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98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive Paperback – Illustrated, June 23, 2003
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This outrageously straightforward survival book teaches you what you need to know, now, to live through virtually every survival scenario. (Los Angeles Daily News 2003-08-14)
From the Inside Flap
A destined underground classic, 98.6: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive is a nonstop thrill ride, jam-packed with commonsense modern survival skills for the backcountry, the backyard, or the highway. Author Cody Lundin, founder and director of the nationally recognized Aboriginal Living Skills School, shares his own brand of wilderness wisdom based on the unique principle of keeping the body's core temperature at a lively 98.6 degrees.
In his no-nonsense and informative style-paired with outrageously hip visuals-Cody stresses that a human can live without food for weeks, and without water for several days. But if the body's core temperature dips much below or above the 98.6-degree mark, a person can literally die within hours. It is a concept that many don't take seriously or even consider, but knowing what to do to maintain a safe core temperature when visiting the great outdoors could save your life.
Delivered with wit, rebellious humor, and plenty of backcountry expertise, 98.6: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive is destined to not only entertain but to empower the reader with practical advice, information, and detailed instructions of how to create an effective modern-day survival kit using simple, easy-to-find items.
Buy a copy for yourself-and for your grandmother!
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As the title suggests, Lundin focuses on the issue of maintaining the body’s core temperature as the key to short-term survival, and special attention is given to the subjects of hypo- and hyperthermia. Besides dressing appropriately, maintaining core temperature involves requirements such as hydration that may not seem relevant at first blush. The heart of the message is that one has to plan for the worst even on apparently mundane treks or drives into the backwoods. Lundin hammers home the importance of letting others know where one is going and by when one will return. However, the bulk of the space is devoted to suggestions about what to pack in your survival kit.
Lundin takes a light-hearted tone while talking about the dire nature of survival in the wild. Many of the graphics are quirky, caricaturesque line drawings (there are also photos--mostly towards the rear of the book in the discussion of gear and kits.) His writing style is conversational—which is to say that he writes like he talks. While this may induce rage in English teachers, I find it’s only problematic if it leads to misunderstandings. (i.e. In conversation there are fewer opportunities for misunderstanding because there is non-verbal communication and the potential for feedback.) Having said that, I can’t recall any cases in which meaning was unclear, so either Lundin is conscientious about this issue, or his editor did a good job of maintaining his style without losing clarity. The conversational tone involves a lot of analogies and metaphors that are sometimes humorous but sometimes over-the-top.
Lundin’s advice runs toward the pragmatic and the frugal. Survival gadgetry and gear is a huge industry, and Lundin’s guide helps a budget-weary amateur outdoorsman know where it’s worth spending a little extra and where it’s likely to be a waste of money. (In some cases, spending more money will leave one worse off in more areas than the pocket-book.)
Despite his folksy tone, it’s clear that Lundin is no stranger to science. One thing that one will get in his guide that’s uncommon in others is scientific explanations--in lay terms--of why some methods or equipment will or won’t work. This ranges from the physics of space blankets to the psychology of fear to the chemistry of nutrition.
Another strength of this guide is that it gives due attention to the crucial nature of the mind in survival. There are a few early chapters devoted to this. Many guides might give a paragraph to the subject before plowing into survival methods. The problem is that some people may die overwhelmed and unable to keep all that knowledge straight. Tips about keeping one’s head seem worth the space.
In addition to the use of humor and anecdotes, there is a clear attempt to make the information memorable. Lundin uses mnemonic devices to help people ingrain information, and frequently recaps important points. He also has a “Cliff Notes” version at the back of the book that condenses his message down into a few pages.
If you like to spend time outdoors, I’d recommend you pick up this book. Of course, reading a book is not going to keep you alive, you have to practice with the gear you assemble, but the book is an important first step.
The vast majority of the time (97 percent), people are found within 3 days of searching and Cody’s small kit size reflects this, plus other factors like his expertise. One should keep in mind, however, that the 4.2 pound kit component list on page 133 doesn’t include the weight of stuff like the fanny pack, 2 one quart canteens of water, a multi-tool, extra flashlight with batteries, etc, so even if you are as knowledgeable as Cody Lundin, you will almost certainly be carrying more than 4.2 pounds worth of gear. That being said, his book does put into perspective about gear that doesn’t involve regulating your body’s core temperature as being unnecessary for most short term survival situations.