45 Great Books for Preppers

LeadThe world is becoming more uncertain each day. Natural disasters, economic collapse, and terrorism are phrases that have become familiar to every news cycle in every part of the country. But preppers are aware of the danger, and know that fully preparing for any of type of disaster could mean the difference between life and death.

The 45 books on this list of books for preppers are the best in their respective categories. They cover everything from first aid and personal defense, to the construction of shelters and identification of edible plants in the wild. And when the big disaster finally occurs, the knowledge within their pages could be invaluable when it comes to taking care of yourself and your family. We’ve selected the best-reviewed and best-selling books in each of the seven categories listed below.

General Survival
Food & Water
First Aid
Packing, Backpacking & Camping
Nuclear, Biological, and Other Disasters
Bunkers & Home Prep
Self Defense

General Survival

1. SAS Survival Handbook, Revised Edition: For Any Climate, in Any Situation

John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman

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First published in 1986, with the revised edition released in 2009, this international bestseller is considered to be the ultimate guide for outdoor adventurers. Lofty Wiseman, a British author and professional soldier, aims to prepare readers to survive in any unpredictable and dangerous environment. The eleven chapters range from basic camping craft, to navigation by stars and the sun, to survival at sea. A smartphone app based on the book is also available.
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2. Outdoor Life: The Ultimate Survival Manual — 333 Skills That Will Get You Out Alive

Rich Johnson, Outdoor Life Magazine

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Outdoor Life magazine has published this definitive survival guide to facing everything from an angry bear, to a tornado, to an armed insurrection. Topics include building a survival kit, wading across a river, making a bow and arrows, CPR, treating frostbite, and anything else one may need to know in the face of danger. Each conveniently indexed topic is presented through checklists, clear instruction, and even inspirational stories of survival. As a result, this book is both a fascinating pleasure read and one to keep in the emergency survival pack.
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3. How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times

James Wesley Rawles

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James Wesley Rawles, founder of SurvivalBlog.com, reminds us of the many dangers we could face in today’s uncertain world: terrorist attack, natural disaster, global financial collapse, infrastructure failure, and so much more. In this book, Rawles prepares readers to survive these disasters without having to rely on government or communities. Topics include how to filter rainwater, protect money, plant and harvest an effective garden, ration food, secure your home, and other essential survival tactics.
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4. Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide: Food, Shelter, Security, Off-the-Grid Power and More Life-Saving Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living

Jim Cobb

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Unlike so many other survival books on the market which focus on immediate skills like fire-building or basic first aid, this book prepares readers for long-term survival and self-sufficiency. Topics include security and protecting your home or retreat, forms of communication, dealing with refugees and community, and much more. The book also includes a number of checklists and quizzes you can use to test your own preparedness. Though the book is on the slim side (only 170 pages), readers will learn how to face problems and overcome challenges that last weeks, months, and even years.
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5. Survival Wisdom & Know How: Everything You Need to Know to Thrive in the Wilderness

Editors of Stackpole Books

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No matter your skill level, this all-in-one volume is a must-have for any outdoor adventurer and survivalist. Chock-full of detailed ‘how to’s and illustrations, Survival Wisdom & Know How compiles the knowledge of hundreds of accomplished contributors. For the hobby camper and hiker, the book includes sections on tying knots, fishing and ice-fishing, canoeing, first aid, white water rafting, and more. The more seasoned survivalist might enjoy topics such as surviving in the desert, wild animals, ice climbing, to name but a few.
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6. Hawke’s Green Beret Survival Manual: Essential Strategies For: Shelter and Water, Food and Fire, Tools and Medicine, Navigation and Signa

Mykel Hawke

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Mykel Hawke, a Green Beret and Captain in the U.S. Army Special Forces, has a theory — a “Hawke’s Law” — that says “Everything you plan and pack, will be lost in the event that causes the survival scenario.” This idea forms the basis of Hawke’s survival guide, which teaches the titular essential skills along with general survival psychology. In fact, attitude plays a large role in Hawke’s book, and “Never Quit” remains a constant theme. At just over 600 pages, Hawke’s Green Beret Survival Manual includes just about everything one would need to know in order to survive.
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7. 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive

Cody Lundin

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Cody Lundin is the director of the Aboriginal Living Skills School in Prescott, Arizona. Believing that survival depends upon one’s ability to keep the body’s core temperature at 98.6 degrees, Lundin uses humor and common sense to inform readers about maintaining their core temperature regardless of whether they’re in the middle of a desert or a blizzard. His skills and techniques were also featured in the Discovery Channel’s 10-part series “Dual Survival.”
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8. Wilderness Survival: 2nd Edition

Gregory J. Davenport

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According to author Gregory J. Davenport, wilderness survival depends upon one’s ability to do three things: stop and recognize the situation, identify and prioritize the “five survival essentials,” and use resources, both natural and manmade, to meet needs. Davenport’s educational text thoroughly guides readers to the knowledge needed to do these things in any unexpected situation, and unlike most books on the market these days, focuses on wilderness survival as opposed to wilderness living. Topics include the above mentioned “five survival essentials:” personal protection, signaling, finding food and water, travel, and health.
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9. Urban Preppers with Kids, Pets & Parents: Disaster Survival for the Family

James G. Mushen

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For those preppers who live in cities and other urban environments, Mushen has written this extensive guide to protecting families, kids, parents, and pets after disasters both natural and manmade. Organized into numbered sections and written in common sense language, this book offers practical advice on things like storing food, deterring looters, where to go (and why you may not want to go to a FEMA shelter), packing for kids and babies, ensuring the survival of pets, and much, much more.
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10. Wildwood Wisdom

Ellsworth Jaeger

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Though written in 1945, Ellsworth Jaeger’s guide to surviving in the wild offers the same valuable advice today as it did then. Doubling as an account of life in the 1800s, this book contains a plethora of information about the early days of American exploration. In terms of survival tips, readers will also learn about “lost” Native American survival techniques such as making stone knives and tomahawks, designing and building a canoe, and recognizing edible plants.
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11. How to Survive Anywhere: A Guide for Urban, Suburban, Rural, and Wilderness Environments

Christopher Nyerges

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Unlike most other survival books on the market, Christopher Nyerges’ book will prepare you with the skills needed to survive in whatever environment you happen to be when the big disaster strikes. Split into chapters on water, fire, food, shelter, clothing, tools, and weapons, the book goes through detailed practices suitable to any environment. Despite its broad focus, the book is well-illustrated, and written in easy-to-follow language for preppers both new and advanced.
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Food & Water

12. The Illustrated Guide to Edible Wild Plants

Department of the Army

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Plants can be a crucial source of food and medicine in a dangerous situation. Though originally intended for the U.S. Army, this handy little guide now serves as a survival aid for anyone interested in the outdoors or botany. The 156-page book is filled with illustrated images of plants, alongside written information describing physical characteristics, habitat, distribution, edible parts, and other useful pieces of information, making it easier to locate and identify potentially life-saving plants.
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13. The Trapper’s Bible

Dale Martin

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If you’re new to the world of snaring, then Dale Martin’s 72-page book could be a valuable resource. In addition to explaining the differences between traps and snares, The Trapper’s Bible clearly details how to make pest snares, large animal snares, transplant traps, and various camp alarms and pathguards. Though it lacks much information beyond the actual construction of traps and snares, Martin’s book acts as a great crash course for those interested in the basics of snaring and trapping.
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14. Basic Butchering of Livestock & Game

John J. Mettler

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Whether you are a seasoned butcher or a novice, this book provides valuable information about slaughtering and butchering everything from beef and pork, to venison and wild turkey. Mettler, a former large-animal veterinarian, writes clearly and concisely in this very detailed “how-to” book. Topics include at what age to butcher an animal; how to kill, skin, slaughter, and butcher; Salting, smoking, and preserving; and various tools and equipment that are needed. As an added bonus, the book also includes a number of recipes.
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15. Survival Pantry: The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage, Water Storage, Canning and Preserving

Ben Night

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No one knows when a large-scale disaster might hit, meaning it is in one’s best interest to have on hand a “survival pantry.” Ideally suited for the new prepper just building his food supply, Night’s book covers topics like why a food storage system is necessary, common mistakes and how to avoid them, water storage and filtration, various ways to store food, and where to store food if you are lacking space. The book also includes a comprehensive list of foods that you should stockpile.
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16. Nature’s Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants

Samuel Thayer

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Samuel Thayer’s extensive library on edible wild plants have become go-to books for a number of outdoor and bushcraft schools, and are widely considered the best written on the topic. In Nature’s Garden, Thayer uses a clear and conversational writing style to describe 41 edible plants (his own The Forager’s Harvest, a companion to this book, identifies and describes another 32). Each description is also accompanied by illustrations and photographs for easy identification. Like all of his writings, Thayer bases what he writes on personal experience.
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17. Harvesting H2O: A Prepper’s Guide to the Collection, Treatment, and Storage of Drinking Water While Living Off the Grid

Nicholas Hyde

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Though much has been written about the storage of food during times of disaster, the obtainment of water is of primary importance. As author Nicholas Hyde points out, most of Earth’s surface water is unsafe for human consumption. Thus, Hyde’s book seeks to guide readers to finding and renewing a water supply to help them survive. Specific topics include Purifying Water at Home, Drilling Your Own Well, Practical Water Storage Solutions, Collecting Rainwater, Home Distillation, and much more.
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First Aid

18. Living Ready Pocket Manual — First Aid: Fundamentals for Survival

James Hubbard

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A perfect little guide to keep amongst your survival pack, camping gear, or in your car, Hubbard’s Living Ready Pocket Manual will guide you in the quick steps necessary to stabilize a dangerous situation and save a life. The book contains clearly written, step-by-step instructions for responding to dehydration, hypothermia, heatstroke, frostbite, gunshot wounds, allergic reactions, broken bones, and more. Also included in the book are detailed packing lists for first aid kits of all sizes.
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19. The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way

Joseph Alton, Amy Alton

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Authors Joseph and Amy Alton, two premiere Medical Preparedness Professionals from a well-known survival website, base this book off of the devastating assumption that there will be no doctor or hospital available in the aftermath of a catastrophic event. The Altons use plain English to instruct the non-medical professional on how to identify and treat over 100 different medical issues. Some of the topics covered include Likely Medical Issues You Will Face, Medical Skills You Will Want to Learn, The Mass Casualty Incident, Patient Transport, The Medicinal Garden, Fractures, Essential Over-the-Counter Drugs, and over 90 more.
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20. Emergency War Surgery: The Survivalist’s Medical Desk Reference

U.S. Army

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In most combat situations, military surgeons must attempt to treat injuries and save lives in circumstances that are less than ideal. This massive guide, written by the U.S. Army for just such circumstances, details and illustrates nearly 200 surgical and treatment topics that can be used outside of a hospital or in a danger zone. Unlike other books on this list, Emergency War Surgery is written specifically for those with, at the very least, basic medical training.
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21. Where There Is No Dentist

Murray Dickson

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Murray Dickson’s definitive guide is used around the world by community health workers, educators, and other individuals who help people care for their teeth and gums. The book focuses on a wide variety of topics, including examining patients, diagnosing common dental problems, making and using common dental tools, removing teeth, and placing fillings, among others. Also included is a chapter on maintaining oral health when luxuries such as store-bought toothpaste are not widely available.
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22. Where There Is No Doctor

David Werner, Jane Maxwell, Carol Thuman

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Like the above book, Where There Is No Doctor is a resource widely used around the world by health workers, clinicians, and others in the healthcare industry. The 450-page book presents easy-to-understand information on preventing, diagnosing, and treating common diseases. The book especially focuses on nutrition, and preventing infection and disease in areas where bacteria are otherwise prevalent. The newest edition, published in 2013, also includes information on tuberculosis and HIV.
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23. First Aid, Survival and CPR — Waterproof, Reusable, Home And Field Pocket Guide

F.A. Davis Company Publishing

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Printed on heavy-duty, waterproof stock, this pocket-sized book is designed to store in a first aid kit, car, or camping pack. Written to be understood by Scouts and experienced campers alike, the book is a valuable resource for dealing with any kind of emergency situation in any type of setting. In addition to more traditional information such as bleeding, shock, and broken bones, the guide also provides invaluable tips on surviving floods, hurricanes, tornados, house fires, earthquakes, mudslides, and other natural disasters.
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Packing, Backpacking & Camping

24. Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit

Creek Stewart, Jacqueline Musser

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If an unexpected disaster strikes, you may need to leave your home quickly, and this book aims to tell you everything you need to know in order to do just that. Through the clear-cut guidance of survivalist Creek Stewart, this book walks you through creating a Bug Out, disaster-preparedness kit for 72 hours of independent survival. Topics include a checklist of things to pack based upon your individual survival skill level, photos and explanations of every recommended item, and practice exercises that teach you how to use the items.
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25. Build the Perfect Survival Kit

John D. McCann

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Survivalist John D. McCann teaches readers how to create bug-out bags, get-home bags, and vehicle kits that are fully customized to help meet the survival needs of any individual or family. In addition to hundreds of detailed descriptions and photos, the book includes advice for building kits that include fire and light sources, signaling equipment, first aid items, and more. McCann also includes a section full of useful survival tips and skills to prepare for any emergency survival situation.
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26. Hiking Survival Guide: Basic Survival Kit and Necessary Survival Skills to Stay Alive in the Wilderness

Conrad Blake

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Written specifically for outdoor enthusiasts who are becoming more serious about hiking, Conrad Blake’s Hiking Survival Guide clearly details the constantly-present dangers, and how to avoid or deal with them. The 51-page book includes topics like preparing for a camping trip, what to wear when hiking, meal ideas, signaling techniques, first aid basics, building a shelter, and much more. According to the author, this book is recommended for those with some hiking experience who are preparing for an extended stay in the wilderness.
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27. Camping & Survival: The Ultimate Outdoors Book

Paul Tawrell

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Though there are many books on the market to prepare you for camping or hiking in the wilderness, Paul Tawrell’s book includes useful information not found in most others. In addition to traditional basics such as first aid, food and water, and finding shelter, Trawell also writes about panning for gold, forms of camouflage, dangerous animals and birds, and tracking techniques. This book is written for outdoor adventurers of any skill level, and includes well-written tips on hiking in both Summer and Winter.
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28. Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties: The Classic Guide to Building Wilderness Shelters

D.C. Beard

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D.C. Beard, one of the founders of the Boy Scouts, has written this 250-page guide that includes hands-on instruction and advice for building everything from a bark teepee or treehouse, to a log cabin or sod house. Written for boys of scouting age, the book is clearly written and easy to follow. Beard’s own illustrations accompany the text to show readers exactly how their beaver mat huts, birch bark shacks, Navajo hogan, or pole house should look. Supplementary chapters include information on using an axe, splitting and notching logs, and even making a fireplace.
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29. Finding Your Way Without a Map or Compass

Harold Gatty

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There could be a number of reasons as to why a compass is unavailable in the face of an emergency or major disaster. In this book, author Harold Gatty seeks to prepare his readers for survival without the use of a campus in the wilderness, in towns, in the desert, in snow-covered areas, and even on the ocean. He describes ways in which one can find their way by observing birds, animals, weather patterns, vegetation, shifting sands, patterns of snow fields, and the positions of the sun, moon, and stars.
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Nuclear, Biological, and Other Disasters

30. U.S. Armed Forces Nuclear, Biological And Chemical Survival Manual

Captain Dick Couch USN (retired), Captain George Galdorisi

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These days, the threat of a nuclear, chemical, or biological terrorist attack is considered a likely scenario. This book is a civilian adaptation of the military guidebook The U.S. Armed Forces Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Counter-Terrorism Handbook, and contains the military’s best practices in an attempt to prepare readers to survive any such attack. Topics include how to gain knowledge of an impending attack; first aid in the wake of a nuclear, chemical, or biological disaster; achieving basic protection during an attack; and guarding against fallout from a nuclear bomb.
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31. Nuclear War Survival Skills: Updated and Expanded

Cresson H. Kearny

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Written by a former U.S. Army officer, this book is geared towards the average citizen in the wake of a major attack or disaster. Through clear and thorough descriptions, the book describes various types of shelters that can be put together in mere hours by untrained men and women. Kearny also includes valuable information on the use of potassium iodide to protect the thyroid gland, and details ways in which a homemade fallout meter can be constructed to indicate radiation levels.
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32. Surviving Doomsday

J.D. Everman

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J.D. Everman’s Surviving Doomsday seeks to provide tips and techniques to help people survive a biological attack and mass warfare. The book covers topics such as what to do before and after you become contaminated with fallout, how to set up and use a quarantine room, food to stockpile, what you’ll need in the event you must leave your home, personal and home defense, and how to forecast weather using only senses. The book also includes a “special bonus section” on using herbs as survival medicine.
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33. Disaster Preparedness for EMP Attacks and Solar Storms

Arthur T. Bradley

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Bradley, a well-known prepper and author of the Practical Prepper Newsletter, has written this guide to prepare people for two potential events: the EMP attack and the solar storm. For each, Bradley thoroughly analyzes the likelihood of it happening before describing the potential impact it would have on our nation’s infrastructure and how to meet personal needs in the absence of modern utilities. Topics include constructing homemade Faraday cages, establishing micro-infrastructures, and protecting personal vehicles.
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34. When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes

Cody Lundin

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Survivalist Cody Lundin’s guide to preparing for disasters is aimed at families. Written clearly and with humor, Lundin’s book educates people of all ages about survival psychology and the skills necessary to survive a disaster from one’s home, office, or car. Topics discussed include drinking water, foods, heating and cooling, alternative options for lighting, building toilets and composting, and even the safe disposal of a corpse. Included throughout the book are memorable anecdotes, personal stories, and relevant quotes.
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Bunkers & Home Prep

35. Prepper’s Home Defense: Security Strategies to Protect Your Family by Any Means Necessary

Jim Cobb

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Written around the idea of “Deter, Delay, Defend!,” Jim Cobb’s home defense guide details how to defend your home, family, food, water, and supplies against looting by the desperate masses. The book is full of realistic advice and clear, concise writing. Topics include securing the perimeter and settings traps, fortifying a house and setting up safe rooms, securing storage, the safe usage of firearms, and gathering intelligence and forming alliances.
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36. The Prepper’s Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for a Disaster

Bernie Carr

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Using a simple, Do-It-Yourself approach, Bernie Carr details 101 important steps individuals and families can take to prepare for earthquakes, wildfires, floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. Examples of Carr’s quick, smart and inexpensive projects include making a master list of passwords and code, calculating the amount of water your family will need, starting a food storage plan for $5 a week, making a safe from a hollowed-out book, assembling a first aid kit, cooking without electricity, packing a Bug Out bag, and much more.
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37. Barbed Wire, Barricades, and Bunkers: The Free Citizen’s Guide to Fortifying the Home Retreat

F.J. Bohan

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This guide walks preppers step-by-step through readying and fortifying a home or retreat. Bohan, a dedicated prepper and author of the book Living on the Edge: A Family’s Journey to Self-Sufficiency, describes a variety of possible fortifications that can be adapted to suit any family’s personal defense plan. He details the pros and cons of traditional methods such as barbed-wire fences and entanglements, concrete barriers, sandbags, and trenches, while also including modern methods such as the “Jersey barrier.”
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38. Emergency Air: for Shelter-in-Place Preppers and Home-Built Bunkers

F.J. Bohan

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If you already have an underground bunker or shelter-in-place room, F.J. Bohan has written this indispensable guide to acquiring and maintaining the most important element to your family’s survival: breathable air! The first part of the book details how to seal a bunker or shelter with duct tape and plastic sheeting in order to escape dangerous airborne particles after a nuclear, biological, or chemical attack. The second part then details how to safely ventilate the shelter to ensure that fresh air keeps its occupants alive.
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39. The High Security Shelter — How to Implement a Multi-Purpose Safe Room in the Home

Joel Skousen

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Joel Skousen’s book prepares preppers for the impending “big one” — whether that describe earthquake, hurricane, or war. This do-it-yourself guide will walk readers through the planning, construction, and outfitting of a high security shelter within one’s own, already built house. Topics include high security rooms, fire-resistant barriers, materials for radiation protection, backup power, concealment strategies, and much more. It is worth noting that this 110-page book was adapted from Skousen’s much larger work, The Secure Home.
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40. The Secure Home

Joel Skousen

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Consisting of just over 700 pages, Joel Skousen’s The Secure Home contains all of the information a family may need to implement a high security residence or retreat. Skousen guides preppers through the design and construction of adding to any existing home a complete, live-in security shelter to protect against tornados, hurricanes, fire, intrusion, and nuclear fallout, to name but a few. The book also includes a list of specific product and equipment recommendations that can save a prepper months of research.
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41. Holding Your Ground: Preparing for Defense it if all Falls Apart

Joe Nobody

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In addition to being a traditional instructional guide, Joe Nobody’s Holding Your Ground also acts as a planning tool that prepares preppers for defending a location. Through easy to read, step-by-step instructions, this book aims to teach readers how to defend one’s home and family. Topics include how to train a defensive team, hide in plain sight, pre-position supplies, and more. To supplement the common sense direction, the book also includes military tactics and historical examples.
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Self Defense

42. Real World Self-Defense: A Guide to Staying Alive in Dangerous Times

Jerry Van Cook

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Violence pervades nearly every aspect of the world we live in, and as a result, more and more people are seeking practical solutions to deal with it. Jerry Van Cook’s 225-page book offers common sense advice for surviving everything from an unexpected attack to any legal aftermath that may occur. Additional topics include unarmed defense, improvised weapons, firearms, and more. It is clearly written and therefore suitable for people from every background and skill level.
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43. The Farnam Method of Defensive Handgunning

John S. Farnam

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This book combines author John S. Farnam’s 30 years of teaching defensive firearm techniques to police departments, federal and state agencies, and even foreign governments. Aimed at novice and experienced shooters alike, the book details various types of handguns and the most effective tactics for using them against potential criminals. Farnam also adds important supplementary information on mental toughness, defensive ammunition, and the importance of testing and selecting the right handgun.
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44. Principles of Personal Defense

Jeff Cooper

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Jeff Cooper’s classic Principles of Personal Defense provides readers with practical and valuable advice about self defense. At a concise 80 pages, the book is suitable for inexperienced shooters of any age. In addition to the clearly written descriptions, the book includes a number of helpful illustrations, as well as a forward written by firearms expert Louis Awerbuck. The value of this book is widely considered to be the inclusion of topics such as combat mindset and proper defensive mental conditioning.
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45. Concealed Carry and Home Defense Fundamentals, 2nd Edition

Michael Martin

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This comprehensive guide authored by a Chief Instructor for the United States Concealed Carry Association, is geared towards anyone who currently owns a firearm or is considering the purchase of one. The 220-page book is comprehensive, and written in easy-to-understand language. Topics include avoiding conflict, handgun and shotgun basics, the physiology of violent encounters, legal aspects of using deadly force, and much more. Each section is complemented by full color pictures, graphics, and diagrams.
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