Surviving Hostage Situations

Surviving Hostage Situations coverSurviving Hostage Situations
Spear & Moak

Submitter: Given the cover photo, I was surprised that it wasn’t older. You can read this book to learn how to attack your kidnapper, escape safely from captivity, deal with a hijacker on board an airplane, build your own safe room (hermetically sealed to prevent chemical attacks, don’t you know?), and more!

Favorite artwork: — the eyeball gouging technique; selecting a hiding place (“Look how much fun we’re having kids!”); the Ninja-like rescue attempt; and the Japanese Red Army skyjacking (what on earth is the female passenger on the right wearing — go go boots and a bikini top? I don’t even know where to begin on the cover photo as it’s hilarious on so many levels, and I certainly don’t think that was the authors’ intention. At the end, the authors have thoughtfully included several appendices, including one titled “A fill-in-the-blanks family contingency plan for hostage situations.” Just what every American family needs.

I honestly can’t understand why anyone would have purchased this for a public library.  (Did we sit around 25 years ago in a constant state of paranoia, worrying about being kidnapped?)  I simply can’t imagine a patron checking this out and taking it home to review with the kids.  Leafing through this book reminded me of the Cold War era when school children were taught how to hide under their desks in the event of a nuclear attack and every school had a fallout shelter.

Holly: I can see teachers checking this out as part of a lesson, but not in the last 15 years. All of the real-life hostage situations that have happened since 1989 in the world news have made some of the examples in this book obsolete. Getting into an airplane cockpit, for example, is much more difficult now. The idea for the book is ok for public libraries, but this one is too old (and, yes, a bit over-dramatic in delivery).

Surviving Hostage Situations eye gouge

Japanese Red Army Sky Jack

Surviving Hostage Situations planning the escape

Surviving Hostage Situations The safe room

Surviving Hostage Situations appendix


  1. That art style looks an awful lot like the style used in some role playing game books from that era. I looked up the artist but I don’t think he did work in the game industry. Still, his style would be at home in several games that I own.

  2. Is it wrong that I literally lol’d at the cover? And I love the matter of fact way it instructs “popping his eyeballs out of his head”.

  3. Look at that happy family, safely ensconced in the closet…. Wouldn’t someone looking for hostages look there first? Seriously, I don’t recall the 1980s or 90s as being particularly prone to kidnapping or hostage situations enough to warrant the publication of this book. I don’t suppose there’s anyone still at that library who would know why it was ordered….

  4. I’ll give you that the artwork is trash. However, hostage situations are not just Cold War era paranoia, you know? The submitter makes it sound as though they’re the invention of some frightened lunatic. If not for the ridiculous cover photo, I could definitely see myself picking this up to browse through it for self-defense and hiding spots.

  5. Those illustrations are PRICELESS. I can’t imagine anyone, child or adult, would pay the least attention to the writing when there are illustrations like these to look at. The eye gouging! The disco rave on the plane! The weird crotch bulge and mismatched elevations in the throat-jabbing demonstration! The tiny man jumping through the window!

    Also, I do think there’s some connective tissue regarding eyeballs. They’re not just, like, floating in there.

  6. yes, thank you to everyone who has pointed out that the “technique” illustrated would not, in fact, pop anyone’s eyeballs “right out of [their] head.” the anatomy of the eyes doesn’t permit this AT ALL.

    a lot of the other advice in this book is of similarly dubious quality. I think the “Japanese red army” thing gives it away–this is a crank “survivalist” manual published by a hole-in-the-wall publisher, and not even one with underground cool cred like Loompanics. hardly reliable or useful.

    why did the library have this in the first place? couldn’t they have bought a book published by a more reliable, accountable source?

  7. Fear has always been with us and it looks like it always will.
    In college, we were taught to defend ourselves against rapists. Our students were often mugged. (City campus.)
    Then there is the fear that leads so many people to buy firearms.
    There are neighborhood watches. Airport security lines that strip us of our shoes and our shampoo. Government agencies that vacuum up our communications data. Advice to store supplies for weather emergencies.
    Some of this is reasonable fear and some of it may be paranoia, but it’s human. I would actually expect books like this to circulate well in public libraries.

  8. Oh wow, is it really wrong that I burst out laughing at the illustration of a ‘rescue attempt’?

  9. I prefer “The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook” myself. It has bears and quicksand, and is therefore cooler.

  10. The rescue attempt looks like one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles jumping through the window.

  11. What does it say about the portrayal of women too. First the aforementioned woman in bikini top and gogo boots and the flight attendants leg peeking out from behind the corner. Then in Rescue Attempt, all the men are dressed and the woman is again wearing some kind of flimsy top and fishnet stockings!

  12. Do members of the Japanese Red Army always wear suits and ties to sky jack planes?

  13. The picture’s not very clear but at a glance the guy on the cover reminded me of Michael Praed (sp?) who played Robin Hood in that eighties Carpenter series…. which indicates he’ll only kidnap the rich and give them to the poor or so.

    The eyes-gouging….yuck….

  14. From the topic and the overall design style, I’m going to guess it’s from Paladin Press.

    And I’m another one who burst out laughing at the “Rescue Attempt”. All it needs is a speech balloon: HIYAAAAA!!!!!

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