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Best Survival Books and Manuals: Time to Update Your Library

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October 03, 2012
Best Survival Books and Manuals: Time to Update Your Library - 5

I would certainly hope that every outdoor enthusiast has a few books on survival skills.

Yes, you may have every episode of your favorite survival show on DVD, and you might even have some kind of survival app on your fancy phone. But to me, these just don’t take the place of a real paper book.

So what’s in my library?

Wilderness Survival Books

Since wilderness survival skills are the most likely skill set that an outdoorsman will employ, let’s start our library there. It’s hard to go wrong with classics Like Bradford Angier’s “How To Stay Alive In The Woods”, Larry Dean Olsen’s “Outdoor Survival Skills”, John and Geri McPhersen’s “Wilderness Living And survival Skills”, and Mors Kochanski’s “Bushcraft”. These books, many of which are decades old, have stood the test of time and always provide me with a great reading list to give to wilderness neophytes.

And if you are looking for something with a more contemporary look and feel, then check out “The Survival Handbook” by Colin Towell and “98.6 Degrees” by Cody Lundin. The “handbook” is a very complete hard cover book dealing with a great many survival skills and instructions on how to survive in different environments. Lundin’s “98.6” gives you a novel view of the physical and psychological elements in a survival scenario, and it also provides you with a foolproof recipe for a wilderness survival kit. 

Urban Survival Books

There are so many ways to go in the vague field of urban survival, so I’ll just list my top pick. “When All Hell Breaks Loose” by Cody Lundin has the most diverse assortment of modern survival skills that you’ll find in just one book. It deals with disaster survival mostly, but covers shelter, water, fire, food, first aid, communications and a host of other topics. 

If the whole disaster and mayhem subject gets too heavy, there’s a horribly comedic book which I like as an urban survival palate cleanser. UFC fighter Forest Griffin, along with his author friend Eric Krauss have put together the most foul-mouthed and irreverent book I have ever read. It’s called “Be Ready When The Sh*t Goes Down”. This self-proclaimed survival guide to the apocalypse is packed full of disturbing concepts, and humorous yet filthy stories. If you have ever been offended by ANYTHING, then this book is not for you. But if you would like to learn how to start alienating your friends and family now, so they don’t come looking for your help after the end of the world, then this might just be the book for you. 

Wild Plant Books
You need a Peterson’s “A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants” as the minimum requirement for a survival library. Other books are good, but Peterson’s book is small enough and thorough enough to bug out with you and feed you for years (if the edibles are available, that is). Owning a few tree guides and wildflower guides will help out immensely, if you cannot ID that pesky weed or shrub you keep running into. Audubon makes some nice full color photo ID books, while Newcomb’s and Peterson’s stick to the classic drawing and painting format. So many skills come down to material identification, you really don’t want to skip over the tree and plant section in your home library.

Homesteader Books
We’ll wrap up our survival library with some good, clean homesteader skills. “Square Foot Gardening,” “The Chicken Tractor”, “Foxfire” series, Reader’s Digest “Back To Basics” and so many other books could provide you with an interesting read and give you the skills to better take care of yourself and your family in the event of money troubles, supply chain problems or a full scale Ragnarok (Viking Armageddon).

Please let us know what’s in your survival library, and how these books have helped you to be better prepared or find more enjoyment in the great outdoors.

Comments (5)

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from Tioughnioga 8/7/2013 at 01:51pm

When I was first starting out, I learned a ton from Bradford Angier. He has a bunch of other books, too, including The Master Backwoodsman and Skills for Taming the Wilds. His wife Vena also wrote a book about their life in the bush on the Peace River in BC. Very informative (and I daresay she's a little easier to read than windy old Brad).

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from fuglybugger 10/20/2012 at 02:24pm

The SAS handbook has always been good to me.

Sasquatch Anarchist Survival handbooks are hard to find, though. Out of print for a while. I used to have a recipe for Sasquatch Jerky... not much used now though, with the PETA lawsuits and public outrage with rare furs back in the 90's.

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from TJ Enloe-Hollin... 10/19/2012 at 08:55pm

I have "The Art of Shen Ku" by Zeek. Picked it up on a lark and was surprised by how much good info on survival it contains. Although it is a bit...odd.
It has techniques for surviving on a boat as well as on land, self defense, accupressure, herbal remedies, etc., etc.

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from Johnnie 10/3/2012 at 04:56pm

I have Tom Brown,Jr.'s survival books. Also have Peterson’s “A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants” and the Foxfire series plus a few others.
These two books, Tom Brown and Foxfire, contain old lore. Tom Brown learned survival skills from his friend's grandfather who was a Apache Scout who traveled North and South America using his Apache survival skills to stay alive. The Foxfire books are about Appalachian life that covers everything about old time living - log cabin building, soap making, long rifle and flintlock making, hide tanning, and everything else under the sun. I highly recommend the Foxfire books.
These books have enlightened me on survival, how things and life use to be and how life can be now.

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from officerdom1987 10/3/2012 at 03:02pm

I am on my second time reading through HAWKES GREEN BERET SURVIVAL MANUAL by Myke Hawke. He is also on Discovery Channel. This book not only covers everything from staying alive psychologically but how-to-do book for anything to stay alive. It also covers your best survivor tactics in different terrains, including urban warfare which is important these days. It is very well written and also not complicated and buries you in intricate instructions that go in one ear and out the other.

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Write a Comment Your comment (200 characters or less):

from officerdom1987 10/3/2012 at 03:02pm

I am on my second time reading through HAWKES GREEN BERET SURVIVAL MANUAL by Myke Hawke. He is also on Discovery Channel. This book not only covers everything from staying alive psychologically but how-to-do book for anything to stay alive. It also covers your best survivor tactics in different terrains, including urban warfare which is important these days. It is very well written and also not complicated and buries you in intricate instructions that go in one ear and out the other.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Johnnie 10/3/2012 at 04:56pm

I have Tom Brown,Jr.'s survival books. Also have Peterson’s “A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants” and the Foxfire series plus a few others.
These two books, Tom Brown and Foxfire, contain old lore. Tom Brown learned survival skills from his friend's grandfather who was a Apache Scout who traveled North and South America using his Apache survival skills to stay alive. The Foxfire books are about Appalachian life that covers everything about old time living - log cabin building, soap making, long rifle and flintlock making, hide tanning, and everything else under the sun. I highly recommend the Foxfire books.
These books have enlightened me on survival, how things and life use to be and how life can be now.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from TJ Enloe-Hollin... 10/19/2012 at 08:55pm

I have "The Art of Shen Ku" by Zeek. Picked it up on a lark and was surprised by how much good info on survival it contains. Although it is a bit...odd.
It has techniques for surviving on a boat as well as on land, self defense, accupressure, herbal remedies, etc., etc.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from fuglybugger 10/20/2012 at 02:24pm

The SAS handbook has always been good to me.

Sasquatch Anarchist Survival handbooks are hard to find, though. Out of print for a while. I used to have a recipe for Sasquatch Jerky... not much used now though, with the PETA lawsuits and public outrage with rare furs back in the 90's.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tioughnioga 8/7/2013 at 01:51pm

When I was first starting out, I learned a ton from Bradford Angier. He has a bunch of other books, too, including The Master Backwoodsman and Skills for Taming the Wilds. His wife Vena also wrote a book about their life in the bush on the Peace River in BC. Very informative (and I daresay she's a little easier to read than windy old Brad).

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Write a Comment Your comment (200 characters or less):

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