Tag Archives: survival

The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide

The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide

(c) 2013 by Creek Stewart.  Published by Living Ready Books

Rating:  * * * *

With frequent references to the materials Katniss and the other characters in The Hunger Games use to survive, this book provides the reader with an overview of survival techniques using the resources at hand to build shelters, find and purify water, forage for food, navigate, perform first aid, etc.

I really like this book because I expect it will grab the attention of readers who would not otherwise pick up an outdoors book. Each section is quick to read, full of references to the trilogy of books with which the author is clearly familiar, and contains photos for illustration.  While not exhaustive, the book goes into enough detail to spur interest in exploring the survival techniques further.

The author stresses that while The Hunger Games aren’t real, occurrences like getting lost while hiking or car breakdowns on rural roads – outside cell phone coverage areas – are.  A little knowledge can go a long way in preventing hypothermia and other adverse outcomes.

Advertisements

Death on the Barrens

Barrens

Death on the Barrens:  A True Story of Courage and Tragedy in the Canadian Arctic

by George James Grinnell

First published January 1, 2009 by North Atlantic Books

Rating:  * * *

The author, one of six young men on an ill-advised, poorly planned Arctic trip in the 1950s resulting in the death of the trip leader, recounts the experience from the distance of 50 years.

This is a memoir, not an autobiography.  Rather than focusing on the events of the trip, the book is about the participants:  their hubris, expectations, hopes, fears, anxieties, and reactions to the changing conditions throughout the journey.  As should be expected, the author’s experience is front and center, with descriptions of the other participants adding context.  Grinnell strays into rants from time to time, but since the chapters are all quite short it’s easy to move on.

This is a quick read that will leave you shaking your head.  I recommend reading it.

If you like this book, you may also like Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer.

Badluck Way

Badluck Way:  A Year on the Ragged Edge of the west by Bryce Andrews

Publish Date:  January 7, 2014

Rating:  * * *

“A memoir of Montana”

The stunning photography first drew me to this book.  The landscape is harsh and beautiful.  The same could be said for the lifestyle on a working ranch, as the author learns.  This book captures the idealism of youth as it meets the practicalities of ranching.  It provides an interesting glimpse into the daily chores and routine on a working spread, which includes working around the demands of both livestock and predators.

Wolves are a large part of this story.  The Sun Ranch was devoted to conservation and sustainable use, in contrast to some of its neighbors at the time, which could cause friction particularly when the wolves recently re-introduced to nearby Yellowstone Park migrated to ranching country.  The author learns that although conservation and ranching are not mutually exclusive, the balance is delicate.

I received an advance reader copy through NetGalley.

Phoenix Island

Phoenix Island by John Dixon

Publish Date:  January 21, 2014

Rating:  * * * *

Lord of the Flies meets The Brotherhood of the Rose meets Dead Poets Society

This is a chilling story of survival and humanity.  Chilling because humans are capable of doing terrible things to each other.  Survival because in order to survive, sometimes humans become inhuman.  Humanity because humans are capable of rescuing each other and upholding each other’s safety, dignity, and sanity.

Carl Freeman, sentenced to 2 years at the Phoenix Island boot camp for juvenile offenders due to fighting one too many bullies, soon learns the judge was unwittingly correct about it being a “terminal” stop:  kids die on Phoenix Island.  Even more terrifying is that nobody on the outside knows or cares because everyone on the island is an orphan.

Carl finds that on Phoenix Island bullying is often rewarded.  He learns that conformity would be easy, but maintaining one’s own identity and morality is both difficult and dangerous.  He learns that friendship is both painful and necessary.  He learns that contingencies, interpretations, could have turned his life into something entirely different.  He learns that he needs to follow his own code of ethics, regardless of the cost to himself.  Ironically, the island ultimately teaches him exactly what the court system wanted him to learn (albeit in a manner the court hopefully would not have sanctioned):  to control his own behavior.

This is a difficult book, but an affirming one.

I received an advance reader copy through NetGalley.

The Last Savanna

The Last Savanna by Mike Bond

Rating:  *

Ian MacAdam, a white man who has lived most of his adult life in Kenya, joins a group to hunt down ivory poachers.  Learning that the poachers have kidnapped an archaeologist with whom he had been involved several years prior, he strives to save her as well as capture the poachers.  Meanwhile, the poachers’ story – their clan relationships, the circumstances that led them to poaching, what they hope to gain – is told in alternating chapters.

Bond touches on the “beauty of [Africa’s] perilous deserts, jungles, and savannas” (from the publisher’s description).  The poachers and their pursuers travel vast distances through a multitude of ecosystems, encountering wildlife as varied as hyenas, elephants, and scorpions.  And don’t forget the domesticated camels.  These elements are fascinating.

Despite that, I did not enjoy this book.  The publisher indicates this is a story of “the deep, abiding power of love.”  I find no indication of abiding love, or in fact even fleeting love.  Instead, it’s a story of men squabbling over women they want to own; jealousy that the other might be the first to rape a woman of the wrong skin color; and the ingrained belief that women are entirely evil and that their only worth is in providing service and children to men.  The two women in this book (Dottie, MacAdam’s wife; and Rebecca, MacAdam’s mistress) bow to the narrative of the men in this book.  MacAdam views the poacher-hunting as a way to re-capture love (or perhaps purpose) in his life, but to do so he spurns his wife who has begged him to re-engage with her.

Slap any label on it that you wish:  freedom, religion, the urge to live life to the fullest.  In the end, it boils down to pure selfishness.

I received an advance reader copy through NetGalley.

%d bloggers like this: