It should be noted that most books on survivalism are written for entertainment purposes. Those that are not written for entertainment tend to focus on short term survival. There are also very few experts when it comes to survivalism. Yes, there are those few people that have spent time living in the wilderness, and there are a few exceptional accounts from people who have spent years surviving on their own in war zones, but most of these accounts have little relationship to what Americans would face if something dire should happen here. Remember, real survival situations tend to be few and far between. The more survival situations that one is thrown into the less likely it is that a person will survive. So while many people study survivalism and even put what they’ve learned to good use on an educational basis, the term “survival expert” could be more accurately change to “survival scholar.”
There is no such thing as a complete book on survivalism. Such a volume would be thousands of pages long and almost unreadable. Survivalism is a life long pursuit that requires a tremendous amount of dedication and knowledge. No single person has ever put together a truly comprehensive survival guide and it is unlikely that they ever will.
That being said, here are a few books that are worth reading:
How to Survive the End of the World as We Know it – Jeffrey Rawles
Jeffrey Rawles is probably the most the best known survivalist in the world, mostly because he writes entertaining fiction. Rawles also runs a very good blog on survivalism. He tends to take the doomsday approach to things, which makes for entertaining reading. This book includes much more useful information than his usual writings and I can highly recommend it.
SAS Survival Handbook
Most survivalists are already familiar with this handbook and its American counterparts. I can recommend it for its simple and proven techniques for surviving a variety of situations. However, like most of these manuals it focuses on short term survival.
Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Family Safe in a Crisis – Peggy Layton
This is one of the best titles written on emergency food storage. Ms. Layton is a graduate of Brigham Youn University. It should be noted that the Mormons are probably America’s foremost survivalists. The best information I have found on food storage was provided by a Mormon church, and Ms. Layton a fine job of taking that information one step further.
When Technology Fails – Matthew Stein
Another title about short term survival, Stein covers a few issues that aren’t common to other survival books and also approaches a few common problems in novel ways.
Surviving the Economic Collapse – Ferando Feral Aquirre
Aquirre covers the economic collapse of Argentina. This is one of the best books on the subject of economic collpse a is extremely useful for understanding what an economic collapse entails and how people can go about preparing for it. Aquirre takes a practical approach to things without the usual blustering. However, his experiences in Argentina, while useful, are not necessary equivalent to what citizens of the United States would endure. He also takes a few approaches to survival that I consider questionable. That being said, this is a great book and very descriptive.
Tappan on Survival – Mel Tappan
A classic work on survivalism, Tappan was one of the first survivalist writers to reach a wide audience. He is very much part of the bug out and stay out crowd, recommending that readers seek to find wilderness tracts of land to create survival abodes for away from society. While that sounds good in theory (and possible for some), his thoughts reflect those of a wealthy man or someone who has an immense amount of time to make preparations. That being said, I recommend this book because in some ways it represents the ideal, and everyone needs some sort unreachable vision.
The Survivor’s Club – Ben Sherwood
An excellent book describes why it is that some people survive while others do not. Reading this book will help survivalists come to terms with reality and help them identify appropriate actions should they encounter dire circumstances.
Field Guide to Wilderness Medicine – Eric Weiss
This manual will be a little too advanced for most users but it provides a massive amount of information in a portable tome. I can recommend this title simply for understanding what is going on with the human body. If you are an EMT, nurse, or physician, this title is a must have.
Combat Medic Field Reference – US Army
This manual was written for military medics. It has a slew of information but expects that the reader has a modicum of training. I can highly recommend this book to anyone…but it is most valuable to someone with is already at least partially trained.
The Field Guide of Wilderness and Rescue Medicine – Jim Morrissey
Likely the best small book ever written on field medicine, this book should be on every survivalists shelf. Not only will it aid you
in dealing with your own medical problems, it will go far in helping you deal with others who have been seriously injured.
In the Gravest Extreme: The Role of the Firearm in Personal Protection – Massad Ayoob
One of the best books ever written on the use of firearms in self-defense, Massad Ayoob makes it a point to bring the realities
of lethal force to the forefront of reader’s minds.
Making the Best of Basics, Family Preparedness Handbook – James Talmage Stevens
This title offers a lot of information about in-home preparation. More importantly, it has a large appendix stuffed full of useful resources.
The SAS Urban Survival Handbook – John Wiseman
Not exactly the military standard that that the title proclaims, this book is nonetheless a decent starting point for the urban survivalist.
Unfortunately, there just aren’t a lot of good book on urban survival, with the more modern ones being marketed as entertainment rather than informative.
US Military Survival Manuals
These manuals cover many basic scenarios but are generally lacking in long term solutions. They can, however, be readily found for free online.