Making the Best of Basics is the family preparedness handbook by James Talmage Stevens. It should be in every prepper’s survival library, but especially so if you’re new to prepping.
James Talmage Stevens, also known as Doctor Prepper, was my guest on DestinySurvival Radio. We discussed his book and why it’s still relevant today after roughly four decades.
Making the Best of Basics was first written in 1974. Though that first edition was put together rather crudely by today’s standards, it immediately sold thousands of copies.
The gas crisis of the mid 1970’s happened about that time, and demand for the book was so great that new copies couldn’t be printed fast enough.
James Talmage Stevens is no newcomer to prepping. His book has obviously stood the test of time. And it’s a preparedness industry best seller because people still want to know about the basics of preparedness. The essentials for survival don’t change.
This book is necessary today because we’re far removed from the basic survival skills possessed by American pioneers and even our grandparents.
In this family preparedness handbook, Stevens draws on several decades of his own experiences to put together credible and usable information for prepping. He believes anyone, regardless of experience, can put together an effective plan for personal and family preparedness.
When it comes to preparedness, you and I must know what we want and need and know how to sort those things out. Stevens says food and water are actually farther down the list than some other things. The book helps you plan things out to suit your needs. Start with the basics and work up from there.
There are numerous helpful charts in Making the Best of Basics. It covers quite an array of topics, including:
• How to manage your long-term storage
• Locating, purifying, and storing water
• Step-by-step guide to healthy kitchen gardening
• The basics of wheat, sourdough, and flour cookery
• In-home drying of fruits and vegetables
…and much more!
Even with all this, Stevens says nobody knows it all and no book has it all. We’re all different with varying situations and needs. But his book helps guide you toward the prepping that will work best for you.
He says one criticism he has received is that there’s too much in the book about food. For example, there are seven chapters on wheat. You’ll also discover things like how to make cheese from dry milk.
Everybody has to eat. Food is obviously an important subject. And in Making the Best of Basics you can find out how to have food without electricity. And that’s important for any short or long term survival situation.
Years back before he wrote the book, Stevens asked his parents for help. He was out of a job and had a family to feed. His mother sent a box of hand written family recipes and a cookbook. The message: Act on what you already know.
His philosophy since has been to store what you eat, and eat what you store. But he went on to say, Use it or lose it. Put your prepping skills into practice now, rather than wait until some big event happens. You may have food and equipment handy, but will you know what to do with it all when the time comes?
Even more important is the need to be emotionally and spiritually prepared. Have the heart felt conviction that you need to take care of and protect yourself and your family. Are you prepared to act upon what you know and are learning? Are you driven to become as independent of the system as you can?
Stevens encourages self reliance rather than self sufficiency because no one can be completely independent.
Prepping requires commitment. It’s a lifestyle. But Stevens doesn’t believe in prescribing the lifestyle. It’s not about making the plan for preparedness, but a plan for preparedness. He relates in his book the things that do work. He’s very conscientious about giving out credible information.
Once you get started prepping, you’ll discover the value to you, and you’ll want to continue on. The most important thing is to get started now.
Shelter is an obvious need because we all have to live somewhere. Can you provide shelter for yourself and your family or friends when the need arises?
Stevens doesn’t plan to leave his home in difficult times. He studied out the area where he wanted to be and plans to remain there. He feels confident in his preparedness efforts at his location.
Stevens sees the world as a battle of good and evil. His book is designed to help people prepare to live in such a world. He says if you can eat when others are standing in a bread line, you’re strong.
And don’t count on government being there to help you out. They’re simply not equipped for that. They’ll protect themselves first.
Even though there’s been an awakening to preparedness in recent times, the majority of the population still isn’t prepared. Many still aren’t listening. We’re becoming more polarized.
But you can be prepared. Doing so will give you peace of mind and satisfaction.
If you’re new to prepping, you need credible guidance you can count on. Begin with the basics and work your way onward from there. Start today with Making the Best of Basics.
Note: The original link for our conversation on the March 10, 2011 edition of DestinySurvival Radio no longer works. If you want to hear the show, use the contact form to ask about making arrangements to receive the MP3 file.