Years ago I tuned into the new ‘reality’ show Survivor thinking that it would offer some kind of practical advice on the subject, or at least provide an honest depiction of what happens in a true survival situation. Boy was I disappointed.
Survival soon became a hot commodity for television shows. Most of them were predictably shallow, sensationalized and, in some cases, downright silly. All but one; Les Stroud’s Survivorman series; an honest depiction of how a skilled outdoorsman reacts to some pretty grim situations. Stroud responded with measured, intelligent actions; never glossing over the stress, fear and discomfort or his mistakes- survival in the real world.
Will to Live is written with the same skill and honesty.
I’ve read many survival accounts, accident reports and how-to books, but Will to Live weaves all of these together. Les gives a detailed account of the situation, analyzes the actions taken and describes practical survival skills in a single narrative thread. This style took some getting used to simply because I don’t think anyone has written about survival this way before. Once I appreciated what was going on I found the style very useful and compelling.
It’s much like walking through each situation with an experienced guide pointing out the good and bad decisions, offering a set of alternative scenarios, and giving practical survival advice. Stroud’s narrative teaches the single most important asset to survival – a strong survival mindset .
As a Scout leader and outdoor program teacher I’ve been involved in a few (comparatively) minor wilderness emergencies. Anyone who has been in true danger in the wilderness does not want to repeat the experience. Reading Will to Live is an unparalleled opportunity to strengthen skills and learn an attitude of preparedness that will enable you to bring yourself and the people you lead safely home.
EXCERPTS FROM WILL TO LIVE
From the Introduction:
Welcome to Will to Live, a collection of what I feel are some of the most compelling survival stories the world has ever known. These tales run the gamut from world-famous, well-funded extravaganzas to the rarely told (yet equally fascinating) narratives of quiet determination. Yet they share a common thread: every one of them has sent my mind soaring with thoughts of how I would fare under similar circumstances, when life and death hang in uncomfortable balance. I may watched Tarzan on TV, but Douglas Mawson was real. I may have practiced my shelters in a survival class. hut Yossi Ghinsbcrg did it for real.
Therein lies one of the greatest problems I and other survival instructors have always faced. We rarely get the opportunity to really do the one thing we are best at: getting caught and subsequently tested in a true survival situation. We know too much. prepare too well, rarely get lost. Yet beneath it all, our hidden desire. our secret guilty pleasure. is to one day put our skills to the test when life hangs in the balance.
From Chapter 1; Alone in the Amazon (the story of Yossi Ghinsberg)
… when it came to planning and preparation. He was young, carefree, and looking for adventure. He ignored the hard-line details and practicalities and instead focused on the romance the trip promised.
Yossi certainly isn’t the first person to he guilty of this mistake. Many would-be adventurers consider planning and preparation to he an annoying waste of time, and one that only serves to get in the way of ‘fun’ A carefree attitude may he fun in some circumstances. hut the Amazon jungle is not the place to play it by ear. The experienced traveler knows that you can be prepared and still have fun and adventure. Had Yossi and his newl found friends recognized this, perhaps tragedy might not have occurred.