of space blankets, a bow and drill for fire starting, solar stills and living-off-the-land!  If they do I conclude that the author has not done his homework!  Remember, when reading, there's a big difference between the skills needed to survive an inconvenient night out and bush craft skills needed to live in the back-country for prolonged periods of time.  Granted there is some cross-over but more typically you need to know how to survive a night or two out until you are found.

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