Books by Tom Brown Jr

Books by Tom Brown, Jr.

See Also: Interview With Tom Brown Jr. on Wilderness Survival (Video), Survival Books, My Top Two Survival Books, Survival DVDs, Australian Field Guides and Nature Books, and Books About Near-Death Experiences.

This page contains my reviews of the books by the famous American naturalist and survival instructor, Tom Brown Jr.

Tom's books have given me more inspiration and motivation to learn about (and practice) nature and survival than anything else I have seen, except for the experiences I had myself playing in the bush as a child.

Survival, Self Sufficiency and Sustainable Living This page is still UNDER CONSTRUCTION. I will be adding more content to the shorter reviews (and after that, to the longer ones also) as I get the time do them...

Categories Found On This Tom Brown, Jr. Books Page

Biographical Books
Field Guides
Other Books

There are two types of books, the "biographical books" and the field guides. There are a couple of books I didn't think fit into either of these categories so I have placed them underneath, in "other books". Within each category the books are listed in the order that they came out, though the stories and the skills in the field guides don't necessarily follow on from each other, so there is no real need to read them in order. You can start with any book that appeals to you the most.

The biographical books are the type of books that you can sit down by the fire (or heater, or pool, etc.) and read from front to back. In the first draft of this page I called them "storybooks" but then I realised that people might think that meant they were fiction, when they are meant to be mostly true stories (see below for more on this) about Tom's life. They are easy to read and the chapters are usually short and (most of the time) relatively self contained, in that each chapter is a separate story.

The field guides are more like the typical reference type survival book. Though you could read them from front to back, most people would read the first chapter or two of introduction, and then select bits from each of the other chapters to learn and practice the skills in the book.

Sometimes the cover pictures for these books change from year to year, when you order a book it does not always have the same cover image that is on the website.

There is debate over whether or not the things that Tom writes about in his biographical books really happened, or are even possible. The later books (such as Grandfather and The Way of the Scout) certainly contain a lot of material that makes some people think there is no way this could be possible. My own opinion is that while perhaps some of it may be exaggerated, at least most of it is probably true. It is definitely true that Tom runs a hugely successful wilderness survival and philosophy school, and that from the feedback given by students who have been to his school, he definitely knows how to do the things that he describes in his books. He must have learned them somehow, and the only way anyone could really learn to do that kind of stuff is by practising that kind of stuff. Which is exactly what he writes about in his books.

Perhaps it is also worth pointing out that Native American people (and native people from all over the world) are the same species as modern Western people, with the same capacities for achievement, learning, and every other type of endeavour. If you were to go back to say the year 1300, and describe to an American (or anyone from any country, really) the types of things that people regularly do today, they would not believe it could be possible. When modern people like us hear stories of what can be done with a completely different set of skills, developed to a level of experience and practice that starts as a young child and takes much of a person's life to refine, it is only natural that they would sound similarly impossible.

I came across a forum post (see here) where a Native American says that that he has "Sat among Lipan Apaches (whom Tom Brown claims Stalking Wolf to be of), and they have all heard Tom tell his stories of Stalking Wolf. They have accepted them all as true, and even have Tom involved with their programs and ceremonies. Now... I'm no expert, but if it's good enough for them, than well... it's good enough for me".

Biographical Books by Tom Brown, Jr.

The Tracker, Tom Brown Jr.The Tracker, Tom Brown Jr.

The Tracker is the first of Tom's books that was published, and it contains the most stories about his younger childhood days, from when Tom first met his Native American teacher Grandfather Stalking Wolf, when he was 7 years old. The Tracker starts off with a lot of emphasis on tracking (what a surprise, given the title), and then gives way to more general stories about nature, camping, survival, and wilderness living experiences that Tom had with Grandfather and his friend Rick.

My favourite chapter is chapter 9, "Chickadee Survival", where Tom describes how he and Rick teach their scout troop, including the scout leader, how to survive being stuck in a massive blizzard.

For most people who are new to Tom's books, I would recommend reading this after The Search.

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The Search, Tom Brown Jr.The Search, Tom Brown Jr.

The Search is the first of Tom's books that I read. When I bought it, I was debating whether or not I should get it since I had made a rule for myself that I was only allowed to buy one book at a time, and there was another book I also wanted to get. The four digits of the price of the book at the time, in dollars and cents, made up the year I was born in, and I thought that must be a sign I was meant to buy it. I read the whole book within a few days of buying it, it was one of those books that I didn't want to stop reading.

This is the book I recommend to people as the first Tom Brown book to read. The reasons for this are that the stories are quite accessible to people who don't have years of living like a Native American behind them, they are interesting, the chapters are short, the writing is a larger font size than "The Tracker", there is less of an emphasis on the more serious spiritual types of skills that Tom writes about a lot in his later biographical books, there is a cool introduction based on when Tom was an adolescent wanting to rebel against "the system" (which a lot of people can relate to), and I find that when I lend copies of it to people, or buy it for a gift, people are more likely to finish reading it than any of Tom's other books that I have lent or given to people.

You can read the introduction to "The Search" by Tom Brown Jr. here.

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The Vision, Tom Brown Jr.The Vision, Tom Brown Jr.

The vision is the first of Tom's biographical books with a fair amount of spiritual content. This and the next three books have a fair amount of spiritual material which is a combination of Native American, Christian and what some people might call "new-age".

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The Quest, Tom Brown Jr.The Quest, Tom Brown Jr.

The title of The Quest is taken from the 40-day vision quest that Tom writes about in the middle of the book. The Quest is the second of Tom's books that I read. It found me rather than I found it — a friend of who knew that I liked Tom's other book The Search saw it for $2 in a bookshop and bought it for me. Not long after that it went out of print and copies were selling secondhand on the internet for up to $100 USD. It's a great book, though parts of it are quite dark. It contains the chapter on Jesus that I have quoted from on this website. It also contains the "red sky prophecy" by Grandfather about what will happen to the world in the future because of modern civilisation and its unsustainable consumption and destruction of the environment. It is one of Tom's most powerful books, though not as happy or light as some of his other books.

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The Journey, Tom Brown Jr.The Journey, Tom Brown Jr.

I was stoked when I found a copy of The Journey for a reasonable price, since at the time I bought it (the early 2000s) it was out of print and most copies were going for $60-70 US dollars and above. It is more stories of Tom, Rick, Grandfather, and their adventures — perhaps in between The Search and The Vision with a bit of The Quest thrown in at the end. Towards the end of the book (in Chapter 11, called "Four Visions") the Red Sky Prophecy from The Quest (see above) is revisited, and a new prophecy of Grandfather about "white snakes in the sky" is described. These prophecies are explained not as being definite but as "probable futures". The Red Sky Prophecy is described as the most probable future, and the one that will most likely happen if modern society does not change its ways and return to a simpler and less greedy/material existence. The vision of the white snakes in the sky is the darkest of anything described in Tom's books, which sounds similar to what would happen after a massive nuclear war (these words are not used in the book) and then a nuclear winter or ice age, where most of the life on Earth (including the human race) is destroyed.

Personally I find that the darker, more serious elements to what is likely to happen to the world in the future are a good kick in the butt, and a strong source of motivation — but only up to a certain point. If I focus on them too much, I can become too filled with a dark, freaked out, serious and stressed type of energy. I think this is pretty normal and it happens to most people. It is at this point that it's good to be reminded that there are a lot of things that can be done to help your life in the future, and the lives of others, without having to think about that "doom and gloom" stuff at all. Tom's first student, Jon Young, has founded his own nature and survival school, Wilderness Awareness School, coming from this angle. They have a strictly enforced policy of no "survivalist doom and gloom" in any of their material. I think a bit of it is good, in its place and in moderation, since it is what is really happening in the world, and I would rather know than bury my head in the sand.

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Grandfather, Tom Brown Jr.Grandfather, Tom Brown Jr.

Grandfather is my favourite of Tom's books. You can read some short excerpts from it here on my website.

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The Way of the Scout, Tom Brown Jr.The Way of the Scout, Tom Brown Jr.

The Way of The Scout is the most entertaining of Tom's books, and also one of the most inspiring. It is also really easy to read. I sometimes lend it to people as their first Tom Brown book, and they usually finish reading it (like The Search but unlike The Tracker — I've found that people seem to get bored with The Tracker unless they are really into this kind of stuff. If you are worried about getting bored then get this one since it is the most interesting. It also has some of the more way out stories in terms of how impossible they seem, which is the main reason that I don't always recommend it as the first book to read. Tom's earlier books (The Search and The Tracker) are closer to what ordinary modern Western people are used to imagining as being possible to do, which in a way makes them more accessible.

If you are afraid of modern society crashing to an untimely end when resources start to run out, this book will give you ideas of dealing with that, that you have probably never considered before.

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Case Files of The Tracker, Tom Brown Jr.Case Files of The Tracker, Tom Brown Jr.

This is the only biographical book of Tom's that I haven't read. The reviews on Amazon weren't as good as the other books, and it's mainly about police work, rather than wilderness survival. I have included it here so that this page is complete. If you are interested in stories of Tom tracking down other people (both lost people and criminals on the run), this would be a good book for you.

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Field Guides by Tom Brown, Jr.

Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival, Tom Brown Jr. 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).

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Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival, Tom Brown Jr. Tom Brown's Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking, Tom Brown Jr.

I will finish the review later. Its a really good one to get. It has the basics of nature observation (what you might call "wilderness awareness"), and the basics of tracking. The tracking section has a chapter on reading the pressure releases, but if you really want to learn this you should get The Science and Art of Tracking (see further down this page).

A lot of the stuff in the first half (nature observation) is very much like what Jon Young teaches in his Kamana Program, but in Tom Brown's book it is taught in a less detailed and less formalised way.

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Tom Brown's Field Guide to City and Suburban Survival, Tom Brown Jr. 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.

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Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival, Tom Brown Jr. Tom Brown's Field Guide to Living With the Earth, Tom Brown Jr.

This the wilderness living version of Tom's survival guide, with material that relates more to long term stays (or permanent living) in the wilderness as a hunter-gatherer.

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Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival, Tom Brown Jr. Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants, Tom Brown Jr.

This is a plants book (obviously, from the title). Unlike most wild plant books, it only contains a few plants, and it has a lot of information about each plant. It is written in Tom's style, which makes most field guides seem bland and dry. I will list the plants when I update this page, and show which ones are found wild in Australia and which are not. There were enough plants growing wild in Australia that I thought it was worth getting the book (unlike most plant books written for North America).

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Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival, Tom Brown Jr. Tom Brown's Field Guide to The Forgotten Wilderness, Tom Brown Jr.

This is about the wilderness in your backyard. Many of the plants and animals are found in Australia. It's not really a survival guide, more of a nature awareness guide. It is good if you don't have the time or inclination to spend a great deal of time in the wilderness, but want to learn to appreciate nature more from your own backyard.

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Tom Brown's Field Guide to Nature and Survival for Children, Tom Brown Jr. with Judy Brown. 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 wilderness survival 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 disillusionment 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.

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Other Books by Tom Brown, Jr.

Awakening Spirits, Tom Brown Jr.Awakening Spirits, Tom Brown Jr.

Awakening spirits is written in three parts. The first part is stories, similar in style to the other biographical books, about spiritual belief, inner silence, and meditation. The other two parts describe how to practice Tom's meditation technique, which he calls the Sacred Silence.

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The Science and Art of Tracking, Tom Brown Jr. The Science and Art of Tracking, Tom Brown Jr.

The Science and Art of Tracking is an advanced tracking book. That does not mean, though, that you could not be a complete beginner and start with it. It is written in a way that does not require previous knowledge of tracking to understand it.

It is about how to read pressure releases, which is the information contained in the track and how the ground surrounding the track and inside the track has been deformed by the pressure of the animal's foot. Once you learn to read the pressure releases, this information can be read in the same way that you are reading the black dots on the cream background of this web page, that your brain translates into letters and words and meaning. The types of meanings you can get from this are things like how fast was the animal (or person) moving, are they starting or stopping or changing speed, are they changing direction (turning), which way is their head pointing (it may be different to the way their feet are pointing). The later chapters cover even more subtle things like if the animal is in a state of indecision, does it have a full or empty belly, and even other thoughts and emotions of the animal can be read from the track by a very experienced tracker who is proficient with reading the pressure releases.

The Science and Art of Tracking starts explaining how to read these pressure releases right from the beginning — which is why it could be read by anyone, regardless of their level of experience. However, the book does not go into any of the more usual things that people learn first when they are beginning to learn tracking. There are no pictures or descriptions of what animal makes what track or anything like that. For that reason, if you are new to tracking, it would be better to start with Tom's Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking, which will give you the basics of tracking. If you live in Australia you should also definitely get Barbara Triggs' book Tracks, Scats and Other Traces, which is the only book I know of for Australia that goes into detail about the tracks and other signs left by the different Australian animals.

There is also a section on how to set up a tracking box (a fancy name for a big sandpit) in your backyard that you can use to practice reading prints in the sand.

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Interview With Tom Brown Jr. on Wilderness Survival (Video)
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My Top Two Survival Books
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