Torch Reads

Emergency: This Book Might Save Your Life by Neil Strauss might do just that. At the very least, it will give you a sneak peak into the life of a man who, in the span of three years, transformed himself into a survivalist ready to take on any difficulty man or nature throws his way.

Over the past few years, you might have found yourself asking, “What happens when the excrement hits the fan?”

Between natural disasters, terrorist attacks, the collapse of the economy, and the Y2K Bug, it is a wonder we are all still alive. Neil Strauss saw all these things happening around him and realized that if and when the excrement hits the fan, he would have no idea what to do. So he decided to fix that.

Strauss puts it best when the leader of an Urban Escape and Evasion Class asked him why he signed up for the course.

“I think things have changed for my generation,” he said.

“We were born with a silver spoon in our mouths, but now its being removed. And most of us never learned how to take care of ourselves. So I’ve spent the last two years trying to get the skills and documents I need to prepare for an uncertain future.”

This book is the story of what he went through to do just that. Strauss struggled to obtain a second passport and an offshore bank account. He writes about how he learned to track, hunt, kill, cook, and eat animals. He tells how he learned to fly a plane, hotwire a car, pick locks, deliver a baby and many more useful skills.

Throughout the three-year process, Strauss met and learned from an eclectic group of people including billionaires and paranoid doomsday sayers. He learned how to track from the legendary Tom Brown, who reputedly learned his skills from an Apache Indian shaman. He learned how to survive in the city from the same people who train navy SEALs, marines and SWAT teams.

In short, he learned every skill necessary for survival, be it shooting a gun or wielding a knife, from the experts.

Towards the end of the book, Strauss learns an important lesson. Running away from a dangerous situation may help you survive, but you never truly live until you confront the situation in a controlled and reasonable fashion.

This leads to him becoming an EMT and doing other things to help his community in times of need.

Strauss started all of this because he wanted to be able to escape disaster, but now, when disaster strikes, he is right in there on the front lines helping those who are affected and this irony is not lost on him.

Emergency could be used as a jumping-off point for learning to be a survivalist. It has many resources in it to teach the reader the skills necessary to do so and mentions many more.

At the very least, this book is an entertaining story. Strauss’ writing is fluid and very funny. Once you pick the book up, it is hard to put down.

In the end, however, Strauss’ book gives the reader a glimpse at what it takes to achieve freedom.

Freedom is not the ability to run when disaster strikes because when you run, the disaster still has a hold over you. Freedom is also not relying on the system for electricity, food, transportation, and other necessities because the system can fail you.

True freedom is freedom from dependency and laziness. We depend on supermarkets and subways. We have become slaves to the convenience of fast food and running water.

But what happens when those things are taken away from us? If you are truly free, then you will be fine.

If anything, Emergency lets the reader know that Neil Strauss is a free man.