I speak frequently about the concept of seeking out “real education”, or in other words, the education that the education system rarely provides. In most cases, the best way to do this is through in-person learning with a qualified mentor, but there is still an important place for books. The titles listed below are the best survival books and guides that I have read. The ideas and instruction that have shaped my journey to escape modern American life, and become self sufficient.
(Expand Each Title Below To See Reviews and Videos)
Biographies and Autobiographies
Unlike other survival books that contain checklists and step by step instructions, Emergency is the story of Neil Strauss’ journey from “city softshell” to “bonafide survivalist”.
Beginning with his 5 major “aha” moments and continuing forward, it chronicles his experiences with emergency medicine, firearms training, tracking animals, learning to shelter, HAM radios, CERT, The Sovereign Society, becoming a second citizen, triage of mass disasters, stashing emergency caches, urban escape, and much more.
Here’s a smattering:
- His selection for survival firearms
- Hanging out with TEOTWAWKI freaks on 12/31/99 to usher in y2k.
- Conversations with Tom Brown, Kurt Saxon, and some of the fathers of survival
- Setting up his emergency compound in a foreign country
- Stashing caches on islands off the coast of California
- E&E classes with On Point Tactical
- Real emergency calls after joining CERT (including one massive train wreck)
In short, it’s all about how to become Jason Bourne.
While Emergency isn’t necessarily aiming to be a step-by-step recipe for becoming invincible, there are plenty of self-sufficiency “how-to’s” scattered throughout. And while I honestly did find every single page enjoyable (there are 414, not counting the credits), allow me to share with you 4 specific reasons that I fell in love:
1) Treasonous Honesty–As shameful as it is, prior to reading this book, I had no clue of just how many liberties the Federal Government had taken away from the American people over the last decade (That’s not really treason I guess…according to this book we have the 54th freest press in the world, so we probably still have some freedom of speech right?). This book gives an account of some of the more notable. Things like:
- The PATRIOT act-which allows the government to wiretap and search records of citizens without a warrant
- The post 9/11 “No-fly” list-which eventually grew to be over a million people
- The arrest and detainment of over 1200 people after 9/11 without a charge
- The creation of the Homeland Security department and it’s outsourcing of domestic intelligence to private contractors in order to circumvent spying laws.
2) How to become a second citizen–Another phenomenon that I was equally bewildered by prior to reading this book, is that of second citizenship. After reading however, I became aware that many U.S. citizens are exploring and/or acting on the opportunity to become second citizens of another country. This book details exactly how becoming a second citizen can lend tax and travel incentives, which countries are the most viable options for U.S. citizens, and Neil’s own efforts to gain dual citizenship.
3) The Illustrations–Ever wanted to learn how to turn a credit card into a knife that isn’t picked up by metal detectors, or how to break out of flexi-cuffs? Just follow the illustrated instructions throughout the book and you can learn both. Informative and downright entertaining, there are a total of 13 DIY comics to help you on your way. Additionally, there are a couple hundred photos scattered throughout the book (showing Neil’s firearms, bug out vehicles, solar stills, certifications, etc). Call me a kid, but I still love a good picture book.
4) Resources Galore–Throughout the book, Neil references tons (and I mean TONS) of different training programs, contacts, and books that help him along his path. Tracker school, gun training, medical certifications, and all kinds of different books that he’s read. These provide an invaluable resource to those of us on a similar path (My very next book was because of his mention).
One thing I will say, is that if Neil really did do everything that he says he did in this book (and I think he did), the guy has some seriously deep pockets. Plane tickets everywhere, gun purchases, training upon training (many of which are over $1000), flying lessons, and so much more. Maybe he’s just got an awesome agent that got him everything comped for mentions in the book–who knows. I’ll be honest, it made me feel a little like a poor kid looking longingly at the Christmas storefront, but hey, it was still incredible to hear about either way.
Love it. Hate it. Or do whatever you want. I could probably keep rambling on until you’re bored to tears, but I’ll just keep it short and end by saying that this book truly is the most enjoyable and eye-opening book I’ve read since 2007. Take that for what it’s worth. And if you do pick it up, I’d love to hear your favorite part.
Pick up Emergency at Amazon here.
(…or if you’re really bored, check out one of the very first videos I ever made, where I confessed my undying love for Emergency for 11 minutes:)
Modern Homesteading (Wranglerstar)
Last week, I was fortunate enough to score myself an advanced copy of the new Wranglerstar book, called “Modern Homesteading: Rediscovering the American Dream.”
Although I have been a subscriber of the Wranglerstar channel for a few years, there’s a lot of their story that I haven’t been familiar with. So I was really excited to dig in and hear about it.
What I found is that this book takes you behind the scenes of their YouTube channel, and gives you a really honest look at their journey–decision points, struggles, and the realities of life (i.e….money!), and the inspiration that life on your own terms is possible. While it may take significant amounts of work and heartache, it’s not out of reach.
The Wranglerstar Book Reviewed
THE MESSAGE: Anyone can homestead. Even if you live in the city, have a 9-5 job, are low on funds, or haven’t grown up with a tremendous amount of “hands-on” skill, there is still a version of homesteading that fits your situation. Find what that is, create it, and live it.
THE SUMMARY: The new Wranglerstar book gives readers a really “up close and personal” look at exactly what their family went through in their journey towards self-sufficient homesteading. As you read it, you will quickly find that they are not shy about point out their failures, their wasted time and money, or any of their other faults and shortcomings.
The book takes you through the journey of: their individual childhoods, adolescence, working years, the story of how they met/dated/married, their newlywed urban life, decision to homestead, and the transition to get there.
At the end of each chapter, there are also a few pages of what they call “Wisdom From the Journey”, as well as explanations of practical, hands-on skills. This makes for a nice balance between narrative and How-To.
MY FAVORITE PARTS: I really loved how Mrs. Wranglerstar was the primary narrator of the book, since we typically see and hear more from Cody on the YouTube channel. As a fairly new dad myself, I loved the details about their son Jack, and the efforts that they have gone through to involve him on their homestead. I liked how they shared all the details of getting their land–what a saga!!
WHO IT ISN’T FOR: People that can’t handle references to God or spirituality. The Wranglerstar family is a faith-filled, Christian family. This journey, has really been a journey of their faith. Through their journey, they have paradoxically found that the more they relied on God, the more “self-reliant” they became. I really enjoy this element to their story, but if this is upsetting to you, it’s not the book for you.
Big thanks to the entire Wranglerstar fam and their publishers for all their hard work on this one!here:
Get your copy of Modern Homesteading: Rediscovering the American Dream here.
Better Off is the story of an academic east coast couple that decides to go without electricity for a year.
To do this, they relocate to an Anabaptist community they refer to as the “Minimites” (like the Amish or Mennonites but more hardcore in their rejection of progress). There they live and work the land, forgoing conveniences like:
- running water
- electric lights
- air conditioning
- raising crops
- handling livestock
- preserving food via canning and drying
- simple construction
After having 1776 for over a year, I finally dug in and read it. GREAT BOOK!
In fact, one of my major complaints is that it only covered the year 1776! I felt like things were just getting warmed up as the book ended.
Took me about a week and a half (maybe 3 hours total). Eye opening on a couple different levels.
Order 1776 from Amazon here.
Watch my video book review of 1776 here:
Bug Out Vehicles And Shelters
Just read Bug Out Vehicles And Shelters by Scott Williams.
Wanted to take a few minutes and share my thoughts for you in a video book review.
Big thanks to Scott Williams and the folks at Ulysses Press for their work on this! You can check out more of Scott’s books and regular updates on his blog Bug-Out Survival.
Order Bug Out Vehicles and Shelters here.
The Prepper's Pocket Guide
I recently got my hands on a copy of The Prepper’s Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do To Ready Your Home For A Disaster. The book is written by Bernie Carr, editor of the Apartment Prepper website, so the whole thing is very “money and space conscious.”
It’s 202 pages are broken into 8 chapters (each with their own subsections):
- Getting Started
- Financial Readiness
- Water Needs
- Food Supplies
- Ready Your Home
- Personal Health and Safety
- When the Power is Out
- When You Have to Get Out
What this book IS:
- Great review material for veteran survivalists
- Good launch point for new preppers
- Great gift idea for kids heading off to college
- Full of ideas for food preps (gardening, canning, storage, rotation)
- Full of ideas for readying the home
- “Hunker down” survival (a.k.a. sheltering in place)
What this book is NOT:
- “Tough Guy Survival” no tactical, SOP, or military field ops here
- Zombie survival
- Apocolyptist survival
- Tin foil hat theories
- Bug out survival
- Wilderness Survival
- An emergency medicine guide
Great material. Great layout. Pick up your copy at Amazon here.
Off The Grid Homes
Even though I’m cooling my heels in the Boston Marriott, I wanted to make a quick prepisode about the book “Off The Grid Homes.”
Although I used it as my in-flight reading for this trip, it’s essentially a coffee table book for preppers–tons of pictures, and light on copy.
It explores the solutions that 6 homes across the globe used to achieve the off-grid goals of alternative energy, water collection, and sustainable architectural design.
What it is:
- full of good pictures
- a rolodex of good consultants and contractors to help with your project (in the appendix)
- inspiration for your own off grid project
What it isn’t:
- a DIY manual
- written to be conversational (i.e. they went out of their way to use big words and vague fluff phrases)
I have to say that my favorite parts of the book are the “break out” sections in each chapter, which teach in greater detail the principles behind each off grid technology. In addition to these, there are also info pages at the end of each chapter, recapping the materials and technologies used for each house.
If you’re looking for something interesting for the coffee table, the bathroom, or a gift for a prepper–this is it! Get your copy here.
Prepper's Home Defense
Recently finished reading the book Prepper’s Home Defense by Jim Cobb.
REALLY good book!
It covers several topics related to security that a prepper would want to be aware of, including things like:
- Operation security
- Perimeter defense
- Structure hardening
- Hand to hand combat
- Guard dogs
- Safe rooms
- Hidden storage
- MUCH more!
In particular, I really liked:
- The organization-Sections, chapters and sub-sections. You guys know I love my organization!
- The “realness”-Even though this book is written for long-term, post-apocalyptic security, you’re not going to get a bunch of Red Dawn fantasies blown up your skirt. It’s a nuts and bolts look at where the average prepper will get the most ROI (Return On Investment) on their money.
- Detail sections written by expert guests-Every few pages, there are little breakout boxes separated from the text with a little more detail on the topic at hand. These are written by guest authors with considerable background in their field, and go through some of the finer points for those who want it. I read every single one.
I really enjoyed this book, and it will be one that I go back through often. I score it a 94/100!
Snag your own copy here and let me know what you think!
Last week I finished Cody Lundin’s 98.6: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive.
While this isn’t an “urban survival” book (strictly speaking), it is loaded with good information that you will need to know in ANY survival situation.
What it Is:
- Short–215 pages (I lied and said it was 212 in the video)
- Focused on “lost hiker” wilderness survival
- Filled with good illustrations and photos
- Heavy on principles and whys
- A good reminder that thermo-regulation is more important than water and DEFINITELY more important than food.
- Full of good suggestions for multi-purpose, “bang for your buck” gear.
What it isn’t:
- Ultra fast paced
- Full of dialogue
- A resource for the latest tactical gear
- About killing bad guys
- About escaping the city
- About monetary or social collapse.
If you’re anything like me, the book queue is long and ever growing. So many good reads and so little time. But definitely at least worth picking up a used copy at a local library or online. Cody is a wealth of knowledge on all things survival.
For crying out loud, the guy lived in a yurt for 2 years–learn from him.
Pick up your copy of 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive here.
The Prepper Next Door
I’ve actually had The Prepper Next Door for quite a while (like 4 months quite a while), but just finished it the other day.
To be completely honest with you guys, It has some issues, most of which could probably be summed up in a couple words: poor editing. Within it’s 300 pages, there are:
- spelling errors
- punctuation errors
- tangents (many)
And above and beyond these “baseline” issues, it’s lacking other things that aren’t absolutely necessary, but they would definitely contribute to an overall “better reader experience”, like:
- Bullet point quick lists
- Diagrams, charts, and other graphics
Having said all that however, there are still some things I really liked about the book. To name a couple:
- Charlie views prepping in largely the same way I do–it should be REAL. The world is made up of real people, doing real things, with kids, jobs, bills, emotions, pets, and a limited budget. If you can’t take steps to prepare within the framework of the “real” life you lead, you will likely not do anything at all.
- A ton (and I mean A TON) of resources for more info in the form of YouTube channels and websites. I think a lot of non-fiction almost tries to pretend the internet doesn’t exist, or isn’t an authority in any way, but the reality is that the internet has become the ULTIMATE authority in all our lives. This book gives you a lot of resources for further investigation. Hat tips on that.
The book is broken up into 14 sections:
- Let Me Breath The Air
- Water: The Tonic of Life
- The Prepper Porta Potty Or Survivalist Sanitation
- Let There Be A Lot Of Light
- Oh, My Aching Head (First Aid)
- Personal And Home Defense
- Of Fireblocking And Basements (The Prepper’s Home)
- Getting In Touch With Your Inner Hoarder
- Your Bug Out Bag
- Rescue Bag
- Road Warrior Or Road Trip (Your Bug Out Vehicle)
- Not Everybody’s Cut Out To Raise Chickens
With the exception of roughly 30 pages, I read the entire thing, and in particular enjoyed the chapters about sanitation (The Prepper Porta Potty), and defense (Personal and Home Defense). I feel like both chapters gave great advice about real down to earth practical stuff. Let’s be honest, there are a lot more videos about guns and gardening out there then there are about where to take a crap when there’s no running water.
Overall, if I were gonna give this book a score, I’d probably give it a 78/100. There are issues that make the book distracting and boring, but if you can look past that, there is still some really good information.
Check out my video review of The Prepper Next Door, or order your copy from Amazon here.
299 Days Books
For those of you not familiar, 299 Days is a series of 10 books written by Glen Tate, about the collapse of the United States. And at long last, I FINALLY read the first book, The Preparation. Loved it!
“The Preparation” chronicles the life and career of a man named Grant, who takes a departure from his self-sufficient roots somewhere in his late teens and early 20’s. He graduates college, and works a comfortable job. He gets married and moves to the burbs. Life is perfect right?
But under the surface, he can’t ignore the signs that the “perfect life” that he and so many others are living, isn’t sustainable. Through a series of events, he is awakened from his brainwashed, out-of-shape, surburbanite torpor, and begins to
take back control of his life.
This storyline alone is something that lots of us can relate to. Whether we grew up farming and hunting or not, most of us can describe moments in life when we realized that the life people brought us up to believe was ideal, is actually wildly unsustainable.
In contrast to many of the “End-of-the-world” type scenarios depicted by other post-apocalyptic novels out there, Glen’s books describe a slow, partial collapse.
Personally I find this scenario to be much more believable, because frankly, we’re already in it. Everyday there are more and more indicators that we have already reached a point of “no-return”, in our economic and monetary policies, in the over-extension of our government, in our education, and 100 other ways.
Even if we only MAINTAIN the same trajectory that we’re currently on, we will see escalating signs of “collapse” all the time.
Along these lines, one of the things that really impressed me about this book, was the detail with which it describes the breakdown. Tiny little decisions that just nudge the snowball a little bit more. New legislation enacted. Micro market changes. Downturns. It actually reminded me a lot of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” in that way.
The 299 Days Book Series Is Autobiographical
But here’s where things get really interesting with the 299 Days book series: It’s autobiographical.
That’s right. In real life, Glen Tate has worked in and around government for much of his professional career. This gives him a front row seat to the mindset, the unsustainability, and what might otherwise be considered “privileged information.”
In the story, the character’s name is “Grant”, but it’s really Glen’s experiences.
Here’s what else is gnarly:
Glen Tate is not really the author’s name. Because of the expository nature of the 299 Days series, these books are published under a pen name.
One other final note about the books is that they actually wouldn’t be in existence if it weren’t for Glen’s interaction with (and inspiration from) The Survival Podcast. Much of the motivation for Glen to write the story was through the encouragement of folks on The Survival Podcast forums. And as an added “easter egg” bonus, Glen actually uses many of the moderators and regulars on the TSP forum as characters that appear in the books. Very cool! (Glen has done several audio interviews with Jack Spirko on The Survival Podcast which you can check out here.)
If this sounds up your alley, you can check out Glen’s books here.
As always folks, here’s what it boils down to: Take a real assessment of the threats that you face. Store some supplies that can sustain the basics of life. Learn and practice skills that can keep you alive. And then, KEEP LIVING YOUR LIFE. Don’t sacrifice the people or hobbies that make it beautiful because the sky may fall someday.
My Interview With Glen Tate
Today I’m joined by 299 Days book series author Glen Tate, for a power hour (almost) of goodness.
Here is the playlist:
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Glen or the series, there are a handful of really cool things that you need to know. Allow me to enlighten you:
- 299 Days is a 10 novel series about the collapse of the United States.
- The background and characters are autobiographical in nature. In other words, Glen wrote the series based around his own life, family, friends, and surroundings….except that…
- “Glen Tate” isn’t really the author’s name at all. It’s actually just a pen name that he writes the series under, because…
- Glen is a government employee, who works in the Washington State Capital building. Because the books focus heavily on the ineptness of the government (and sometimes downright malice), he maintains a private identity.
- One of the other really interesting components of Glen’s story (in real life) is the fact that his wife was largely opposed to preparedness. Accordingly, her character in the novels is portrayed the same way. This is something that many of us can relate to. An even more fascinating component of these books, is that Glen actually wrote all 10 without his wife knowing!
- These books are EXTREMELY well written, and describe what I feel to be a very realistic, slow and gradual collapse of the United States. Glen’s books remind me a lot of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” in the way that they describe the unwinding process.
Join us today as we discuss how the books came about, how he broke the news of the books to his wife (and the part that she played in them), where he sees preppers going wrong, and much more!
Big thanks to Glen for spending some time with me, and the folks at Prepper Press for bringing his awesome novels to life!
One Second After
A couple months ago, I got the book One Second After, by William R. Forstchen, as a gift from a friend and fellow prepper.
With all the chaos over the last couple months, it took me a while to really get into it, but I finally finished it on my plane ride back from Nicaragua.
The book is essentially about the hypothetical effects of an EMP attack on the United States. There are a lot of really cool things about it, but I think the biggest thing I liked about it is that it got me asking questions.
Things I liked about it:
- Raises some great medical issues
- Martial law issues
- “Ugly” Survival Issues (eating your pets for food, etc.)
- Talks in detail about the process of rebuilding
- Main characters aren’t immune from death
The Biggest Con:
- One big “battle” part that’s a little farfetched at the end IMO (and it doesn’t even describe any of it, just skips to the aftermath)
Wanna read it?
Order One Second After from Amazon here.
(or check out my video review below)
My friend Scott Williams is in the novel game with his latest book The Pulse: A Novel of Surviving The Collapse of The Grid.
I just finished reading it, and really enjoyed it. In this video, I give you just a few of the reasons why.
Wanna read it? Order your copy of The Pulse from Amazon here.
Could we really be punished for our thoughts?
Could we truly be empowering a govenment that takes away our very “inalienable rights?”
In his masterpiece 1984, George Orwell paints an interesting picture of just such a society, and gives us a haunting glimpse of where we could be headed.
In the world of Oceania, people can only drink disgusting gin, are constantly being monitored through “telescreens”, never marry, and surrender their complete obedience to the whims of Big Brother.
History books are re-written, the dictionary is re-written–the very rules of life are re-written.
But what happens when one man decides to keep a secret?
In the face of enormous opposition, is it possible to hang on to the most “human” emotions, appetites and passions?
Or will he find out that those emotions, appetites and passions really weren’t inherently human afterall? Is it possible to take the “human” out of man?
Get the book, aind out here.
(or you can watch my video review from a time when I still had hair lol)
Life As We Knew It
Could a young adult novel teach you anything about prepping? That’s the question I asked myself prior to diving in the book Life As We Knew It.
Set in the not so distant future, this 335 page novel is a compilation of journal entries from a teenage girl, before, during, and after a world-changing SHTF event.
Without giving too much away, life is completely changed forever when events affecting the moon cause tidal changes and a slew of other natural disasters.
The characters in the book are forced to address the survival issues of:
- health and emergency medicine
I think this book is particularly relevant for young adult aged children. It does a great job of not only bringing up prepping topics, but also touching on everyday normal, teenage stuff: friends, crushes, doubts and fears, fights with parents, etc.
If you have kids, you should be able to talk to them about prepping (and any topic for that matter), whether you have a book to help you out or not. Even so, it could be a good tool to help you out if you’re looking to “set the table” for prep related conversation.
Hope you enjoy!
Get your copy of Life As We Knew It here.
Jake And Miller's Big Adventure
Tonight my daughter Penny and I read a cool little prepping bedtime story, called “Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure.” The book is written by my friend Bernie Carr, and I think it’s FANTASTIC..
I have to say this is the first kid’s “prepping book” I’ve ever seen (if you can call it that), so kudos to her for being unique.
The book is essentially about a young boy named Jake and his dog Miller, and their preparations for a big adventure that they are getting ready to take. They go through food, water, shelter and warmth, and other preparations that they are going to need.
In particular, there are a couple things that I really like about this book:
- The illustrations are great! I can being a kid, and getting so excited about all the books with cool pictures. In fact, to this day, there are still many pictures from books that I can still remember. My daughter really liked pointing at them all (Hat tips to Aja Wells the illustrator!)
- Additionally, I think book is good for parents. In many cases, parents will probably be the ones reading this book to their kids, so I can see it serving as a gentle reminder to the parents about planning ahead.
Anyway, I won’t say too much more about it, but if you have young ones around your house that are starting to enjoy books, this would be a fun book for them, and a great way to introduce some general ideas about being prepared.
Great job Bernie!
Get your copy of Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure here.