Book Review: SAS Survival Guide


John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman’s 1986 classic remains the most competent and complete guide to survival strategy available in book format to date. The 384 page text covers every conceivable contingency faced by the unfortunate entrant into the otherwise unthinkable.

Written from the perspective of a well-trained special operator, the SAS Survival Handbook is unique in that the overall presentation is easily accessible to anyone with even a general interest in survival thought and tactics. Conventionally delivered from an unconventional perspective, John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman has developed a credible genre of work with numerous companion guides that cover urban survival, self-defense, and the always useful ‘Driver’s Survival Handbook’ in an equally successful format.

The 11-chapter SAS Survival Handbook is intricately crafted to cover diverse subjects such as Essentials, Strategy, Climate and Terrain, Food, Camp Craft, ‘Reading the Signs,’ First Aid, Survival at Sea, Rescue, and Disasters. Although Wiseman lends his experience and know-how to a healthy helping of subject matter, the text is neither tedious nor mind-numbing in its final delivery. Each chapter is backed with a useful military style illustrations and figure identification that adequately examines each outlined procedure.

John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman’s British Special Air Service background is constantly validated as the text indicates a high level of intricate know-how and experienced-based survival strategies.

The book discusses both likely and perhaps unlikely survival scenarios in great detail. Each trap or snare described sees the authors’ obvious first hand knowledge of the hunger avoidance 101. Although the threat of nuclear attack has subsided over the years, the majority of the population would do well to study Wiseman’s take on the best measures available to survive such a malady.

The pricing of the book has varied over its long history in print. A copy can currently be purchased from anywhere between $13.00 and $15.00 online. The book’s vast distribution has seen made available in just about every Public Library system to download via PDF format. Print editions have seen the cover design go from the original simple red/white color scheme to the current camouflage art available with the text.

While government produced armed forces survival guide such as the US Army’s Survival Manual FM 21-76, and and the US Air Force survival guide elicit very useful techniques for disaster negotiation; The SAS Survival Guide is as comprehensive as it gets.

The author’s bio reads like what you would expect from a well trained operative. John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman was youngest to ever pass the British military’s SAS course at 18 years of age. He also boasts 26 years of continuous service and a retirement at the rank of Sergeant Major. John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman currently stands as one of the world’s foremost authorities on survival skills and training.

By and large the Harper-Collins production remains steadfast against the large number of survival related material available on the market today. No doubt this is a true testament to the quality, usefulness, and timeless relevance of the highly popular text.