We live in an increasingly chaotic and dangerous world. Turn your mind, momentarily, away from the more gratifying parts of life to the murkier side and you’ll realize that it’s a world rife with peril and chaos everywhere. Unbeknownst to you, you could be in the crosshairs of a carjacker, a kidnapper, a gang member, or worse, a terrorist, any damn day. If that’s not enough, there are even bigger forces to contend with. Mother nature is rather indiscriminating in her wrath. Disasters such as earthquakes, lightening, flash floods, tsunamis, usually strike without any forewarning and are pretty damaging scenarios for an unprepared and untrained mind. You need different techniques to deal with each one and come out a survivor. Thankfully, there is someone you and I count on. Cade Courtley, a former Navy SEAL and sniper, has authored one gem of a book, ‘SEAL Survival Guide: A Navy SEAL’s secret to surviving any disaster’, and it’s a must read for everyone. The rest of my review will explain why.
The central message of the book and the one that Cade Courtley repeatedly emphasizes is, “Be a survivor – not a statistic!” He paints dozens of daunting scenarios – three dozen, by a rough count – that anyone, on their worst day, can find themselves trapped in. From relatively less hostile ones such as surviving a dog attack, avoiding an auto accident to the more nefarious bunch such as surviving mall shootings, home invasions, nuclear and biochemical attacks, Cade Courtley deciphers it all for the reader.
Cade Courtley situates you exactly where you would never want to be, facing your worst fears. The mere thought of being in an airplane crash or being held hostage and tortured in a foreign country or being hijacked, is enough to give someone the heebie-jeebies, let alone the trauma that an actual event can cause. If and only if, people are situationally aware, says the author, they can avoid many dire incidents. People oblivious to their immediate surroundings – ever noticed those fools fixated to their phones in a crowded place – often top the casualty chart when the disaster strikes. Being on your guard every waking moment and staying calm under duress, qualify as baseline requirements for staying alive.
Cade Courtley’s firsthand knowledge of a number of deadly scenarios makes this book
Cade Courtley situates you exactly where you would never want to be, facing your worst fears.
so powerful, and so necessary. Every page of the book brims with intelligent insights and pieces of practical advice. When abandoning a sinking ship, for example, Courtley advises, “Never dive headfirst. Keep your feet and knees together to protect your femoral arteries, which can cause rapid bleed-out if cut.” In the event of a public place shooting, Courtley advises against staying grounded,“Bystanders who freeze are added to the casualty toll. Do not freeze or burrow in – react and move with maximum purpose and calculated caution.” He tops off his advice mostly with masterful insights such as,”Stay a foot off the walls. When a bullet hits and ricochets off a wall, it tends to travel down within approx. 6 inches of it.”
Some of the information in the book might baffle a lay person. Take, for instance, Courtley’s insight into what to do when a bomb goes off in the vicinity. Fall flat to the ground, keep your legs crossed and mouth opened. Why, you might wonder? “Because if your mouth is closed, the shock waves from the explosion can burst your lungs and your eardrums,” Priceless, huh? In a later section of the book, Courtley explains how to make improvised survival gears for a host of adverse conditions. You learn how to make your own improvised gas mask (to survive a biochemical attack), a fulcrum (to save others from under the debris), a floatation device (using your pants, no sh*t, really), a solar still (to desalinate seawater and gather fresh water in a desert), a quinzee (to survive in the frozen mountains), a tourniquet (to stop the blood flow) and many such more.
“SEAL Survival Guide” runs to 343 pages, and has four sections. The ‘survival scenarios’ section constitutes almost three-fourths of the book, however. Cade Courtley ensures that all the survival secrets reach the reader in an intuitive and comprehensive fashion. Once you start on a particular topic, there is no way you will postpone until you have read through it. On a slightly critical note, I would have loved the topics done in a lower bound to upper bound fashion – starting from modest dangers to cataclysmic ones. That said, I am not taking anything away from the book or the author. It’s a stellar book, a life-changer in my case.
I read approximately 20 business and management books every year, but trust me when I say this: cumulative knowledge of all those books pale in significance to what I have read and learnt in “Seal Survival guide”. In pursuit of our dreams, we often forget the most critical underpinnings to our potential riches: our health and our survival. Cade Courtley’s book may not turn you into a ruthless strongman overnight, but it certainly teaches you some of the precious survival tactics that you can put to use when needed. Given the uncertain times we live in, this book bears unparalleled significance and is a must read for anyone who wishes to increase his or her odds of survival when the unprecedented strikes