Customer Reviews: The U.S. Army Survival Manual: Department of the Army Field Manual 21-76
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on January 6, 2011
This book is the 1957 version of the FM21-76. It's nice for historical reference and could be used for some survival. The section on water alone was missing many of the great tips and tactics of the more recent version. I wish I'd have done more research before purchasing this version as I wanted the more recent and relevant military survival manual.

to recap: This is not a modern version of the FM21-76. This is a paperback and wouldn't make it long crammed into a backpack.
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on June 21, 2011
I picked up the hardcover version of FM 21-76 for about $10 in the clearance pile of a major bookstore, and I must say that this book is brilliant. It's not the only survival guide you'll ever need, nor is it best survival guide that you could possibly find. What it is, is a starting point for every 19 year-old who was scooped up out of a random city block, and might be dumped into a jungle, desert, ocean, or snow bank in the next six months.

The breadth of the content covered is remarkable. The writers have tried to literally talk about everything that you might need to know in a survival situation, from ways to not be so cold and wet, to elementary mongoose catching. The table of contents reveals seventeen chapters which include, but are not limited to the following topics: medicine, tool-making, water, fire, shelter, food, and guides to specific environments. Four appendices offer color photographs of plants, weather indicators, and poisonous snakes.

The information presented in each chapter is, no doubt, based on the decades of experience accumulated by soldiers in the field. I am admittedly not a wilderness expert, but can say that every suggestion seems entirely plausible to me, and that the authors have thought of things that might never have occurred to me. There are detailed instructions, for example, on the construction of a gill net for fishing, in addition to four other means of trapping fish, three types of hooks and four types of fishing spear. One person, even a clever person is not likely to come up with twelve possible solutions to one problem in a stressful situation, and that is a major strength of the manual.

There are deficiencies in this work, of course, most of which are unavoidable given its purpose. The authors have presented useful ideas, but occasionally sacrificed some important detail in order to keep the explanations simple. The section on "field expedient weapons," for example, presents an illustrated guide to stone tool manufacture without any discussion of suitable materials. I can unfortunately say from experience that trying to make a useful tool form the wrong rock, and most rocks are wrong, can be a frustrating and dangerous waste of energy. Still, it's probably better to have the idea than to have no idea at all.

The final selling point for me, and one likely underappreciated by both the producers of the manual and its intended audience, is its sheer entertainment value. The terse, and sometimes brutal, prose of military technical writing at times drifts into comedic genius. I submit as an example one entry form a bulleted list on catching small animals:

"Beaver - Wait for the beaver to come on land, then club it, drop-kick it, hit it with a rock, or catch it by the tail. It is a sturdy animal, so if you catch it by the tail, swing it in a pendulum motion until it begins to relax, then swing it against a tree or the ground or use a noose to kill it. Another way to get a beaver is to dig out the beaver dam so the water drains. The beaver will come to inspect the damage at which time you can straddle the channel and grab the beaver by its tail as it swims through. Immediately start to swing the beaver as above. CAUTION: Take care to keep it from biting you. Its bite will leave a large wound."

Picture a tentative Joe-Jack from Brooklyn, compelled by hunger to temporarily disregard the welfare of what he thinks might be a beaver (there's no clear picture of one), straddling a brook and pondering the execution of any one of the recommended maneuvers. If that doesn't cheer you up... well, it's still a pretty useful book.
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on February 25, 2011
I purchased this book from Borders for way too much,I had gotten the same manual from my fathers office, the real FM 21-76, This book is a little outdated and they have cut out alot, if you want the real one I would suggest getting the one with the very plain white cover, That is the real one.
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on February 10, 2014
I am in the Army and hve it in digital form. But if the S*** does hit the fan. Paper is only going to be useful because power may not be an option for digital formats. It is the most indepth and clearly written survival manual I have read yet. And decent pics.
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on August 6, 2012
We all know it is coming. Social collapse, Economic chaos, and the end of the line for a lot of the things we take for granted. Just look at your news reports, read a news paper and you will see that times are changing. I bought this book to help my family prepare for the changes whether they be small or large. Being ready for something of this potential magnitude is only smart. This book will help you face the chaos with a greater sense of preparedness.
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on November 29, 2010
This is the newer civilian version of the Army survival book that concentrates on the straightforward survival material a civilian going camping may need to know. It is written in very accessible easy to understand language, and you do not need to be an expert in order to use this information. The material includes chapters on: Navigation and compass use; Health & Hygiene in the outdoors to prevent sickness, including first aid; Hazards in the wild to watch out for;
Foods and where to find them including harvesting and identifying native plants and vegetables; How to fish and tons of unusual different ways to catch them with local materials that actually work; other food from fresh water sources; Trapping mammals, rodents, reptiles, insects, catching birds, and more including how to dress and prepare these; Cooking, preserving food in the wild; methods of fire making including without matches or lighter.

One of the most important chapters tells you how to find the most important element you need to survive. Water from Plants, digging for water, purifying found water, and building a solar water still. Other chapters include Climate and Weather, Travel, finding or building Shelter, Clothing, Health, Survival at Sea, Poisonous Snakes, signaling for help, what to do if you are lost, and much more ...

An extremely useful book for the camper to keep in their supplies. One very nice treat... the version sold here differs from the real surplus military version in that it offers color photos of the plants (original military version was black and white), and it is very comprehensive. While there are books available on edible and poisonous plants that are more specialized, the material here is very adequate for inclusion in this manual. All in all, one of the best books on the survival subject, well rounded and very detailed. I have a library of books on camping and camping emergencies. While one reviewer thought this book had too much info and wanted a simpler book, I would say that if you had it with you in an emergency you would be glad of its many topics. You may even want to keep a copy in the trunk of your car with your roadside tools, since you never know when you might need some help making a fire or finding water.

Some editions of this book has been modified for civilian use. The original title of manual FM 21-76 when it was written for the military was "Survival, Evasion, and Escape", most of the newer versions listed at Amazon are specifically titled only "Survival". The military chapters of the original book dealing with evasion tactics and escape methods have been removed in the newer edition. If you feel you need that info too, buy an older version with the full title intact. If you are buying used, be sure to query the seller which version they have and if you are still unsure, only buy it from Amazon new.
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on January 14, 2014
i bought this on kendal and dont waste your money. no pics come with it, spend your money buying a hard copy----its much more useful !!! i have used the hard copy in the military----packed with good info.
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on December 6, 2012
I first read the Army Survival Manual when I was in the Army. After looking at the world, and the pending Zombie Apocolypse I felt it was time to refresh my memory. IMO, it is the second best survival manual available.
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on January 14, 2012
Went to Barns and Noble to look at survival/wilderness books and simply couldn't find exactly what i wanted. This book is perfect...detailed yet simple enough to read and put to use on the fly. The Army has been using this book for years for a reason.
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on September 22, 2012
The army knew that it's men may find themselves cut off, alone and fending for themselves. They knew they had to not only equip these men but prepare them to survive on their own. This manual is that preparation. The bottom line is that with the information in this manual a man could not only survive indefinitely on his own, but do so in a hostile environment.

There is a reason this manual has gone pretty much unchanged for something like 70 years. It's because they got it right the first time.
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