The Basic Essentials guide “Survival” by James E. Churchill is just that, a basic guide on survival. It’s a short book of seventy-one pages, with the last two being the index. The author, a former game warden and author of five other books on trapping and hunting does a good job of presenting basic survival information in an easy accessible fashion. Sure, there are many other books on the market that are larger and contain much more information, but if you are looking for the basic essentials, this short read contains some decent information on the skills needed if you find yourself stranded in the woods. I really like that he started the book out with a short introduction that says the most important ingredient for a survival situation is your reasoning ability and attitude. This is so true.
The book has eight short chapters. The first is on making a fire. The text provides information on fire starters, tinder and firewood. Primitive methods of starting a fire are looked at, but I think a person would be much better suited to follow the author’s advice to never go into a wilderness area without some means of starting a fire.
The second chapter is on finding the right direction. Again, he tells you not to go into the woods without a compass, but also shows alternate ways of determining direction. There are complete books on this and land navigation, but for a simple guide, the few pages here provide good basics.
A few simple ways to find water and food are found in the next two chapters. These methods are not as simple as they appear in guides such as this, so I’d advise everyone to go out and practice these skills, as well as those found in other chapters and other resources to become proficient enough to save your life if you ever face a real survival situation. Having just read this book most likely won’t be enough if you ever need it. Practicing the skills is the key to being able to save yourself and loved ones in emergency situations.
The next chapters contain information on building a survival camp and then signaling for help. Often your best bet is to stay put and wait for rescue. However, sometimes you must self-rescue and that might mean walking out. The seventh chapter addresses this and provides a few tips. The final chapter is only two pages long and has a few words on making a raft and getting out by river.
There is additional information in the appendixes which include some surface to air signals, basic survival gear, outdoor first aid kits, and ten steps for survival. Overall, it is not a bad little book, but it is very, very basic and there are many more considerations for a survival situation. It’s a quick read, so why not read it. However, I’d suggest getting a more complete book on survival as well, and then practice the skills some if you plan on spending time in the wilderness.