Beyond Survivorman is the behind-the-scenes story of Stroud’s excellent series Beyond Survival. It details his quest to spend time with indigenous peoples around the world and learn how they survived: physically, spiritually, and culturally.
But Beyond Survivorman is more than a simple travelogue. It is an intensely personal account of Stroud’s attempt to reconnect with the Earth, and of the constant battle between his natural skepticism and his desire to have an authentic, meaningful experience.
In addition, Beyond Survivorman features the incredible photography of Stroud’s long-time friend and crew member: Laura Bombier. This is one of the most distinctive aspects of the book.
The first thing that struck me about Beyond Survivorman was its beauty; this is one of the most gorgeous books I have ever seen.
Laura Bombier’s breathtaking photos adorn almost every page of Beyond Survivorman. Even when then they do not, the text sits atop cream-colored pages that feature an artistic fade pattern. There is not a single dull page in this book.
In addition to being visually stunning, Beyond Survivorman is also well-written. Stroud excels at getting his point across in a succinct, understandable manner. For someone who has spent the past 3+ years in academia, Stroud’s writing was a welcomed relief.
Then there is the actual substance of the book. As I mentioned above, Beyond Survivorman is not a typical behind-the-scenes story. While Stroud was embarking on a physical journey to film Beyond Survival, he was also undergoing a spiritual transformation. He brings readers along on this voyage, allowing them to experience his hopes, revelations, and frustrations.
Another crucial feature of Beyond Survivorman is that it is never sensationalistic. When Stroud participates in a ritual and nothing happens, he says so. When he has doubts about certain practices, he makes them clear. This lack of hype gives Stroud great credibility, and makes the eye-opening experience that he finally does have more believable.
Lastly, Beyond Survivorman is a book from which I drew personal lessons. Stroud’s talk of intentions, for example, served as an important wake-up call. It helped me realize that I was becoming too selfish, and too frustrated over not getting what I thought I deserved. Beyond Survivorman reminded me that what matters is to go into an activity with the desire to benefit others – not to earn a reward.
Beyond Survivorman is an excellently-written book. Stroud recounts his journey using words that are engaging, understandable, personal, and relatable. But Beyond Survivorman is more than just a book: it is a work of art. Bombier’s photographs and the layout of the text make for an intensely beautiful final product.
But please, make sure to read it!