Hawke’s Special Forces Survival Handbook by Mykel Hawke is not your typical survival book. Tagged as “The Portable Guide to Getting out Alive” on the cover, it just might be a little more than that. Rarely has such a useful guide book been so enlightening and entertaining.
By no means is this a literary work of art. But when one considers the subject matter and when the book might truly come in handy, writing style and fluent prose wouldn’t matter much anyway. Even so, what stands out most from a literary standpoint is the author’s no-holds-barred, straight-to-the-point approach to actions many of us could but may never need to perform. Written for the layman in a relaxed, calming tone, Hawke emphasizes that the most important element in survival is the individual’s will to survive. You can have all of the necessary tools at hand, but without the will and confidence to endure, you’re just biding your time.
First and foremost, this reads more like an owner’s manual for human existence than it does a basic handbook for survival. Hawke often offers multiple solutions for specific tasks, but the recurring theme is one that the reader must draw from within. How important is this task to you and what is your limit? Life and death is separated by the thin line between determination and resignation, and the author frequently addresses this decision point by asking the reader to consider just how far he or she is willing to go.
Sure this book can be used as a pocket reference by just about any scout or camper (its compact size can be easily packed and taken anywhere), but don’t let is size fool you. Hawke has packed a lot of information in this edition, and it is obvious the author paid a lot of attention to what is and is not included. Which brings to question the most noticeably missing element, and that is the delicate steps to field dressing game. There are many ways of capturing and killing game included as well as different methods of cooking it, but the ugly middle step between the two is surprisingly omitted. For a book that even addresses the ethics of cannibalism, it’s hard to believe the task of gutting and cleaning game is too macabre. This omission is a bit disappointing.
The handbook is broken up into chapters on specific criteria like shelter, water, fire, food and tools for simple usage and the illustrations are clear and easy to follow. There are also highlighted areas like nutrition values and first aid tips for even quicker reference. The outstanding organization alone makes this a valuable book in emergency situations.
Mykel Hawke has drawn on his undeniably honorable experience in the U.S. Army Special Forces to put together a valuable handbook in preparedness for the average person. Hawke’s Special Forces Survival Handbook is not just a manual for “getting out alive,” it is a book that questions the reader’s will to live while examining the psychology of being human.