See Also: Survival DVDs, My Top Two Survival Books, Australian Field Guides and Nature Books, Books by Tom Brown, Jr., Permaculture, Self Sufficiency And Sustainable Living Books, and Books About Near-Death Experiences, Survival Courses Near Sydney and the Blue Mountains.
Many of the book links on this page currently go to Amazon (which is good for outside Australia). If you want to order any of the books from Australia (which is recommended if you live in Australia or New Zealand), I am gradually adding more links to Australian sources of the books. Also there are Australian links to some of the books on the other two book pages shown above.
Categories Found On This Survival Books Page
Wilderness Survival Books
Wilderness Living Books
Books for Survival in the Future Hard Times
Other Survival Books
Wilderness Survival Books
Wilderness Survival By Gregory J. Davenport. This is the book I recommend for basic wilderness survival skills (of the type discussed on this page), rather than wilderness living skills (such as you would want for a long-term stay in the wilderness). It's also nice that it's one of the few non-Australian survival books that doesn't have a plants chapter with a whole lot of plants that we don't have in the Australian wilderness.
With concise explanations (that is, he does not fill out the text much with stories and other non-essential information) and detailed illustrations, survival expert Gregory Davenport covers the five basic elements of survival - personal protection, signalling, finding food and water, travel, and health — providing the reader with complete information on how to stay calm and alive until rescue arrives.
Table of Contents
Introduction; Climates of the Globe; Weather; Gear; Survival and Medical Kits; Pre-departure Survival Plan; Three Steps to Wilderness Survival; Health; Personal Protection; Sustenance; Signalling; Travel and Negotiation; Improvising; Children and Survival; Index.
"A must-read for anyone who goes outdoors. Informative and captivating. It covers the principles of survival better than any book I have read..." — Captain Scott O'Grady, Survivor, Bosnia.
Click here to purchase from Australia (The Nile) $29.49 AUD
Tom Brown's Field Guide to Nature and Survival for Children, Tom Brown Jr. with Judy Brown. This is Tom Brown's field guide intended for older children, or (mainly) for parents to read and teach to their children. It contains the basics of some of Tom's other field guides (most notably "Wilderness Survival" and "Nature Observation and Tracking") so it can also be used by anyone who wants to learn the basics without having to purchase several guides.
Since Tom's books tend to be on the side of too much information rather than not enough, just the "basics" in his eyes actually makes up a huge amount of information. With 220 pages of small writing it's not exactly written for five year-olds. Which makes this book an extremely good (I think one of the best) all-round wilderness survival books to learn from, even for adults.
I would go as far as to say that this is the best all-round book to get if you are the type of person that won't find a purely technical book very interesting or inspiring. If you want to go into more depth with any of the topics covered, you can always do that but this book gives a really good grounding in all of the basics. I like Tom's philosophy and I find that it makes the book much more interesting than the purely technical books such as Davenport and the US Army Survival Manual. I love the chapter called "Society of Robots" where he writes about getting children out into the wilderness as the antidote to the boredom and dissillusionment that is such a massive part of modern life.
It's also nice that it's one of the few non-Australian survival books that doesn't have a plants chapter with a whole lot of plants that we don't have in the Australian wilderness.
Click here to purchase from Australia (The Nile) $16.99 AUD
Click here to read about more of Tom Brown's books
Collins Gem SAS Survival Guide, John 'Lofty' Wiseman. The great advantage of this guide is that it is very much a pocket survival guide. The book is tiny, 11.5 cm by 8 cm and 2.5 cm thick. For such a small book it has a huge amount of information in its 384 pages. That means the writing is very small. It is great to pack into places that you might not take a larger book. It is also quite cheap so there is no excuse not to have one of these if you are interested in survival information. The author John 'Lofty' Wiseman served in the SAS for 26 years so he knows his stuff. The plants section contains northern hemishpere plants (it's published in the United Kingdom).
Click here to purchase from Australia (The Nile) $11.99 AUD
Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival, Tom Brown Jr. This is the classic survival skills manual from one of the world's most famous wilderness survival instructors, Tom Brown Jr. He runs what is probably the world's largest and best known wilderness survival and living skills school in the USA, which is sometimes booked out for a couple of years ahead.
The book, like all of Tom's books, contains a lot of his philosophy, which I think makes the book much more interesting and valuable than the more purely technical books. Most of the plants are relevant to North America, though some of them are also found in Australia (many of them as introduced weeds).
Click here to purchase from Australia (The Nile) $18.99 AUD
Click here to read about more of Tom Brown's books
US Army Survival Manual: FM 21-76, Illustrated. Department of Defense, United States Army. This is the basic survival field manual used by the US Army for survival training. It contains a huge amount of useful information, written in a fairly mechanical style. It's a good solid survival book, one of those classic books that keeps getting reprinted every few years. The version I have is dated october 1957 (though the printing is much more recent than that) and has a different cover to the picture I have shown here. It has the same number of pages (288) though and is almost certainly the same book. There is another book also titled FM 21-76 which is about Survival, Evasion, and Recovery" which is only 104 pages, that I haven't seen.
Click here to purchase from Australia (soft cover) $22.99 AUD
Click here to purchase from Australia (hard cover) $35.49 AUD
Tom Brown's Field Guide to City and Suburban Survival, Tom Brown Jr. This is the survival guide for city and suburban environments. A nice feature is that almost all of the plants in the plants section are also found in Australia in city and suburban landscapes. If you think you might ever be stuck in a city or suburb when things start to run out (like food, electricity, water, or law enforcement), this is your book.
Click here to purchase from Australia (The Nile) $16.99 AUD
Click here to read about more of Tom Brown's books
Wilderness Living Books
Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills Thomas J. Elpel. This and the Ultimate Guide (below) would be the best two general wilderness living books that I have seen (and I have seen lots). While there is some treatment of emergency-style survival skills, the focus is on long-term living using (mostly) only what is provided by nature. This book is more nicely set out than the Ultimate Guide, and more interesting to read bits from.
Click here to purchase from Australia $38.99 AUD
Wilderness Living By Gregory J. Davenport. This is the next step up from Greg Davenport's "Wilderness Survival" survival skills book (discussed earlier on this page). Rather than focusing on the bare survival essentials you will need to get through a short-term stay away from civilisation, it is about longer-term wilderness living skills (such as you would want for a long-term stay in the wilderness).
Click here to purchase from Australia (The Nile) $26.99 AUD
Australian Bushcraft, Richard Graves. (Out of Print). This is the
new version of his "10 bushcraft books" about wilderness
survival and wilderness living skills. The original version is long
print but has been made available online here by Christopher Molloy.
From his website: "The 10 Bushcraft Books are the seminal texts
on bushcraft.... As far as is known, The 10 Bushcraft Books are unique.
There is nothing quite like them, nor is any collection of bushcraft
knowledge under one cover as comprehensive." A classic. Out of print as far as I know
and expensive secondhand (I paid about AU$60 for mine, which was okay, but I have
seen them for a lot more than that.
Kamana One by Jon Young, Wilderness Awareness School. The Kamana
program by Wilderness Awareness School (North American) is
an awesome correspondence course teaching wilderness and native
skills and awareness.
The focus is more on native awareness and
on learning your local environment (the plants and animals) than on specific survival skills. With this course, it takes a long time
before you knew a lot of actual practical skills — but by the
time you do, your level of knowledge has become very, very deep
and broad. The skills you will learn in Kamana are the foundations for being completely at home in the wilderness in a way that you could never achieve by quickly cramming some practical/technical survival skills. So it is ideal for people who are interested in survival skills as a long-term committment to learning an entire way of life.
It is also ideal for people who are not so interested in wilderness "survival" as such, but want to learn to appreciate and feel more at home in nature. Wilderness Awareness School has a policy of teaching absolutely no (what they call) "survivalist doom and gloom". Everything they offer is required to be 100% positive and inspiring, and they definitely live up to that.
Click here to purchase from Wilderness Awareness School (USA) $24.95 USD
Ultimate Guide to Wilderness Living: Surviving with Nothing But Your Bare Hands and What You Find in the Woods, John & Geri McPherson.
In-depth instructions and step-by-step photos of real survival skills--exactly what one needs to stay alive in the woods. The book first covers immediate needs like starting a fire, erecting temporary shelter, and finding food. Then it goes beyond other survival books by explaining advanced techniques for long-term living in the wild -- using only those things found in nature. The authors show how to make tools by chipping stones, fashion a bow-and-arrow out of tree branches, weave baskets, fire primitive pots, build a semi-permanent shelter, and even tan hides. Finally, the authors explain how to bring all these skills together to live in the wilderness for days, weeks, months, or even years.
Click here to purchase from Australia $20.49 AUD
Naked Into the Wilderness - Primitive Wilderness Living & Survival
Skills, John & Geri McPherson.
I chose Naked Into the Wilderness on the basis of its detailed
and very practical descriptions of the most important wilderness survival skills.
It is not a "pretty" book, the illustrations are generally
much too dark, and the text is kind of "rough". It is not
the most inspiring book in terms of romantic descriptions of
a sacred, magical wilderness survival life (if you want that, Tom Brown's
Survival would be a better choice). It is also not a book that contains
the absolute basics of wildnerness survival, such as that you can die in three
minutes without air, three hours
without adequate protection from the cold and wet, three days without
water, and three weeks without food. I would (and will, when I get
around to it) recommend other books for that kind of information.
NEW: There is a new version of this important wilderness survival book (listed above as "Ultimate Guide to Wilderness Living"). If you have this book already, don't get the new one since its almost the same content. If you don't have it yet, the new one would be the one to get.
Primitive Wilderness Skills, Applied & Advanced (“Naked Into the Wilderness 2”), by John and Geri
The second volume is currently (at the time of writing this) out of
print. I have placed a link to it at Amazon.com
on the right of
you can see the best available second hand price for it. If you can
find it at a similar price to what it was worth new (about $25USD), it
definitely be worth getting, (although I would recommend other books
ahead of it as a third essential book to get).
Emergency - This Book Will Save Your Life, Neil Strauss.
Terrorist attacks. Natural disasters. Domestic crackdowns. Economic collapse. Riots. Wars. Disease. Starvation. What can you do when it all hits the fan? You can learn to be self-sufficient and survive without the system.
This is more of an "entertainment" style book than most of the other books on this site, and one of the few that I do not own. It is a good read, though, and recommended if you are looking for a story that is interesting and easy to keep reading to see what happens next.
Click here to purchase from Australia $31.49 AUD
Primitive Technology: A Book of Earth Skills, David Wescott (editor).
Awesome book. From a reader's review, “This is, in my humble opinion, the BEST single source for primitive skills out there — PERIOD. If you've ever looked through a scientific journal or periodical, that is the basic layout for this book: a compendium of articles, each one detailing a different tool, task, method, or application of a primitive skill. It isn't a high-cut book you need a PhD to understand. You can take this out in the backyard and follow right along, and succeed!” I would agree completely.
Click here to purchase from Australia $36.99 AUD
Purchase Wilderness Awareness School (USA) US$24.95
Primitive Technology II: Ancestral Skills - From the Society of Primitive Technology, David Wescott (editor).
Primitive Technology II: Ancestral Skills provides the guide to rediscovery of the skills and crafts that bind us all into this great human family. Contents: Food Sources, Containers, Projectiles, Buckskin, Transportation Back to Basics. A continuation of the book Primitive Technology, what has been called “the best single source for primitive skills out there — PERIOD.”
Click here to purchase from Australia $37.99 AUD
The Way of the Scout: A Native American Path to Finding Spiritual Meaning in a Physical World, Tom Brown Jr.
This can be a greatly inspiring book, if read in the correct way. Much of it appears to be at the least greatly exaggerated. However Tom Brown Jr does really know how to do these types of skills, and he must have learned them from somewhere. If you are not too concerned with strict accuracy, this is a great book. It is like Tom's other books — only even more so.
Click here to purchase from Australia $11.49 AUD
Survival Skills of Native Califofnia, Paul Campbell. If survival books were ranked by how much they weigh, this would easily be either the best (or the worst) book in my collection. Weighing in at 1.1 kilograms, it is a huge book containing lots of information. Despite the title it is much more of a wilderness living book than a survival skills book in the way that most people think of survival skills. It's similar in style to the Wescott "Primitive Technology" books I have described above (apart from this one all being written by the one same person). If you are serious about learning how to live long-term without modern technology, don't even think — just get this one.
Click here to purchase from Australia (The Nile) $60.49 AUD
Man Eating Bugs: The Art and Science of Eating Insects, Faith D'Aluisio and Peter Menzel. This is the book to get to shock your friends that are afraid of spiders. The cover has a very memorable photo of a girl eating large black spiders on what looks like a satay stick without the satay sauce. Yum! Would you like flies with that?
Insects and seaweed are possibly the two most under-utilised food sources in the world today, and they will both become important when the output of our fossil-fuel-produced food systems starts to decline. This book has lots of colour photos and small writing, which makes it both interesting to flick through and informative as well. It's written from the perspective of countries where they talk about how people with more body fat are fitter and have more endurance.
Click here to purchase from Australia (The Nile) $43.49 AUD
Exploring the Outdoors with Indian Secrets, Allan A. Macfarlan. This book should really be called "Exploring the Outdoors with Indian Hunting Secrets", since that is what it is about. It's excellent. It's about bowhunting, deer hunting, how to catch predators like coyotes and foxes, how to get close to big game (like bears and mooses), how to track animals and outguess their moves, how to become invisible (like camofluague and blinds), and how to outwit small game.
Click here to purchase from Australia (The Nile) $23.49 AUD
Practicing Primitive: A Handbook of Aboriginal Skills, Steven M. Watts. This book is similar to the "Primitive Techbology" books edited by David Wescott. It contains a bit less information overall, but more drawings, it has larger writing and is easier to read. It's a good one for the collection if you already have the Primitive Technology books and/or Paul Campbell's book (see above on this page) but I would rank these other books ahead of it.
Click here to purchase from Australia (The Nile) $37.99 AUD
Books for Survival in the Future Hard Times
Which Book to Get?
If you just want to get one book and get on with what is in it (which is a good idea), read the next paragraph. Otherwise browse through this section and see what is interesting to you, and what you think you would be most likely to actually use.
If you live in an ordinary urban area or a suburb, and you aren't too put off by a "survival" style of book, get the Urban Survival Guide. If you are the type of person who would prefer a more gentle, less crisis-oriented book, get The Transition Handbook. If you live (or are planning to live) in a rural area, there are more choices. Rawles book below is good if you don't mind a pretty hardcore "survival" type of book. Gardening When It Counts would also be another option for best overall book (irrespective of where you live), even though it is only about one topic, and I would recommend it as the second book to get if you get any of the other books and want to get a second book. If you want a practical book that will get you started on one area of activity that is going to become really, really, important, for a lot of people, definitely get this book. Also check out the Patch From Scratch DVD (although the gardening style used here is a bit different, it is the best DVD I have seen on this topic).
If you would like more information about which book to choose, click on the link to amazon for each book below that looks interesting to you, and read the reviews and (if it has one) check out the "Search inside this book" section at the top left of the Amazon page, under the product image.
Urban Survival Guide: Learn The Secrets Of Urban Survival To Keep You Alive After Man-Made Disasters, Natural Disasters, and Breakdowns In Civil Order,
David Morris. This is the book I recommend to get first if you are likely to still be living in an urban area when the "s**t hits the fan" — which is most modern people. Even if you are not in an urban region, it is still a very useful book, and keep in mind that the author defines urban as any place where your neighbours are closer than 1/4 of a mile (400 metres) away. Which means almost everyone in modern life.
What makes it unique is that it contains a full 12-week urban survival course, complete with excercises and things to do along the way, as you go through the book chapter by chapter.
He uses examples from what happened after hurricane Katrina to demonstrate useful vs not-so-useful things to do. And that many of the things that people will naturally do, without knowing any better, will not be that useful. And what to do instead. Because it is written as a "survival course", going through the book in this way will make sure the information really goes inside your head, and stays there, unlike many books that you might just read and then forget.
Click here to purchase from Amazon $26.53 USD
Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times, Steve Solomon. This book covers exactly the things that people will want to know about gardening in a few years time when the food in the shops starts to run short.
When I first started growing vegetables again (again meaning as an adult rather than helping my Dad or my Grandfather), the thing that really concerned me — and depressed me — was how much water was needed to keep them alive in the summer drought. The methods taught in this book are exactly the thing that I had been looking for all that time.
The back cover comments say "Applicable to most areas in the English-speaking world except the tropics or hot deserts [so take that into account if you live in either of those climates], this book shows that any family with access to about 400 square meteres of garden land can halve their food costs in most climates using just the odd bucketful of household waste water, a few hand tools, and a few hundred dollars per year spent on supplies and seeds — working just an average of two hours a day during the peak growing season."
More from the back cover: "The decline of cheap oil and the threat of harder times to come is prompting people to grow more food themselves. But currently popular intensive vegetable gardening methods depend on cheap oil, requiring high inputs of water, fertility and organic matter. Prior to the 1970s, home food growing used more land because wider plant spacing reduces the need for irrigation and requires lower levels of soil fertility to be productive — and well-spaced plants can be weeded rapidly and conveniently with hand tools while standing upright. But these efficient systems have been largely forgotten."
"It covers a host of material, including:
- Vegetables ranked by how difficult they are to grow
- Root systems as the key to gardening mastery
- Seeds, spacing and irrigation
- Home made organic fertiliser that really works
- How to choose, use and sharpen hand tools
- Compost making, root-cellaring and irrigation
- Chemical-free handling of insects and diseases"
"Designed for readers with no experience, yet and eye-opener for even the seasoned gardener, Gardening When It Counts returns the backyard food garden to center stage for uncertain times ahead."
Click here to purchase from Australia $23.49 AUD
Click here to read reviews and samples or purchase from Amazon $13.57 USD
The Transition Handbook, Rob Hopkins.
This is the book to get first if you're the type of person who would be more likely to read a more gentle, less "survivalist" style of book. It doesn't contain as many practical "do this then do that" steps of how to prepare yourself individially than some of the other books listed here, but it is a lot more community oriented (and many people would say, more positive). Its great strength is the way it shows how to get together with groups of people in your local community and prepare together.
Spiel: "We live in an oil-dependent world. Most of us avoid thinking about what happens when oil runs out (or becomes prohibitively expensive), but The Transition Handbook shows how the inevitable and profound changes ahead can have a positive outcome. These changes can lead to the rebirth of local communities that will grow more of their own food, generate their own power, and build their own houses using local materials. They can also encourage the development of local currencies to keep money in the local area. There are now over 30 transition townsa in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, with more joining as the idea takes off. They provide valuable experience and lessons-learned for those of us on this side of the Atlantic. With little proactive thinking at the governmental level, communities are taking matters into their own hands and acting locally. If your town is not a transition town, this upbeat guide offers you the tools for starting the process."
It also has a huge amount of advice on how to deal with the coming changes, and how to help others deal with them, including advice on how to cope with your own "end of suburbia moment" — the point at which you first really "get" peak oil and its implications.
To read reviews or look inside it, click on the Amazon link below.
Click here to purchase the 2009 Australia and NZ Edition.from Australia $31.49 AUD
Click here to purchase the 2008 International Edition.from Amazon $16.14 USD
How to Survive The End of The World as We Know It, James Wesley Rawles. This is one of the best all-round books I have seen for long-term (i.e. post-global-economic-collapse) survival.
There are a few criticisms, the main one being that a lot of it is about stocking up on various different types of equipment, and he takes this a bit too far for most people. It is actually really easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you need to purchase for yourself enough equipment to (as closely as possible) replicate the material and technological standards of living of the unsustainable and grossly over-consuming modern world. I think that Mr Rawles (at least somewhat) falls into that trap.
Having got that out of the way, this book covers so much that people will need to know about in the future. If you start on this right now, today, then you will have as long as possible to change your attitudes and your life before the proverbial s**t hits the fan (and you are forced to change them very rapidly).
He doesnt cover an "escape into the wilderness" type of approach at all, so that is also something to be aware of. If you are looking for that, see "Bug Out" below on this page.. But then, this book is so good (in terms of how much useful information it contains) that even if hiding out in the woods is more to your liking, you could still learn a lot from it. His main approach is to have a "retreat" location, which is in a rural area, where (ideally) you move to before trouble begins, or alternatively, have prepared so that you can move there quickly when you need to.
Click here to purchase from Australia $20.99 AUD
The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse,
Fernando "Ferfal" Aguirre. Ferfal's book is based on his own experiences in Argentina before and after their economic collapse in 2001. This has its advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage being that he knows from experience what he is talking about. This is unlike most of the "how to survive the end of the world"-type of books, which are written by people who have not survived the end of the world before. The disadvantage, though is that it does give his approach a lot of bias towards the circumstances that happened in Argentina where he lived. That is, it might not work so well in different circumstances. Having said that, there is a huge amount of information that would be useful in a wide range of circumstances.
One thing that he says, which many survivalists would disagree with, is that you will be possibly much better off in a city than in a rural area. Although he does make a concession that a small country town would possibly be the best option, his experience and bias is clearly towards living in a city or urban location. This means that if you cannot imagine yourself living in a rural location, I would recommend this book as one of the best that I have seen on this topic. I think that the reason he is so in favour of living in an urban location is that things did not really get that bad in Argentina, compared to some of the possible "Armageddon"-type scenarios that might happen in the future when there is no more cheap oil or economic growth.
Overall this is an excellent book and one that I would highly recommend.
Click here to purchase from Amazon $24.95 USD
2012: Is This the End? Lloyd B. Hildebrand. This isn't really a "how to survive" book, rather it goes through the end-times prophecies of a large number of cultures and traditions. These include the Mayans, Incas, Toltecs and Aztecs, the "Book of Changes", the Hopi and Cherokee Indians, Merlin the Magician, Mother Shipton, Nostradamus, the Last-Pope prophecy and other Roman Catholic prophecies, Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Science, Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
The Last-Pope prophecy is really interesting (in my opinion) and ties in closely with the Long-count Calendar of the Mayans which ends on the 21st of December, 2012. Since it covers so many different traditions, it does not go into any one with a vast amount of depth. There are a lot of people that like to debate the finer details of many of these prophecies, though this book is more of an overview for "normal" people.
The final chapter gives the Author's own perspective, that he is a Christian and therefore he draws from what the Bible says about the end times. He gives some very basic survivalist tips but his "how to prepare" focus is mostly on spiritual steps and looking to face death with peace and knowing that, as a believer, death is not the end, but a whole new beginning.
Is This the End?
Personally I think that the fact that we are living in the "end times" is obvious for two reasons: 1. we are reaching the limits of resource availability on the planet (oil, fresh water, topsoil, many critical minerals, forests, etc, etc.), and 2. capitalism and the global economy (and arguably all cultures larger than small tribal settlements) require ongoing economic growth to remain in existence.
World Population (Source: Wikipedia)
Examine the graph of world population above, noting that the shaded area under the graph gives an approximate idea of the amount of resources that will be consumed by those people. Consider also that modern people use far more resources per person than people did in the old days. (For example, the average person in the USA has 70 times the ecological footprint of the average person in Bangaladesh).
What this means if that in order for business as usual to continue for just another generation (say 30-40 years), the amount of resources the world will need for just those next few decades is roughly equal to (or greater than) the total amount of resources that have ever been consumed, ever, in the history of the human race. When you consider also that we have already used more than half of the available oil, over 75% of the topsoil that existed in the 1500s is now gone, and the human race now uses over 40% of the total resources available to all species on the planet, and our global economy must continue to grow in order for it to continue to exist, it is clear that we are about to run into some big changes. [See here for more about this.]
It is interesting to see how these changes have been described by other cultures (especially in the past), and that is what you will find in this book.
Click here to purchase from Australia $22.99 AUD
Nuclear War Survival Skills, Updated and Expanded Edition,
Cresson H. Kearny. This is the "bible" of how to survive a nuclear war. Reading just a small amount of this book will have you convinced that the possibility of surviving a nuclear war is in fact much, much greater than most people believe — provided that you follow a few simple but necessary steps. It explains the basic things you need to to do to protect yourself, especially in the critical first few days after the explosion. The techniques are meant to be used by ordinary people, with access to simple household items, not requiring huge budgets and high-tech shelters.
Nuclear War Survival Skills can be read for free online on the author's website. This version is the 1987 edition, which is the same as the current 2001 edition except it does not have the addendum on hormesis. Hormesis is the idea that extremely low doses of radiation are not only unharmful, but stimulate the body's defence mechanisms in a way that improves their tolerance to higher doses of radiation that may follow. The addendum is only one page long but it is a good read and adds a positive tone to the end of the book.
This book is so good that (at least at the time I wrote this, out of 19 reviews), every single reviewer on Amazon.com has rated it 5 out of 5 stars. This is almost never seen. There is also a DVD series by the author of this book, available from his website. I haven't seen the DVDs though they look very good, it's $149 USD for the 8-DVD set.
Click here to purchase from Amazon $20.91 USD
Click here to see reviews of an older edition (with more reviews) on Amazon $19.95 USD
Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It’s Too Late, Scott B. Williams. If you are looking to escape into the wilderness when the global economy is no more, this is your book. The only downside (for people outside the USA) is that 200 of the 300 pages are about locations inside the USA that would be good to live in if you want to be as far away from people as possible. Still, the 100 other pages are easily worth the price of the book in my opinion and you will learn at least a few things that you might not have thought of before.
If you are seriously considering this type of approach, one really nice thing is that you don't need to buy that much gear (since basically everything you have you are going to be carrying with you, apart from that which you might stash away secretly somewhere).
One thing that surprised me when I started reading it, is how, even in the USA, Mr Williams makes it seem really clear that there would be plenty of remote places to live in, miles away from anyone else that might give you trouble. With that being the case, it seems that it would be 1000 times easier to try to do the same thing here in Australia, considering how low our population is compared to the USA, and how much of our population is concentrated in cities. It is really easy to forget just how much wide open space there really is out there.
Click here to purchase from Australia $23.49 AUD
Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Family Safe in a Crisis, Peggy Layton. Peggy's book is mostly about food storage. It is a really friendly book, the type you could give to someone who is not really into "that survivalist stuff", without scaring them almost to death (or scaring them too much to want to read the book). There are recipies and a lot of pages with tables that have blank boxes that you can use to write in the items that you need and the items that you have in storage and things like that. There are sections on preserving foods, how to garden, and other things that you will need in the future. Unlike most of the other books, it doesn't really say anything about self-defence. Also it's not as in-depth as some of the other books I have reviwed, but it is very easy to read and it does not give you the feeling that you need hundreds of years of spare time to actually do the things that she recommends. This also means it is an excellent book to get if you are new to this type of stuff.
Click here to purchase from Australia $24.49 AUD
Patch From Scratch & Cottage Gardens, by Peter Cundall and Gardening Australia (DVD). This is a combination of two videos that used to be sold separately on VHS. The "Patch from Scratch" video is really, really good if you want to learn from scratch about how to grow vegetables organically. In Patch from Scratch, Peter Cundall shows you step-by-step how to start a vegetable garden, beginning with an ordinary suburban lawn. He goes through each season (some of then broken into early and late) for 18 months, describing everything in amazing detail. There is so much information in this video you could watch it 100 times and still learn more. The only real criticism (if you can even call it that) I can think of is that it is so densely packed with information, your brain gets saturated after 10 or 15 minutes. So don't expect to take it all in in one sitting. I would recommend watching it through all the way just for an introduction, and then watch just the section for each month that you are up to, and do what he explains in that month/season.
Click here to purchase from Australia (Fishpond) $29.99 AUD
The World’s Most Dangerous Places, Robert Young Pelton. This is the book to get if you are at all frightened (you don't have to admit it to anyone) about the idea of living in a war zone, a collapsed economy, or somewhere with significant civil unrest. Since all of these things are likely to happen to Western countries at some point in the future, it would be good reading for anyone really.
It's a thick book, over 1000 pages, not the type of book you would expect to read from front to back. Its kind of like a "Lonely Planet" style of guide — to the places that no sane person would ever want to visit. A lot of it is humorous, the humour begins in the first paragraph inside the title page where Mr Young assures that anyone "stupid enough to use this as a travel guide" is on their own, and that any tiny country or dictator who would like a more favourable description than he gives them is welcome to send any corrections to him along with a cheque for $500,000.
The real benefit of this book is that reading it will gradually bring your mind more and more around to the idea that all this violence and death is much less of an issue than how you used to feel. This especially applies to anyone (such as myself) who has lived all their life in safe western countries.
It will also get you used to the idea that economic collapse and the things that go along with it are already happening to much of the world. In a strange way, this can actually be really reassuring — when you spend a lot of time focused on the upcoming "global economic collapse", it can seem hard to imagine in a daunting, freaky kind of way. In "DP" (as Robert calls his book), you can get a good feeling for how these things have already happened to much of the world, and the world still turns, and you can even have a bit of a laugh about it, and basically be entertained while you are doing it. The style reminds me of "The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy" from the 1980s — not the books by Douglas Adams but the actual guide itself that was described in those books.
Click here to purchase from Australia $36.49 AUD
Where There is No Doctor, David Werner. This is the standard medical book for places without modern medical care. It's not a "wilderness medicine" style of book designed to keep you alive until you can be helicopter-lifted to a modern first-world hospital. It's the book to get if you have ever wondered how people would get by in the absence of modern Western high-tech medical care.
Having been written for people in third-world countries who might not have much english or a uni degree in medical science, it's also very easy to understand.
From the sales pitch — "With 3 million copies in print in over 50 languages, Where There Is No Doctor is the most widely used health care manual in use in developing countries today. Using simple language and hundreds of drawings, the book provides information about recognising, treating and preventing common illnesses and injuries. But it is far more than simple first aid information. It covers a wide range of subjects that affect the health of the villager - from diarrhoea to tuberculosis, from helpful and harmful home remedies to the cautious use of certain modern medicines. Special importance is placed on cleanliness, a healthy diet, vaccination, childbirth and family planning."
Click here to purchase from Australia (The Nile) $30.49 AUD
Wilderness Evasion: A Guide to Hiding Out and Eluding Pursuit in Remote Areas, Michael Chesbro. This is the only book I have seen on this topic. Most of the survival books have a chapter on how to get other people to find you, this is the book for if you think you might ever not want to be found.
The advertising for this book goes "Do you need to get away from the pressures of the world and the gaze of Big Brother for a while? Do you plan to live or work in a remote area where you need to be able to take care of yourself? Do you want to develop the skills to remain undiscovered in the back country - even if others are searching for you? If so, Wilderness Evasion is for you. You don't have to be on the run to benefit from this unique survival book: it includes skills you can use every day in your real life. Whether you're heading into the woods for evasion purposes or just a little relaxation, you should know what this manual can teach you about survival medicine, emergency caching, communications, food and water procurement and storage, counter anti-tracking, and the psychological aspects of being alone in the back country, among other things. The ability to remain alive, self-reliant and in control of your environment - even in the remotest of areas - is one that few people possess these days. Learning the skills taught in this book can keep you alive for as long as you need to be in the wilderness. For academic study only." Note the disclaimer at the end that it is for academic study only.
Click here to purchase from Australia (The Nile) $23.49 AUD
Other Survival Books
Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why Laurence Gonzales. This is an awesome book which I definitely recommend to anyone interested in this kind of stuff. It is organised as a "storybook", that is, the kind of book you can just read from front to back, rather than a reference book (many of the other books on this page are reference books). You will learn a huge amount about real-life survival situations from reading these true stories.
The spiel for "Deep Survival" goes like this:
Fascinating for any reader, and absolutely essential for anyone who takes a hike in the woods, this book will change the way readers understand themselves and the great outdoors.
After her plane crashes, a seventeen-year-old girl spends eleven days walking through the Peruvian jungle. Against all odds, with no food, shelter, or equipment, she gets out. A better-equipped group of adult survivors of the same crash sits down and dies. What makes the difference? Examining such stories of miraculous endurance and tragic death-how people get into trouble and how they get out again (or not) — Deep Survival takes us from the tops of snowy mountains and the depths of oceans to the workings of the brain that control our behavior. Through close analysis of case studies, Laurence Gonzales describes the "stages of survival" and reveals the essence of a survivor-truths that apply not only to surviving in the wild but also to surviving life-threatening illness, relationships, the death of a loved one, running a business during uncertain times, even war.
Laurence Gonzales is a contributing editor for National Geographic Adventure magazine. The winner of numerous awards, he can be found at his website www.deepsurvival.com.
Click here to purchase from Australia (Soft Cover) $20.99 AUD
Click here to purchase from Australia (Hard Cover) $33.49 AUD
The Worst-case Scenario Survival Handbook: Christmas by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht. This is a cool book that I bought cheap from a discount shop in Sydney a couple of years ago. (They are in an underground subway near the bus interchange between Central station and broadway if you want to look for it, but it was at least two years ago.) For more information on my site see the page "Surviving Christmas".
It would make an ideal present to give to anyone who is into "survival", or for anyone who is into survival to give to anyone they know.
You can get it very cheap from Amazon.com (new from about $3), or in Australia you can get it from "The Nile" (which will arrive more quickly, presumably, for people who are in Australia).
Click here to purchase from Australia (The Nile) $22.49 AUD
My Top Two Survival Books
Survival Courses Near Sydney and the Blue Mountains
Australian Field Guides and Nature Books
Permaculture, Self Sufficiency And Sustainable Living Books
Books by Tom Brown, Jr.
Books About Near-Death Experiences
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