Entries for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Life in a medieval castle

If you have ever wondered what life in a medieval castle was like, this is the book for you. Joseph and Frances Gies describes in great detail everything from how, why and when castles were first built, their evolution and finally their decline.

While reading life in a medieval castle I sometimes forgot this was a book about castles. The authors offer such a wide spectrum of history that surrounds castles that it is easy to lose oneself in the book.

Chapters include:

The castle comes to england
The lord
The castle as a house
The lady
The household
A day in the castle – which I found very interesting
Hunting as a way of life
The villagers
The making of a knight
The castle at war – another chapter I found interesting
The castle year
The decline of the castle

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98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive

Cody Lundin, director of the Aboriginal Living Skills School in Prescott, Arizona, shares his own brand of wilderness wisdom in this highly anticipated new book on commonsense, modern survival skills for the backcountry, the backyard, or the highway. This is the ultimate book on how to stay alive-based on the principal of keeping the body’s core temperature at a lively 98.6 degrees.

In his entertaining and informative style, Cody stresses that a human can live without food for weeks and without water for about three days or so. But if the body’s core temperature dips much below or above the 98.6 degree mark, a person can literally die within hours. It is a concept that many don’t take seriously or even consider, but knowing what to do to maintain a safe core temperature when lost in a blizzard or in the desert could save your life. Lundin delivers the message with wit, rebellious humor, and plenty of backcountry expertise.

Publication Date: June 23, 2003

Product Details

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Gibbs Smith; Reprint edition (June 23, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1586852345
ISBN-13: 978-1586852344
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches

Books for a survivalist library

Books for a long term SHTF survival situationOne of the common questions I see repeated over and over on the forum – What are the best books for a survivalist library? Since the topic of books is brought up so much, I would like to post an article books.

Some books should be a given, such as religious books and first aid books. Who in their right mind does not have a first aid book in their preps? Saying that you should have a first aid book in your preps, is like saying the sky is blue and the grass is green.

Asking if you have a military survival manual in your preps, is like asking if you took a shower and brushed your teeth this morning.

Lets move past the books that should be a given.

Example forum threads

A must have for your library
Starting My SHTF Library
Survival Library
Survivalist Library
Your Survival library

My personal opinion, the only wrong answer is not doing anything at all.

If you are doing “something”, then you are on the right path.

One piece of advice that I can offer, is to focus on books that are directly related to your long term SHTF survival plans.

If you live in the middle of a city, why would you buy a bunch of farming and gardening books? The key words there are “a bunch”. I can see someone in the city having some chickens, or a small backyard garden, but not on the scale that someone with 100 acres has.

The books we are going to talk about are in no way a complete collection.  In my opinion, it would be almost impossible to have a “complete” library.

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Life in a Medieval village by Frances and Joseph Gies

Life in a Medieval Castle by Frances and Joseph Gies is an outstanding read for any survivalist who wants a better understanding of how people survived the medieval ages. The book covers peasant life from around the 1100s to what happens after the Black Death of 1348 and 1350.

Just about every detail of daily life is described; such as what crops were raised, what farm animals were raised, what uses the animals served, what services the animals preformed, which animals were best for butchering, which ones were not butchered, what people ate, and the difficulties that people ran into.

One example is that crop fields slowly turned into sheep fields. Sheep served several purposes – meat, milk, wool and skin for writing. People could make more money by raising sheep and exporting their wool, then could be made from growing food crops.

While reading Life in a Medieval Village, I never expected people of that time period to lead such complicated lives. People went to church, paid taxes, had to work X number of days for the lord, sued, were sued, severed on a jury, and led what seemed like normal everyday lives.

Something that really stands out, is now little people have changed in the past 700+ years. There is one story that mad me say “that could have happened anywhere today” – a man goes over to friends house for dinner. While he is there the husband and wife get into an argument. The innocent bystander tries to break up the fight, only for the man or woman to turn on him with an axe and kill him.  Moral of the story – Never get inbetween and husband and wife while they are fighting.

272 pages
Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
ISBN-10: 0060920467
ISBN-13: 978-0060920463
10 chapters

While reading about the crops that were raised, it seemed that people focused on wheat, barley, oats, beans and peas. The poorest of the poor ate pootage – which is a boiled mixture of different ingredients. Meaning, the poor peasants boiled and ate whatever they had on hand.

One good thing about the medieval diet, is that by todays standards it would be considered heart healthy. People ate very little meat, except during holidays such as Easter and Christmas. From existing journals meat and fat was so rare, that people dreamed of eating food items like sausage. The majority of the fat in their diet probably came from salted pork, cows or lambs milk, butter and cheese.  Even though people fished, fish does not provide a sufficient amount of fat for the diet.

Cows were rarely butchered – first there was problem preserving the meat, second their milk was used for drinking and for making cheese and butter. Making cheese and butter from milk usually fell to the women.

The animals that were butchered included chickens, pigs and ducks.  In other words, things that had a high reproduction rate.  If you butcher a couple of pigs, they will reproduce in a matter of months.  Cows on the other hand took years to replace the butchered animals.

So why should a survivalist read a book on the middle ages or medieval times? Because life after some kind of long term SHTF or TEOTWAWKI might return to something like the middle ages. What kind of crops are the easiest to raise, what are the best uses of farm animals, which animals are the easiest to raise,,,,,. Instead of doing trial and error experiments, let the people from the medieval and middle ages do most of the work for you.

Lets take peas and beans for an example – by reading Life in a Medieval village, its become very clear that beans and peas have substantiated mankind for hundreds, if not thousands of years.  That means that you should have plenty of peas and beans as part of your survival garden seed stockpile.

Recommended survival manuals

If you were going to buy 5 books to prepare for a disaster – any disaster – which books would you buy? These books should be considered resource material, so that excludes works of fiction.

Here are some of the books I would consider:

1. The Bible – during times of stress, people often turn to their faith. Having a holy book around, can provide people with guidance and wisdom needed in stressful times. When an important decision comes up, just ask yourself, what would Jesus do? I feel that the teaching of Jesus and to love your neighbor is a reflection of mankind. Regardless of how some of us act, the majority of us feel love and compassion for our fellow man.

2. Squarefoot Gardening – few things makes us as independent as growing our own food. I’am willing to bet that most people are totally dependent on the grocery stores and fast food places for their meals. Take away those places, and most people would be like a dog at an empty food bowl – standing there whining that they do not have any food. Learning how to grow your own food breaks those bonds and sets you free.

3.  The Black Death: A Chronicle of the Plague – a powerful and riveting book that chronicles mankind during some of our darkest times. In all of recorded history, few disasters killed as many people as the Black Death, and few disasters made mankind stoop so low to survive. Stop and think for a minute, what would it be like to drive to the next town, and one a handful of people still be alive? However many people are in the town next to you, just think about all of them being dead – except for a few children that were next to the dead bodies of their parents. Well, stuff like that is what happened during the Black Death. Entire towns and families died off. Through their example, we can learn what to expect if another plague happens.

4. Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose – is the story of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and the journey through the American west. There are some interesting points in this book, like the party coming across Indian villages where everyone was dead – assumed killed by small pox,,,, or some other disease. Its the story of how a few men mad their way through frontier white men had never seen before.

5. Some kind of medical and first aid book – there are a lot of medical and first aid books out there, so I can not recommend and exact book. But when it comes time to treat a wound or illness, having some kind of resource material is a good asset.

Post your comments in this forum thread about good survival manuals.