There are a lot of survival books on the market today. They range from massive tomes to virtual pamphlets and from religious fanaticism to insomnia inducing academic literature. So, the question is, which books about emergency preparedness are worth reading?

Below I review a few of the better books I have come across relating to survival.

The Unthinkable Book

The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes — and Why

By Amanda Ripley

This is probably the most hope inspiring and refreshing survival book I have ever read. Far from the fear mongering you see in some books, author Amanda Ripley, motivates you by helping you understand how your body and mind react in a disaster.

She does it in a captivating manner that holds your attention throughout the book. With riveting stories and clear, easy to understand, analysis she shows you why you don’t react the way you think you might.

Ripley describes the “survival arc” that we go through when faced with an emergency. From denial to deliberation to the decisive moment, she discusses why we delay, how we calculate risk, how our body reacts to fear, and so on.

Her conclusion was helpful and, I believe for many, will be life changing.

The book is not without its problems however. She seemed to downplay the importance of supplies and emergency kits. I believe those are essential for surviving many types of disasters.

Further, in Ripley’s analysis of why we behave the way we do she often goes to evolution for explanation, completely ignoring the possibility of intelligent design. While a strict intelligent design worldview would have left a different set of unanswered questions, the absence of such analysis was simply a glaring oversight.

Overall, however, the book is an excellent treatment of the psychology and physiology of disaster survival. Highly Recommended!

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Surviving a disaster book

Surviving a Disaster: Evacuation Strategies and Emergency Kits for Staying Alive

By Tony Nester

Only 64 pages long this book is vacuum-packed with good information. It is concise, practical, and easy to read. While there is little new for those seasoned in preparedness, this is a great book for beginners.

Nester discusses creating plans and evacuation strategies for disasters that are likely in your area.  He then recommends gear you should always carry with you as well as supplies you should have in an evacuation kit that you can easily load into the car.

He stresses being ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice (he states he can have his family in the car in 15 minutes with enough gear and supplies to last a week) and gears the book toward this end.

It is not a long-term survival manual and focuses on evacuating in the face of disaster rather than staying.  However, building an evacuation kit does in fact prepare you for staying put in a disaster (at least for a short while).

The lists given in the book for assembling good quality emergency kits seem well thought through and reflect his own practices, not just some academic exercise in emergency planning.  I especially appreciate his sensible approach to what food you should put in your emergency kit.

Because of its unintimidating size and quality content, I find this book a great “starter” survival book for those unfamiliar with emergency preparedness concepts. In fact, I normally keep a couple of copies on hand to give to those who are interested, but unfamiliar, with the subject.  Highly recommended for beginners.

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