This sex doll may save your life: The Book of Survival by Anthony Greenbank

(Hatherleigh Press, 2004, Third revised edition)

I enjoy checking out survival and wilderness manuals from time to time, but most are kinda boring. I mean, they all feature pretty much the same info. For practical purposes you don’t need to look far beyond a couple of titles, like “Lofty” Wiseman’s SAS Survival Manual or the US Army’s survival manual (published in civilian formats and available online for free around the internet), but sometimes you come across a survival book that’s just…well, different. Enter The Book of Survival by Anthony Greenbank.

I don’t know too much about Anthony Greenbank, except that I think he’s a British journalist and outdoors type of guy. The Book of Survival was originally introduced in the late ’60s. This edition I read is the 3rd edition, written to accommodate situations that are relevant to a post-9/11 world. For the most part, The Book of Survival is like other survival manuals. There are sections on land navigation, first aid, water collection, all that good stuff that every other survival book has and most of the info is pretty sound. There are also sections on avoiding fire and dangerous crowds, self defense and other things that pertain to the average urban dweller and this, too, is mostly sound information.

But then there are some sections that are pretty goofy. I daresay, downright weird. Take this bit, for example:


Use any means to give yourself company if in doubt (even speaking into the end of a fist-held-spectacle-case as a pretend-mobile-phone).



BUY balloons/protective sheaths/plastic bags and blow them up and stuff them down the sleeves and inside the space of a buttoned-up coat/jacket/sweater…

I actually think I saw that in a sitcom once. Here is another tip that may save your life:


The best way to survive any attack/assault/trouble from other human beings is by avoiding last-ditch measures at all costs. It is only by blending with the wallpaper that you can survive in the city and other environments where a mass of people pose unknown threats in all directions.

Example: in bad areas with cheap accommodation and poor locks on bedroom/apartment/house doors and windows save a heart-pounding-as-you-screw-your-eyes-shut-feigning-sleep-while-a-flashlight-dazzles-your-face situation.

Go to sleep wearing a balaclava/monkey mask/ski hat to get this response:

“Jeez, man, hey take a look, wilya?” breathes the voice. There’s a sharp intake of breath. Another voice whispers, “You, one of us! A Brother!”

And your wallet on the dresser is left untouched. Such a ruse has worked.

Taken to extremes, such chameleon-like behavior may seem humorous.

But it is deadly serious.

Yeah, besides all the normal survival stuff, there are a bunch of sections that detail techniques of dubious value, all written in that choppy technical manual tone and arbitrary use of upper-case letters. There is a section entitled “CHILD’S HEAD STUCK BETWEEN RAILINGS” (another sitcom scenario). Greenbank lets you know how to differentiate a REAL ghost from your own imagination. The dangers of holiday turkeys are detailed and we are instructed on precisely how to place one into an oven without injuring our backs (also beware: overcooked turkeys may burst into flame as they are full of grease!). There is a (rather long) section on amputating your own limbs in an emergency. Also, we learn how to deal with “natives” (“…Be friendly…Aim to see headman…Give gifts…Respect customs…” etc.). I don’t think that situation comes up too often, unless you’re in an Abbott and Costello movie or something.

The verdict: ★★✩✩✩ (2/5). This book is a hoot. It’s great fun to read and there is worthwhile information in there, but let’s face it, it’s hard to take seriously when the goofy stuff in mixed in. As far as survival books go, there are others far better, hence my 2-star rating. But I do recommend checking the book out for fun.

Anthony Greenbank has apparently authored another book about urban survival written in the early ’70s (Survival in the City, or something like that) in which he instructs the reader on how to escape muggers, turn the tables on pickpockets and avoid the advances of aggressive transvestites! I must find that book. It sounds too wacky to pass up!

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