• RAM

Professional Reading on Violence

Updated: Nov 3

I am often asked for book recommendations on the subject of self-protection. What follows is a suggested reading list on books related to prevailing in violent situations. What better way to spend a lockdown (other than training)?


There have been several authors who have greatly impacted my outlook on protection; defense; and survival. Not just in an intellectual sense, but in a very real way as I incorporated their advice, outlook and philosophies into the execution of my duties throughout my career. These authors include people like as Gavin De Becker, Dave Grossman, Chris Ranck-Buhr, Loren Christensen, Tim Larkin, and Laurence Gonzales. Some of their works have resided on my book shelf for years, others were more recent discoveries. All affected me profoundly. What follows is a partial list in random order of recommended books.

The Gift of Fear” by Gavin De Becker. How to listen to your instincts.

Protecting the Gift” by Gavin De Becker. Safety for children.

Deadly Force Encounters: What Cops Need To Know To Mentally And Physically Prepare For And Survive A Gunfight” by Loren Christensen. What to expect during and after violent encounters.

“On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace” by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, Loren Christensen. The effects of stress and the value of mental preparation.

When Violence is the Answer” by Tim Larkin. Combatives.

Dangerous instincts: How Gut Feelings Betray Us” by Mary Ellen O’Toole and Alisa Bowman. When emotion eclipses common sense by a former FBI profiler.

The Killer Across the Table: Unlocking the Secrets of Serial Killers and Predators” by John E. Douglas, Mark Olshaker. A look into the minds of some of society’s most prolific killers.

On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society” by Dave Grossman. Stress in combat.

The talent code: Greatness isn't born. It's grown. Here's How” by Daniel Coyle. An in-depth look into slow/deep training.

What Every Body is Saying” by Joe Navarro. How to read body language according to a former FBI Agent.

Meditations on Violence” by Rory Miller. Preparing for violent encounters.

How to Survive the Most Critical 5 Seconds of your Life” by Tim Larkin and Chris Ranck-Buhr. Combatives and the required mindset to win a violent encounter.

What You Don’t Know Can Kill You” by Marc MacYoung and Jenna Meek. Some of the legal pitfalls after a violent encounter.

Call Sign Chaos” by Jim Mathis. Leadership and preparation.

The Unthinkable—Who Survives when Disaster Strikes and Why” by Amanda Ripley. How we react in violent situations.

Put ‘em Down, Take “em Out! Knife Fighting Techniques from Fulsom Prison” by Don Pentecost. Knife fighting from a former convict.

Machiavellian Knife Combatives” by Scott Babb. Knife fighting.

Scientific Self-Defense” by William E. Fairbairn. Fighting techniques from the WWII.

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why” by Laurence Gonzales. An in-depth look at the characteristics of survival.

Thoughts on Violence by Chris Ranck-Buhr. Chris pens some excellent articles on violence and the human condition a couple of times each month and they can be found in the members area of the Injury Dynamics website. They are thought-provoking and always an interesting read.


And of course, my book "Seconds to Live or Die, Life-saving lessons from a former CIA Officer" which will be available on Amazon on 25 August 2020.


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