If you’re after a book that gives you loads of real-life stories of danger and survival, from prison breaks to plane crashes, this is it. Covering some time-worn classics (cannibals in the Andes, Papillon’s break) as well as a few surprisingly obscure tales, Extreme Survivors presents each episode in a news-style format with plenty of maps, diagrams and quotes from the survivors. While it won’t teach you about how to escape from FARC guerrillas or how to break out of a concrete-lined pit under someone’s garage, it will certainly open your eyes to the psychology of the people who have got away.
Bear Grylls provides the foreword with typically stirring stuff – “No one ever said it would be easy” is a bit of an understatement when you’re talking about chopping your own arm off with a blunt penknife. He does set the scene nicely for the dread stories to come, though.
With each chapter covering around 6 pages, this is broken down in to easy chunks so it’s perfect for travelling or dipping into at home. The photos are pretty stunning too, from vistas of the Australian outback to remote Himalayan passes.
In brief, this probably won’t replace your survival manual. But it’s a good way of communing with the various techniques that people have used to get by in the worst of all situations.