English Review: 100 Deadly Skills by Clint Emerson

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A cozy afternoon spent reading.

Skill-books, Survival How-Tos and outdoor fibulas are everywhere these days. Apparently about half of the authors have some kind of military background, but that doesn’t save the books most of the time. While most of these books aren’t really worth a read I was hyped about  “100 Deadly Skills” by Clint Emerson.

The Author

Clint Emerson was Navy SEAL and also served in the generally beloved SEAL Team Six. After working for the NSA some time he then decided to make some of his skills and knowledge available to the public. It started with “Escape the Wolf,” a program supposed to help people traveling a lot to stay safe by being aware of their surroundings and behaving the right way.

A much broader spectrum of skills and knowledge is being taught in “100 Deadly Skills.”

100 Deadly Skills

The only problem I had reading this book is its title. Every now and then I read it on the subway, and most of the time I had to realize the person sitting next to me got a little panicky all of a sudden. Replacing deadly with awesome probably doesn’t sell as well…

In this book Clint Emerson describes 100 things that might be useful to the reader one day. The variety of topics is huge, the reader learns interesting details on self-defence, security at home and when traveling, a prototypical EDC-kit is laid out and we learn how to deal with several kinds of crises and emergencies. The book has something for all values on the extremity scale. Sending an e-mail anonymously has 3 points of potential 10, knocking an assailant clean out has six, getting rid of fingerprints by using medical drugs or hiding evasive tools where the sun don’t shine has eight points easily. And it gets better.

Considering the skills the book deals with it’s obvious that this isn’t a mere how-to manual. The book is supposed to make people think outside the box, because after all people are more likely to act calm and deliberate in a situation they already thought through. Also, it’s much easier to evade or counter bad guys if we understand their modus operandi. But all that doesn’t change the fact that this book has the appeal of a good adventure novel.

The idea behind the book is pretty straightforward: every spread contains one skill, on the left it’s being described in text, on the right the skill is illustrated and condensed in a very catchy manner. Here is a 101st bonus-skill as an example.

Because every skill is dealt with in a short and sufficient manner “100 Deadly Skills” is the perfect book to read every now and then. While this isn’t a classic compliment, the book is perfect toilet reading. Place it next to the Vanity Fairs and Esquires and maybe even your friends visiting might learn a little something when using your bathroom.

“100 Deadly Skills” is a compact paperback book and is thus easily carried around. When doing this it’s better to try not to bend the cover, which easily happens. Besides the skills the book also contains a short foreword, a recommended reading-list and a register.

Bottom Line

Anybody looking for a special kind of entertainment or wanting to acquaint himself with some outside the box-thinking will be happy with “100 Deadly Skills.” It’s a mixture of the charm of a Boy Scout-book and the Navy SEAL-fascination, but it’s not pretentious or laboredly tough guy. I hope to never use any of the skills in the book, but the stimulus alone justifies the acquisition and the read.

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