98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive (referred to from here on as Cody’s book) is probably the best survival book I’ve read. There are a few reasons… First, it does one thing and does it very well. A lot of books I’ve read try to do too many things and as a result fail to do any of them very well. Second, the author is a bona fide primitive skills and survival expert. This book is full of information based on actual research and experience, not (as he puts it) copied from the old Air Force survival manual. Third, the information given is well researched. Fourth, the information is presented in an easily readable, entertaining style. Finally, unlike some survival authors, Mr. Lundin doesn’t come off as an arrogant prick. He’s very down to earth, seems like someone I’d enjoy hanging out with.
98.6 – The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive, part one
- Foreword, Check This Out!, and Why a Survival Kit? make up the introduction to Cody’s book and cover the what, why, and how. Even though it’s “just” the introduction, it’s worth reading because it will give you insight into the rest of the book
- Survival Situations: How Do They Start? – Chapter 1 could have been titled “Don’t Be Stupid.” If everyone followed the advice in this chapter, the rest of the book might not be needed (just kidding).
- Survival vs. Primitive Living, or “Living Off the Land” – Chapter 2 is a great discussion on surviving (i.e. Keeping Your Ass Alive) vs “primitive way more than survival skills.” Since Mr. Lundin teaches both, I trust him way more than many of the “survival experts” I’ve read in print or online. I’m pretty sure a lot of Sacred Cows died in the writing of Chapter 2…
- Survival Psychology and the Importance of Proper Prior Training – Chapter 3 talks about the importance of (proper) attitude, (correct) training, repetition, and practicing your skills. I’m sure you’ve encountered “keyboard commandos” who love to brag about all their cool gear but haven’t ever used it except maybe to jerk off over. This chapter helps you see how full of crap those kind are.
- Why Fear Sucks – Chapter 4 explains the negative effects that fear will have on your ability to live through a survival situation AND teaches you how to not succumb to fear.
- Dealing with the Survival Scenario: Attitude, Adaptation, and Awareness – Chapter 5 teaches the importance of a positive attitude, developing the skills to adapt to different situations (vs. relying on “more stuff”), and the importance of situational awareness.
- Reducing the Threat of the Survival Situation: The 7 Ps – Chapter 6 discusses the physical aspect of preparing to keep your ass alive in a survival situation.
- What it Takes to Stay Alive – Chapter 7 does a great job of tying together the first part of Cody’s book. After reading part 1 you should have a good idea of what it takes to keep your ass alive in a survival situation
The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive, part two
- The Most Common Way to Push Up Daisies in the Outdoors – Chapter 8 explains the most common ways to die in a survival situation. Guess what? It’s not grizzly bears or brain eating zombies. It’s not being swept away in a tidal wave or avalanche. It’s not even falling off a cliff. The reality is much more boring – simple exposure. I expect more sacred cows lost their lives in the writing of this chapter.
- How Your Body Loses and Gains Heat – Chapter 9 explains the physiology of why you might get hypothermia or hypothermia in preparation for Chapter 10.
- Your First Line of Defense – Chapter 10 teaches you how to stay cool in hot weather and warm in cold weather. It goes into great detail on clothing choices. It explains climate acclimation. It tells you how to generate heat and stay hydrated and lots more. This is one of the longest chapters in the book and should be studied closely.
- About Your Rescuers – Chapter 11 talks about Search and Rescue (SAR) operations from the perspective of the rescuers. The information in this chapter will help you avoid doing stupid things that will make it harder for your rescuers to find you.
- Helping Rescuers Bring You Back Alive – Chapter 12 expands greatly on Chapter 11. Besides helping you avoid doing stupid things, it gives you proactive steps to help your rescuers find you. Hopefully while you’re still alive.
The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive, part three
- What is a Survival Kit? – After explaining how to stay alive and get found, Chapter 13 explains what a survival kit is. Not only that, but things you need to consider when putting together your personal kit.
- Survival Kit Components – Chapter 14 is my favorite chapter in the book. In this chapter, Cody gives a detailed description for every item in his survival kit. Not only that, but also detailed reasoning on why each item is included in the kit. In my opinion, this chapter is a “must read” for anyone putting together their own survival kit.
The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive, part four
Chapters 15 and 16 wrap up the book. Chapter 15 is Cody’s final thoughts on the book. Chapter 16 is a summary of the first 3 parts and info on choosing an instructor if you decide that formal, in person training is something you want.
Cody’s book, my final thoughts
I love this book. It’s the best written survival book I’ve read, and I’ve read a few. The writing style and illustrations make it fun to read, not just informative. Most of the Chapters are short, but all are packed with good information and solid advice. On a scale of 1 – 10, I give 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive a 10. That’s not an exageration either. Cody’s book really is that good, especially compared to some of the other survival books on the market.