My Favorite Research Books: How to Survive on Land and Sea, By Frank C. Craighead, Jr., and John J. Craighead
Poor Mae and Creighton. I wrote my heroine and hero into extreme situations of physical endurance, and at one point even subjected them to eating grubs in order to survive. So where did I find all that gag-worthy information about human survival and what people can and can’t ingest into their fragile human bodies? I suppose such facts can be googled easily enough, but there’s nothing quite like cracking open a nice little book like How to Survive on Land and Sea to fully realize the arduous logistics involved in basic human survival.
I purchased this book years ago. In fact, it was originally published by the United States Naval Institute in 1943, but I own the fourth edition published in 1984. I bought it at Barnes and Noble, probably sometime in the early 2000s, and undoubtedly in their bargain book section considering the date. And yet the survival methods found in this book are tried and true and not subject to change from one decade to the next. I bought it solely to research how my characters could survive in extreme situations, most notably if they were forced to forage for food.
This handy little book gives general guidelines about myriad survival concerns, including but not limited to: fire-making, methods of catching fish, edible plants, using celestial bodies to orient one’s direction, water procurement, and so on. Creighton’s knowledge of fashioning fishing hooks out of thorns and roasting cattail roots came from said pages. Again, all things we can google, but it’s handy having all that information in one single, easily accessible book.
In the course of writing my current historical romance novel, Watermark, I’ve referenced the water survival sections of How to Survive on Land and Sea several times. Such information is handy, especially if you’re going to toss your hero and heroine into the Mississippi River in March and need to know how long they can stay immersed in forty-degree water before they risk hypothermia. Hey, I don’t claim to take it easy on my protagonists! Adversity builds character, not to mention attention-grabbing plots.
Now, if only the ill-fated Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater had information like that which is found in How to Survive on Land and Sea. They would’ve known it was hopeless to climb on that silly stateroom door, and they would’ve huddled instead. It cuts heat loss in half, folks! Poor Jack didn’t have a chance.
Interested in learning more? This book is still available for sale on Amazon by clicking here.