Friday, May 24, 2013

On my book "How to Survive Anywhere"

Why I wrote my books:
"How to Survive Anywhere"

Nyerges is the author of 10 books, and teaches regular classes through the School of Self-reliance. He will do a blog on most of his books over the next month or so.  His books can be obtained at

Two of my books are closely related, “Testing Your Outdoor Survival Skills” and “How to Survive Anywhere.” 

I began teaching a survival skills class at Pasadena City College in 1980, and have taught it at 3 other colleges as well, not to mention endless lectures and workshops. For me, the act of teaching forces me to organize information in the most useful and easily digestible manner (boy, I sound like a chef!).  I worked to organize the subject matter and to cover one topic at a time. I know this may sound like a no-brainer, but I remember some classes on survival and related-topics that were rambling discussions with the students with no sharp focus, and no show-and-tell.  I wanted to present to the student a situation that I felt would facilitate quicker learning, and more retention.

Over time, my survival skills courses began to cover not just the skills that the lost hiker should know, but also the skills that every urban dweller should consider in the event of a disaster. In my early years of teaching, the subject matter more-or-less organized itself into discrete categories: Water, food and plants, fire, shelter, tools and weapons, first aid, navigation, alternatives to electricity, toilet alternatives, and woven throughout all this has been the necessity to have a good mental outlook.

These categories have become my classes with their endless permutations, and constant updates. I found that one of the best ways to involve the student was to ask questions rather than just make statements. I gradually developed a series of questions for each category, which I used as the basis of my classes. Most of the questions had common-sense answers and were not intended to trick the student, but to cause the student to think logically and to see the relationships of things.

As I refined those questions into my class passouts, Peter Gail (of Goosefoot Acres) suggested that I turn them all into a book. So I compiled them into my spiral-bound book, “Testing Your Outdoor Survival Skills.”  Scouts and schools have since used the book for their own educational programs for years now.
In time, I developed my questions into a survival manual that I hoped would benefit not only wilderness travelers but anyone living in the cities and rural areas as well.

I filled in all the gaps from my “Testing” book and answered all the questions and added a lot of photos from my classes, and the result was “How to Survive Anywhere,” my most popular book to date.  The title was the publishers’ idea, not mine, since I thought it sounded a bit presumptuous.  However, it has worked, and is my most popular book to date. 

It is divided into chapters similar to my class topics:  Water (finding it, purifying it, storing it), Fire, Lighting, Energy (all the things you need to know when the power goes out, as well as how to make a fire from the most primitive to the many modern methods), Health and Hygiene (how to stay clean, how to make a toilet, how to use plants for soap, etc.), Clothing and Shelter (obvious topics), Fibre (all the ways to create and use plants for rope, weaving, clothing, etc.), Food (wild foods, growing foods, storing foods), Tools and Weapons (knives, primitive weapons, make-do, etc.), First Aid (though I defer to the Red Cross manual), and Navigation (again, I defer to other complete books on the topic).

The last chapter is called “What is Survival?” and it is this chapter which has drawn criticism, since I include a discussion on how all our choices affect our destiny, all the moral, ethical, and spiritual choices that we like to kid ourselves and believe it’s all “private.” In fact, I list the 10 Commandments and The Golden Rule as some of the best “survival tools” of all time. What you sow, you shall reap.

I was criticized for including in a “survival manual” John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success, the greatest coach of all time, who always said he wasn’t training basketball players but was training people for life. To ignore these principles is the greatest ignorance. The critic felt that I should only include “Boy Scout skills” in a survival guidebook.  OK, there are many survival manuals out there – mine is different.

I also include economic considerations, though only briefly, since there are detailed books that cover “economic survival.” 

In “How to Survive Anywhere,” I even address the topic of whether or not a dark age is looming, and I provide some practical solutions that anyone can act upon. 

It’s a great book, and I hope you get a copy.  According to actor Ed Begley, Jr., “How to Survive Anywhere shows us that ‘survival’ is a mind-set, and that by understanding the principles of survival, we’d fare better in the woods, or in the aftermath of an urban disaster.”

The book is available wherever books are sold, at Amazon, and from the Store at  


mousiemarc said...

I bought it and and read it last year. I have not put any of the "skills" to work yet, and as such I need to read it again (by skills I mean fire making exc). I also read the half of Tom Brown's book. with limited time away from two kids and a full time job I work on what I can easily.

Which brings me to my point. I have almost no physical survival skills. I'm horrible with my hands, retarded at construction, and over all I'm a walking disaster when it comes to what most people call "survivalism." What I my current schedule does allow me to work on is the psychology of survival and thriving actually.

I no longer take for granted that what I have today will be there tomorrow. I can't get out much, so I planted native wild food plants in my yard. I'll learn about them here. I've thought through on many levels what I will need to do with small children and limited skills and resources (I bought a propane stove that also takes charcoal. I have over 50 lbs in charcoal in my shed and lighter fluid.

I also have chickens and am learning how to compost. I am in the process of putting bug out gear together (this will take years as my family is very particular about where such things are stored). I am also having gutters put on my shed, and my bride has agreed to allow a water catch on it.

Instead of looking at what my family dynamics and current resources would not allow me to do. I focused on what I could do. Reading your book (and COdy Lundin's book as well) helped me to focus on what I can do. Or put simply, doing something is better than doing nothing even if you would like to do more.

Besides my mind set still needs some work, and it is the most important aspect of this whole thing. Without it your toast even if you have all the physical skills in the world. In the end one can only do what they can do (it's not worth getting divorced for).

Plus, I have come to the conclusion that there are far worse things than death. Like walking around paranoid and not really living now.

Christopher Nyerges said...

you have the right attitude. do what you can. Be positive. Do it with the family. they will survive with you!

mousiemarc said...

Thanks christopher, given your knowledge and understanding in this field that means a lot to me.

God bless,

mousiemarc said...

Thanks christopher, given your knowledge and understanding in this field that means a lot to me.

God bless,

Sowpath das said...

Nice Post