“Wyrd biõ ful ãræd.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Once Upon A Time - The Old American Survival Guide.



   Today there are so many Survival / Prepper magazines available in the United States that I honestly can't keep track of all of them, though I make herculean efforts to do so.

     In addition to general topic magazines on the subject, there are plenty of specialist magazines that focus on some particular aspect of survivalism, like primitive living or pioneer farming.

   It wasn't always so.  During the 1980's and right up til the end of the 1990's, being a survivalist wasn't  "cool."  There weren't any television shows about the subject, where today we're overrun with survival reality shows, survival "how to shows" and survival experts with their own programs.

Survivalists weren't mainstream, and the vast seething masses of Sheeple regarded them with a mixture of fear and amusement.  The internet in the 1980's wasn't what it is now. Instead of blogs and personal web pages, the main medium of communication was the "bulletin board" which was basically a chat room that wasn't real time.

Even so, there was one popular magazine that dealt with the subject.  A man named Jim Benson edited American Survival Guide.  It was a good magazine, maybe a little gun heavy but the targeted demographic was outdoors oriented white males, so that didn't hurt them.  I read the magazine assiduously, and kept my copies.  Then in early 2000 I lent most of them to a like minded fellow I knew here who got sick and was bed ridden. He was an Army veteran who had been seriously injured in Vietnam and never really recovered.  He enjoyed the magazine even if his relatives weren't all that keen on it or me.  When he passed away, instead of returning them they threw the magazines out. Stacks of them.

Since then I've been trying to help construct a complete set of the old magazines in PDF format. It's not easy.  When the magazine owner died, his daughter took over the publication. She was a "Brady Bunch" Sheeple, and she told Benson no more guns. In fact, she wanted the whole magazine turned into a family camping magazine.  Jim Benson quit, and the magazine went out of publication which was exactly what she wanted.  More, she has refused to sell the rights to publish the magazine on CD for commercial distribution, thereby depriving people of an easy way to obtain the magazine.


Some people who had copies began to lend them to people who had scanning equipment, and there are people out there who have some of the issues on PDF .  Due to privacy concerns on their behalf  there's not a lot I can say about that. It's perfectly legal to convert a magazine you own to pdf as long as you don't sell it.  Most of the people who have pdf files of the magazine have to mail them to you on a disk, and you can see how that could get out of hand in a big hurry. The idea is more a trickle down type of deal, where people help their friends and they help their friends, and so on.

If anybody else knows where any of these old magazines can be found in pdf format, I'd appreciate a heads up. I've got a good many of them, but I'm a long way from having a complete set.  It's not just a selfish "for me" issue.  The people who are collecting them know that they will never be available for purchase, and none of us want to see a good resource disappear because of one person's actions.


I have a different email for correspondence about this project. It's montanus2@hotmail.com.  If anyone knows of a source ,  I'd appreciate a heads up by email at that address.

30 comments:

  1. It's amazing how far the apple can fall from the tree. It would seem to me that unless it was a case of saving his shrunken head collection or his prize collection of pre-modern gynecological exam instruments, she would want to save the things that made her father happy.

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    1. Her politics were light years different from her fathers, from what I can tell. The family was apparently quite wealthy and she didn't need the money. I am pretty sure she was a Clinton era democrat. Liberals in general don't approve of people having thoughts that don't toe their world view line, and they never miss an opportunity to deprive others to make their own decisions. By killing the magazine she probably felt she was doing the drone culture a favor. And she probably was.

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    2. Is this it?

      http://www.stevespages.com/page7e.htm

      Scroll down past the first block. It's a different magazine.

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    3. Matt, that's one of the pages. It's a good start .

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    4. Hey, just noticed the April 1990 and June 1990 have ASG article Indexes for 8 years. April 1990 has '82-'85, June '86-'89. Pretty handy if you want to look up information quickly.

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    5. Indexes are always a big positive. I didn't realize that. Now I need to check and see if I have those editions, either pdf or paper.

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  2. I had a few years' worth of the late 80's copies. I loved them so much that I even made an index of all of the articles. But in my case, it was an ex-girlfriend moving out who took them with her. I didn't notice until it was too late. But she was hard-core survivalist so at least they didn't get wasted. And I got a couple of her Harley-Davidson manuals so it wasn't all one-sided. I do miss my Wooly-Pully sweater that she kept, though.

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    1. Sounds like she cleaned you out pretty good. Those kinds of things tend to go that way.

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  3. Unfortunately most of the TV survival series today, whether it is the Bush Hippie and his partner, Bear Gryls or the other Canadian fellow are just that, TV shows catering to the lowest common denominator. Fake as fake can be. I used to love to watch Ray Mears when they briefly had him on Discovery about ten years ago because he did not do the pretend scenarios, just taught skills. And before him when they had just about run out of Alby Mengles reruns there was the Rob Bredl the Barefoot Bushman. He was the best. In contrast to all the other "suck-the juice-out-of-an-elephant-turd" clowns, he was always coming up with some real good wilderness food. None of this eating bugs and rappelling down waterfalls to impress the 12 yr old audience. Might still find some of his videos on youtube.

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    1. I like Les Stroud, and I have enjoyed Cody Lundin not so much for his survival skills as for his colorful character. He is a bush hippy,as you say but he has a certain panache. Or at least he did until Dual Survival apparently drove him off the deep end.

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  4. I have a couple but not enough to help. If you are successful in this I'd love to get my hands on the end product.

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    1. If the collective effort is ever successful I'll try to help there. Let me know if you can find your issue numbers and I'll see if anyone I know is looking for them.

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  5. If you Google, say, "June 1987 American Survival Guide," you may find several hits that will be to your liking. I'd forgotten that website until Googling again just now, but yeah, I've found lots of back issues through them and articles I remember from back when I was in, well, high school. I have all of one paper copy of ASG left, which is from January 1983 and it's truly a snapshot of an interesting time-I'm no fashion plate, but I love the guy on the cover with the white-guy Afro tied in place with the blue bandanna, the Steiner binocular, and some kind of H & K G3 variant. KB

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    1. I'll go look. Lots of the magazines are for sale on ebay but they are expensive and then you have to touch base with a lot of people to see who, if anyone, needs that issue.

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  6. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)


    When I was a teenager (a thousand years ago) The magazine I read all the time was "Soldier of Fortune"
    In the early 80's, myself and a group of friends of mine were survivalist's after watching the move "Max Max, The Road Warrior and everyone's favorite, Rambo. Then there was the movie "Predator" and few others, oh' yeah' the big one. "Terminator"
    Later, discovered women, beer and bars in Mexico and forgot all about the survivalist stuff.

    Back to the Mosin Nagant Chronicle's.

    My rifle shoots three feet high like I said, and yeah' I did what I could to lower the rear sight as much as possible.
    I will do the scope thing. That should solve the problem a help my nearsighted eyes out.

    One more thing....

    Back to that survival magazine that went 'defunct' when the owner died and the daughter too over and ruined the magazine.
    I hope the daughter is around to see how big the prepper, survivalist's movement is.
    Its ironic that her Dad was right,

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  7. I don't think it was a money decision. My understanding,which is primarily based on forum conversations, is that she was vehemently opposed to any discussion of firearms , and not overly thrilled with the type of individual who bought the magazines. Although it is purely conjecture, and gun forum people may not be dispassionate about the issue, the general consensus is that she wanted to get rid of the magazine as soon as she took over the family publishing business, and she did so.
    Good luck on the scope mounting project. I'm sure with your tools and skills it will not be difficult for you to accomplish. Incidentally Soldier of Fortune is alive and well. I think Robert K.Brown is still editing it.

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    1. I've chatted with Benson JB a couple times over the years. The end times of the mag were sad. They couldn't show guns on the cover and their advertising was kinda blatantly promoted in articles. JB wound up doing an online version of the mag under a different name. Not sure how that has panned out. I had a couple milk crates full of the old ASG from the 80's and 90's sitting around for the longest time. I eventually boxed 'em up and mailed them off to someone who I thought might appreciate them.

      In the 80's, it was an awesome magazine. Also reminds me of the time RKBrown, of Soldier Of Fortune fame, tried making is own survivalist mag. It was noteworthy for the infamous cover photo of a cow wearing a gas mask. That one ran for about six issues and faded away, along with Brown's attempt to build is own survival retreat.

      Ah, the old days.

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    2. I wrote several articles for Jim Benson and his webzine, Modern Survival Guide. He was a great editor to work for. For one thing, though the magazine didn't pay a whole lot, he paid you right when the article published. Most publishers pay free lance writers when and if they feel like it. His webzine eventually disappeared and I haven't communicated with him for a long time. I respect and like the man and I hope he is doing well.

      The 80's were a pretty amazing time and a lot was going on in the culture then. Brown was a minor Godling with a huge following, especially among Vietnam vets that I knew.

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  8. I've scanned a single copy of a print magazine - wow, it was quite a chore, took about an hour for the 200 + page scan to get done. Scan - print - turn page - back to computer - print. And repeat. And so on. And so on.

    My knees took quite a beating. Beeman Air Rifle magazine I think it was. File was pretty big, way too big to send in email forms unless I broke it down to several files. I guess if you had a web site to host it, worth it but a lot of work.

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    1. Unfortunately the most time effective way for a small budget archivist (sounds much better than Copyright Infringer) to scan a book or magazine is to dismember it and slap it through a scanner with auto document feed.

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    2. Yep, but then you have to move the pages to the appropriate location. Page 5 on left side, page 125 on adjacent side. Ugh!

      Maybe I'm over thinking this but I believe that is the case with scanning books.

      Cutting the book apart at fold would work but then . . . no more hard copy. Which was the whole purpose of my keeping it in 1st place. But - it would be nice to move the pages so that all could be read in one go.

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    3. At least one individual who is part of this "self help project" has equipment that vastly scales down the time and effort required. He is a prickly fellow and you just never know what mood you will catch him in, but at the same time he has the most extensive collection I know of in pdf format. I am going to try to run him down and see what he has added since I last talked to him. The easiest way to get the magazines is if the person working the scanner will let you download them from a web page. But the individual I am thinking of sends his own personal stick drive and you download from that.

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  9. www.scribd.com has that "buck on..." something or other contributor who has scanned in a bunch of ASG magazines, Mister Flashman-I don't know how hard they are to print out or load into something, but they do claim to be in PDF format. I've browsed 'em before-very enjoyable, if occasionally dated material. KB

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    1. Harry to be exact it's:

      http://www.scribd.com/search-documents?query=American+survival

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    2. I appreciate that, fellows. Let me go look. What I am hoping is that if someone (me, for instance) can find enough individual efforts out there, then the complete set might actually be constructed and made available to all in an easy down load format. Or , if we could get even close, the missing issues could be purchased and sent to someone with modern scanning capability that addresses the issues in some of the comments above about time and how you can scan without destroying the original hard copy.

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  10. Don't know if this would be helpful but I am a subscriber to Self Reliance Illustrated yet wanted them in PDF. Turns out they put them online for free. New issues tend to show up shortly after the next issue is out (21 is current so when 22 comes out 21 will be available in pdf at the same place, just increment the last link). They made it very hard to find on their site so I hope this saves others some frustration.

    http://www.selfrelianceillustrated.com/assets/sri1.pdf
    http://www.selfrelianceillustrated.com/assets/sri2.pdf
    http://www.selfrelianceillustrated.com/assets/sri3.pdf
    http://www.selfrelianceillustrated.com/assets/sri4.pdf
    http://www.selfrelianceillustrated.com/assets/sri5.pdf
    http://www.selfrelianceillustrated.com/assets/sri6.pdf
    http://www.selfrelianceillustrated.com/assets/sri7.pdf
    http://www.selfrelianceillustrated.com/assets/sri8.pdf
    http://www.selfrelianceillustrated.com/assets/sri9.pdf
    http://www.selfrelianceillustrated.com/assets/sri10.pdf
    http://www.selfrelianceillustrated.com/assets/sri11.pdf
    http://www.selfrelianceillustrated.com/assets/sri12.pdf
    http://www.selfrelianceillustrated.com/assets/sri13.pdf
    http://www.selfrelianceillustrated.com/assets/sri14.pdf
    http://www.selfrelianceillustrated.com/assets/sri15.pdf
    http://www.selfrelianceillustrated.com/assets/sri16.pdf
    http://www.selfrelianceillustrated.com/assets/sri17.pdf
    http://www.selfrelianceillustrated.com/assets/sri18.pdf
    http://www.selfrelianceillustrated.com/assets/sri19.pdf
    http://www.selfrelianceillustrated.com/assets/sri20.pdf

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    1. Thanks for the heads up. That's a magazine I've been considering starting to read regularly and being able to do so in pdf format is a real boon.

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  11. In the 1980s you also have Jerry Pournelle as the editor and writer for "Survive" magazine. Given that "Lucifer's Hammer" game out in the late 1970s, there must have been a little interest in the magazine. But I don't see any copies online.

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    1. Russell, I don't think I ever heard of that magazine. Pournelle isn't the same Purnelle who used to write science fiction short stories about that time , is he?

      In the 1980's there was only one grocery store in this county and it didn't sell magazines, so I probably missed it. I did get some others by subscribing, things like Soldier of Fortune and American Survival Guide.

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