I’ve known of Christopher Nyerges for a while. He was on the first season of Doomsday Preppers, way back before that show became something to point at and laugh about. I’d read several of his articles in various survival/prepper magazines, too. Simply put, he’s obviously been there and done that when it comes to this sort of stuff. He’s been around the proverbial block enough times that he could tell you a story about every crack in the sidewalk.
In How to Survive Anywhere, Nyerges instructs the readers on various strategies to achieve life sustaining goals in the city as well as in rural areas. The focus, for the most part, is on primitive tools and skills, such as weaving cordage from plant material. Here is the Table of Contents.
Chapter 1 – Water
Chapter 2 – Fire, Lighting, Energy
Chapter 3 – Health and Hygiene
Chapter 4 – Clothing and Shelter
Chapter 5 – The World is Tied Together by Fiber
Chapter 6 – Food
Chapter 7 – Tools and Weapons
Chapter 8 – First Aid
Chapter 9 – Navigation
Chapter 10 – What is Survival?
In each chapter, Nyerges outlines the problems facing a survivor and then presents various ways to solve the issues. In the first chapter, for example, Nyerges doesn’t just talk about the obvious need for clean water but how to produce it in several different ways, from transpiration bags to collecting rainwater and even how to store water for later use.
As I mentioned earlier, many of the methods, tools, and skills taught in this book skew to the primitive side of things. Don’t take that to mean that he eschews the thought of using modern equipment. Far from it. Rather, the approach here is to show the reader how to do things if you’ve lost your gear. For example, you may need cordage to help assemble a shelter but you don’t have any with you. He shows you how to weave it from plant fibers.
One thing I really appreciate about this book is the common sense approach. In Chapter 6, for example, Nyerges states, “…the knowledge of food plants is arguably the least important [survival skill], while also being arguably one of the hardest to master.” He’s absolutely correct. The body can get by for quite some time without food, especially given the extra pounds many of us are carrying around these days. Rather than try to memorize dozens of different plants, concentrate on learning just a handful of the ones that grow right in your backyard. Know how to recognize them in every stage of their growth and how to prepare them for consumption. As Nyerges suggests, get to know them until you can recognize them while driving a car. Only when you reach that point should you move on to other plants.
That said, he goes into great detail on several edible plants, how to recognize them as well as how to prepare them. This latter part of the equation is often missing from this topic in other books.
Another thing I really liked is that the chapter on first aid is thankfully brief. As I’ve often said before, if I want a first aid manual, I’ll buy one. In this book, Nyerges does share a couple of natural remedies for various ailments and injuries.
Nyerges isn’t afraid to recommend additional reading on some topics, such as in the Navigation chapter. He knows that no single, individual book can be all things to all readers. I always see that as a sign of a quality instructor and author.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and I did learn a couple of things about how to utilize the plants around me for different purposes. I’m not as much into the primitive stuff as Nygeres is. That doesn’t mean his approach is wrong, far from it. Rather, it is like two cowboys trying to get their herds of cattle to the same barn. We might take different routes but we’ll get there just the same.