Book Review: Ultimate Guide to Wilderness Living by John & Geri McPherson.
This book is seriously hardcore, or perhaps for the seriously hardcore. Its chapters cover the basics of life in the wilderness (“Primitive Fire and Cordage,” “Primitive, Semipermanent Shelters,” “Primitive Wilderness Cooking Methods”) as well as the gritty details of making it in the great outdoors. Readers looking for step-by-step instructions on how to brain-tan a buckskin, field dress a fresh kill, or eat a mouse without catching Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome have come to the right place.
The authors, John & Geri McPherson, boast respectable qualifications. John, with eight years of experience as a paratrooper, and his wife Geri are in their fourth year of teaching primitive skills to the survival instructors of the U.S. Army Special Operations Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) school. Since 1978 they have lived on their own homestead complete with log home, outhouse, gravity-fed water and lacking electricity.
The book features over 600 step-by-step photos (no, I didn’t count them). However, most of the photos leave much to be desired. A higher quality color camera would have been a wise investment. The conversational writing style is bearable while the photo captions are continually unclear and unwieldy. But let’s face it folks, if you’re choosing to read this book, you’re not interested in a well-written literary tale about a fantasy night out camping in the woods; you need the dirty, descriptive details and you need them NOW.
The book bills itself perfectly, giving readers exactly what it promises. Hopefully, if I ever find myself in the woods with nothing but my bare hands and have to survive, I will have had the librarian-esque foresight to cache this book in a stone-lined, clay-sealed pit for future reference. Alas, it’s doubtful…