> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Review: Les Stroud's Will to Live



Review: Les Stroud's Will to Live

Will to Live: Dispatches from the Edge of SurvivalWill to Live: Dispatches from the Edge of Survival is the latest book from Survivorman himself, Les Stroud. I am generally a big fan of Les Stroud's and believe that he is pretty uniquely qualified to write about survival. I don't think there are many (or perhaps any) who have spent more time surviving alone in the varied places and conditions that he has. Les will be the first to admit that his survival experiences were not (generally) true survival situations--he was in contact with a crew and had assistance a few hours away--but still, he knows survival pretty intimately.

In Will to Live, Les analyzes the survival stories or "ordeals" of many different survivors, and combines them with anecdotes from his many adventures. It's a combination that mostly works very well, though a few of his personal stories seem a bit out of sync with the rest of the book (two small chapters on diving with sharks, for example). For the most part though, everything meshes well and makes for excellent reading.

If you read or watch much survival non-fiction, at least a few of the ordeals that Les recounts will be familiar to you. There's the story of Nando Parrado and the other plane crash survivor's trapped in the Andes, the Robertson family stranded at sea for weeks, Chris McCandless who died in the Alaskan bush and was the topic of the book and film Into the Wild, and several others. Les does an excellent, play-by-play recounting of their stories, with lots of survival details and analysis woven in. Les provides his insight into decisions and points out mistakes that the survivors made--he doesn't sugar coat his retelling or analysis, especially in cases where survivors made huge mistakes, dumb decisions and made it out mostly by luck.

The stories that I found most interesting were accounts of exploration efforts during the early 20th century--one ill-fated journey to explore the Arctic and the survival tale Douglas Mawson, an early explorer of Antarctica. I was not familiar with either of these stories, and found both of them fascinating. The Arctic expedition is a classic example of the damage caused by poor leadership and bad group dynamics, while the Mawson's account is one of ingenuity and determination. Mawson is especially amazing, surviving months in the harshest climate on earth, with broken and dwindling supplies. Very good stuff. >Will to Live is fairly short book, around 200 pages, so it is a quick, easy read. While it is NOT a survival manual, it does provide a excellent study of a number of survival ordeals, analyzed by Survivorman himself. These are stories that anyone interested in wilderness survival should become familiar with and learn from, if only to build your knowledge and to share with others. Excellent book, thumbs up from me.

Get Will to Live on Amazon >