100 Deadly Skills: Survival Edition: The SEAL Operative’s Guide by Clint Emerson
First of all, note that the skills advertised in the book are deadly--but not for the reasons you might think. The skills documented here are not actually intended to kill anyone; rather, they are designed to keep you alive. The author, Clint Emerson, is a retired Navy SEAL who specializes in security. He was even on the elite SEAL Team Six.
If you know any SEALs, or have read about their training, then you know they are the toughest of the tough. In other words, these 100 Deadly Skills are not the theories of some guy sitting at a desk--they are methods used by the author in deadly serious circumstances.
Clint makes it clear right off the bat that your own preparation is the key:
"The only elements of crisis under our control are our own preparation and response."
When I read that, I immediately thought of the famous Douglas MacArthur adage, "Preparation is the Key to Success and Victory.") So, while the points are termed "Skills," they are just as much about preparation.
You might be tempted to dismiss the ideas here as too extreme, or even silly. I did NOT think the ideas were silly (well, okay, I skipped #14, "Escaping a Wild Boar Attack,) Of course, many of the ideas won't apply to many people. If you don't take cruises, you can also skip #44, "Defend a Ship against Pirates."
Some of the ideas, however, hit close to home, and really got me thinking. Idea #3, "Prepare a Vehicle Go-Bag" suggests you have a personal survival kit in my car: "Gather everyday carry items that promote safety and survival...A basement full of emergency supplies is an excellent starting point for disaster preparation, but the trunk of your car is an underutilized resource." I thought the points in this sections were excellent. Why not put my car trunk to good use?
Each of the 100 Skills includes a discussion of the concept, detailed, instructions, and illustrations. For each deadly idea, there is alsoa succinct summary of the points.
For example, here's the summary for # 22 "Locate Drinking Water in an Arid Desert."
Follow the signs of water.
Get to high ground, carefully observe surroundings.
Locate dry streams and Locate animals and river-beds: dig for water. their tracks.
Locate vegetation: water loving, broad-leaved plants and trees.
Look for swarms of flies, mosquitos, and bees.
Dig in dry riverbeds and under vegetation.
I found these summary points to be a valuable wrap-up of each idea.
To make my reading more efficient, I found it most useful to scan the Table of Contents for ideas that are relevant to me. So, for example, I skipped #14, "Escape a Wild Boar Attack." I hardly ever see wild boars in San Francisco. And honestly, I seriously doubt I could skin and eat a snake (Idea #24, "Skin from head to tail. Cook thoroughly.") But others, I spent a lot of time studying--like the ones about home security and home invasions.
Just about everyone can benefit from the deadly skills on protecting your home. For example, "Building rapport with your neighbors is one of the most important things you can do to protect your home." Honestly, that point never occurred to me. Here's another one: If you have a surveillance camera, make sure it's focused properly: "A camera narrowly focused on a walkway or door will have a much better chance of delivering results." Good point. It didn't occur to me that too broad of a focus would make it hard to identify the crooks.
Finally, here's a great idea, to use if you're lost and the police on looking for you. On your Smartphone, you probably have "Location Services" turned Off. Well, if you do, that makes it harder for the police to find you. So, "Turn on location services in your general settings to enable law enforcement authorities to track your phone." Wow. Probably other readers already thought about this, but I confess I didn't.
All in all, I found 100 DEADLY SKILLS to be a fun, helpful book. I enjoyed scouring through the many ideas. Whilst many of the skills don't apply to me, there were many that did, and the suggestions offered were valuable. Some fit my circumstances, and others--well, no. I just can't see myself skinning that snake.
Advance Review Copy courtesy of Edelweiss.