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SAS Survival Handbook, Third Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere Paperback – November 11, 2014
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“This step-by-step survival bible has... prepared [me] for anything. ... This edition’s most valuable lessons arrive in its new ‘Urban Survival’ section, which features tactics for countering espionage and dealing with urban animal attacks.” (Washington Post)
From the Back Cover
The ultimate guide to surviving anywhere, now updated with more than 100 pages of additional material, including a new chapter on urban survival
"A classic outdoor manual [that] addresses every conceivable disaster scenario. Don’t leave home without it”--Outside magazine
Revised to reflect the latest in survival knowledge and technology, and covering new topics such as urban survival and terrorism, the multimillion-copy worldwide bestseller SAS Survival Handbook by John "Lofty" Wiseman is the definitive resource for all campers, hikers, and outdoor adventurers. From basic campcraft and navigation to fear management and strategies for coping with any type of disaster, this complete course includes:
Being prepared: Understanding basic survival skills, like reading the weather, and preparation essentials, such as a pocket survival kit.
Making camp: Finding the best location, constructing the appropriate shelter, organizing camp, staying warm, and creating tools.
Food: What to eat, what to avoid, where to find it, and how to prepare it.
First aid: A comprehensive course in emergency/wilderness medicine, including how to maximize survival in any climate or when injured.
Disaster survival: How to react in the face of natural disasters and hostile situations—and how to survive if all services and supplies are cut off.
Self-defense: Arming yourself with basic hand-to-hand combat techniques.
Security: Protecting your family and property from intrusion, break-ins, and theft.
Climate & terrain: Overcoming any location, from the tropics to the poles, from the desert to the mountains and sea.
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But as is, it covers too many topics, from how to deal with computer viruses (keep your software updated, use an anti-virus program) to warnings about scurvy ('always aim for a balanced diet'). There are pages devoted to wood-boring insects. There's an illustration of a Corgi.
Worse, the book is shallow in its investigation of useful options. For emergency winter survival, it's odd to recommend an igloo (slow to make, hard to construct without a snow saw, and tough to complete in poor conditions) but to omit mention of a snow trench (fast, easy, and warm enough to shelter me on many trips), or even a snow-cave, a simple compromise.
And the information shared has no filter. A beginner has no way of parsing the laundry-list of knots to prioritize a square knot (essential) over a Killick hitch (easily replaced by more versatile alternatives); there's no mention at all of how to make an improvised harness, despite several sections on emergency climbing and rappelling. In the section in explosions, Wiseman advises ways to safely exit a building before the spread of fire, but then says 'If you are caught in an explosion in a building, then stay there until safe to do so' [sic], without further explanation.
Finally, it's unreliable. There are pure factual errors (people cannot survive 12 days without water, even in cool temperatures) and frequent mixing of good and poor advice (crossing a river in a group one behind the other is terrible, exposing each to the full force of the water, while crossing in a line facing downstream, with arms interwoven, is universally recommended).
I don't write many reviews, and even fewer poor reviews - why disparage something others enjoyed? But this is meant to be a practical book, and it sets the bar too low. Pare it down and keep the information accurate. At half the length this could be twice as valuable.
Here are links to better books on the areas discussed. I know too little about bushcraft and trapping to recommend one there - any suggestions appreciated.
For rope, climbing, and mountaineering skills,
Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills, 8th Edition
If you just want information on snow caves (another better alternative to an igloo), Ernest Wilkinson's slim book is out-of-print but easy to find:
Snow Caves for Fun and Survival
For glacier travel, crevasse rescue, and high-angle rescue in general, Andy Selter's book is remarkably efficient. A few pages go a long way on each topic:
Glacier Travel & Crevasse Rescue: Reading Glaciers, Team Travel, Crevasse Rescue Techniques, Routefinding, Expedition Skills 2nd Edition
For emergency wilderness medicine, Eric Weiss' books are the most popular, and they're fine. But I prefer Buck Tilton's, in part because I did my Wilderness EMT training with him, but also for their concise explanations. Here's his most comprehensive:
Wilderness First Responder: How To Recognize, Treat, And Prevent Emergencies In The Backcountry
Essentially any time the author talks about magnetism, electricity, static, and their phenomena, he's wrong.
One example is the author's instruction to magnetize a ferrous wire by rubbing silk against it in one direction only, so that it can be used as a compass needle. He is obviously confusing electrostatic and electromagnetic phenomena. The author does mention that the effect of silk is weak and that if you rub it with a magnet it will work better, but doesn't seem to realize that the magnetizing effect of silk (and static electricity in general) is non-existent and that if the wire works as a compass at all, it's because it is already slightly magnetized. People who have performed the experiment of magnetizing by rubbing silk say it doesn't work, and that's what physics would predict as well.
Yes, I know that many books and thousands of web pages perpetuate the same myth. The reality is that most ferrous objects get magnetized naturally simply by being in the Earth's magnetic field. One experimenter found that 75% of needles he purchased in stores would work as a compass without any effort to magnetize them. But rubbing silk (or hair, or anything else you can expect to produce a static electric field), doesn't change them.
Another example is the author's statement that wet matches are dried by placing them in your hair, because of the static electricity in your hair. Static electricity doesn't dry things, your hair absorbs the water or wicks it away.
It's almost as if someone with a scientific background told these yarns to poorly-educated survivalists just to play a trick on them.
I have a background in profesional firearms training as well as bjj/mma. Though I'll admit my survival skills are lacking, hence why I picked up this book with the current "pandemic".
I feel most people could learn more about survival by watching youtube videos than reading this book.
Top international reviews
My days of being very fit are long gone, but then the chances of me being stranded without good supplies in any sort of wilderness are also now very remote. However, the experience that I do have leads me to make one comment at least. Although in a (literally) small book such as this, space is a premium, I think the important of physical fitness was not emphasised enough. Mental aspects were covered better.
If you really are in the situations that the book tries to help about, your chances of survival are significantly enhanced by already being fit. This almost cannot be stressed enough. Once upon a time, the chances of unfit people being in such situations anyway was very small. But in the modern world with people easily able to transport themselves with modern vehicles, it's less unlikely than it used to be.
Still, for £2.99 this is a good buy and contains much interesting and useful information even if it is not likely to be used by most members of the general public.
Being prepared, equipment, survival kit / pouch, knives, facing disaster, water and how to findand obtain, climate & terrain, clothing, hunting, trapping, creating shelters, making fire, different dangers (everything from avalanches to insect bites), food including some of the most common edible and poisonous plants and mushrooms (many pages), making weapons and how to use them, handling, skinning and cooking, fishing, making fishing gear, preparing fish, camp craft, making useful utensils, preserving food, hygiene, making tools and rope, the most useful knots including fishing knots, reading the signs, map and direction finding including star navigation, making a sledge, snow shoes, travel in different terrains, making rafts, river crossing, resue, different codes including ground to air, morse etc, basic first aid, worldwide diseases, natural medicine, natural disasters.
The information in this book is potentially life saving, not only should you own this book, but you should also buy a copy for your children, and encourage them to read it also.
It contains everything from first aid, to how to predict the weather, thoroughly interesting, and contain something to captivate everyone.