Jesse Mathewson – Review Editor
No matter how much you plan, how many times you run the numbers, look at the variables or weigh the odds there is no reasonable way you can prepare for every scenario. And regardless your preparations, training, defenses and approaches there will always be someone or something that can overcome it. What matters more than objects, training and ones approach or beliefs is the simple reality that the ability to adapt is key to surviving in ANY situation that is outside the normal day to day.
This is why I am suggesting the following list of books as the most important ones you can read and absorb, not just own and have on a shelf, but actually read and understand them.
These books have been a great help to myself in my approach to being prepared physically and especially mentally. Your list may vary, however, I doubt the argument can be made that the idea behind my choices is not a sound one. Be fluid in your approach with life, rigid thinking, only one approach, my way or the highway; these are quite easily the fastest ways to bring harm to yourself and your loved ones. Adaptation is key to survival in any scenario, always. Everything else is secondary, though still extremely important, train (absolutely), gather supplies, build fortifications and more, but unless you can mentally adapt in a split second, the reality is, you will suffer as a result.
Sun Tsu “The Art of War” digitally it is available for free via many outlets, it can be easily downloaded in pdf form and printed. I recommend the following translations as being the best and easiest to understand. Lionel Giles (available in print for a price, or available for free download) Thomas Cleary’s translation and lastly Gagliardi’s translation. The first two are well done, and have selected translations of a variety of other contributors to Sun Tsu’s texts. It is in my strict opinion one of the best if not the keystone of practical tactics. It has been used for dozens of (self-help)books and is used in every major military school worldwide. What I have learned from it is simple, adapt, always adapt. Planning is key to victory, more importantly is the ability to utilize the five factors of war/life. The moral law, heaven, earth, commander, method and discipline. I highly suggest reading this and applying it whenever possible.
Machiavelli’s “The Prince” again, digitally available for free, this tome was written by a gentleman whose very name is defined as someone who is scheming, cunning and unscrupulous. The book itself outlines the “principles of power”, and more importantly explains how and why government and modern leadership regardless name given to them, socialist, democratic, republican, dictatorship, communist and any of the other approaches used. More importantly when applied it shows almost exactly how and why things occur as a result of or a lack of government interference. Quite literally one of the most important books on the philosophy of man and his relationship to government and rulers, as well as why the rulers do what they do. Essential when planning for or prepping for potential disasters as most if not all disasters can be attributed to government in some form. Even natural events that cause havoc within populated areas, the havoc is almost always a result of government intervention. Think Katrina, recent flooding and more. Private citizens helped, it was not until government “intervened” and removed the ability of private citizens to help or defend themselves that problems became glaringly apparent.
A book on edible and useful flora and fauna (plants and animals) in the area where you reside. For myself, the Delena Tull book on the Southwest (Texas, New Mexico, Arizona etc.,) but make sure you find the one that has either the best reviews or is the best for your area. Especially if you live where there are plants that are quite similar but have drastically different uses and affects on a human.
Foxfire 1-3 at a bare minimum, the entire 12 volume series if you can afford the weight and money. You will never find a better series of first hand approaches to bush-crafting, wilderness living and backwoods home-crafts. (Yes this technically puts us over the 6 book limit)
The Survival Medicine Handbook (Joe Alton MD – another contributor) my one recommendation is that you take the time, money and effort now regardless your abilities to learn hands on with one of the solid schools being taught at this time with regards to survival medicine, eg., Patriot Nurse or something similar. While the book is amazing, and definitely must have, hands on learning with this in advance is essential.
Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat (MD Creekmore) honestly, I have read dozens of “survival” books from the infamous Rawles through “Ex Navy Seals” and the SAS handbook…I gave all of them away, except this one. Simply because, it is practical, logical and extremely well put together. While the grid remains, you can also ask him directly via his website without getting charged $100 a minute for a 900 phone call like others tend to do. (slight exaggeration but, lets be honest, if you have thousands or millions in disposable income, why are you even reading a budget preppers blog, except that you understand the great value in saving money!)
Honorable mentions and books I have in my truck/ trailer kit also include several sets of classic books, Dickens, Doyle, Stevenson, Carroll and for non-fiction I also have Off Grid and Free: My Path to the Wilderness by Ron Melchiore which I recently ordered and completed and really enjoyed! Here is the thing, I have most of these in digital AND paper format. As I carry Kindle Paper’s/ solar panel- generator(with Faraday caged backups of all these times two) pre-loaded with these books and a few thousand more for just enjoying myself reading, (reading levels ranging from first grade through collegiate.) In addition I try to keep a full set of educational books, english, math, science, etc., as well on the kindle. There may come a time when rebuilding is essential, and education is the difference between another dark ages and a bright future.
What are your thoughts and why? Remember, these are my choices, some of you may prefer military textbooks, however, I am a civilian, and like most Americans, I cannot hump 20 lbs 20 miles let alone 60 or 120. There are ways however, to overcome the differences in physical ability and these include using ones head. Hence my selections and why.
Free the mind and the body will follow