Prepper Book Festival 8: Making the Best of Basics

Gaye LevyGaye Levy | Jul 1, 2019
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In a couple of days, the United States will be celebrating Independence Day, commonly referred to as the 4th of July.  It seems only right that we recognize the significance of that day and of this moment in history with something special.  To my way of thinking, we need to celebrate our own efforts toward become self-reliant and secure in the fact that we can take care of ourselves in all but the most dire of emergencies.

It is for that reason I have held back the final entry in Backdoor Survival Prepper Book Festival 8 until this week.  With extreme delight and pleasure, I am sharing a very special interview with the grand-pappy of all preparedness manuals, James Talmage Stevens, who is more commonly known as Doctor Prepper.

Making the Best of Basics - Backdoor Survival

James has been writing about and promoting family preparedness since 1974 – long before the term “prepper” was a part of our vocabulary.  Think about it.  That was over 40 years ago!

Of course we have a giveaway, too.  James is giving away 3 copies of the digital download version of his book, Making the Best of Basics: Family Preparedness Handbook.  The fantastic thing about the digital version is that it includes a bonus preparedness library of over 500+ PDF documents.  Talk about having everything in one place.

Enjoy the interview then be sure to check in below to learn about the giveaway.

An Interview with James Talmage Stevens

James, we have been friends for a long time yet I still do not know your full story.  For the benefit of both myself and the Backdoor Survival readers, please tell us about yourself and how you came to be “Doctor Prepper”.

I grew up in the post-WW II ex-urban lifestyle that included living by self-reliance principles. Our family lived the preparedness lifestyle long before it was considered an attribute! On the farm of my maternal grandfather, we lived pretty much off the land. As children, we played outside on haystacks and inside the barns we climbed into the hayloft, swung from the beams, and played all kinds of hide-and-seek games.

We raised chickens, pigs, cows, horses, and raised crops we could grow, preserve, and store. We also raised family-size crops of corn, sugar cane, peas, beans, carrots, squash, onions, cucumbers, and hot peppers––don’t forget the okra and eggplant!

Everything went into a bottle––I actually thought food grew in bottles in the dark of the basement until I was 7-8 years old! It was in the late summer after my 8th birthday that I found out how all those fruits and veggies got into those bottles in the basement storeroom. Then came the summer when my parents and my grandmother determined I was old enough to learn how to plant and tend the garden, pick the vegetables, and participate in the canning, bottling, and pickling––and let’s not forget hauling the jars to the basement!

After several years of sharing the farm with our grandparents, our family moved to a larger house on less land farther out of the city. A yard garden, in-home food production, and food preservation continued to be part of life until my college days some years later.

In January 1974 I developed Making the Best of Basics—Family Preparedness Handbook as a post-college project while looking for a corporate job, since I had just finished graduate school. The 1st Edition of “Basics” was a self-published enterprise, approximately 200 pages, hand-typed on a portable typewriter, printed on one side from paper masters on a lithograph machine, hand-collated, and then assembled around an eight-sided table in our own dining room. The pages were held together in one corner by a split brass pin through a hole drilled with a ¼” drill––in my garage! The first 1,100 printed copies of “Basics” sold for $2, and entirely sold out in just a few hours on one Saturday afternoon!

With such early success and requests for additional copies, we boldly decided to print more! The 2nd printing of 5,000 copies––printed on both sides of the paper and glued onto the cover––sold out in 8 days! For the next few months, several printings and revisions magically sold and the printer was kept working overtime.

After I completed graduate school, I turned corporate, gaining ground on being an 8-5 executive, and could no longer keep up with publishing the book, so I turned it over to a business partner to develop. It wasn’t too long before he lost interest as market demand lessened, and so I was soon out of the book business altogether. We moved a couple of times, hauling our stuff and our 6 children, eventually arriving in San Antonio TX in 1982. Years later, in 1994, some people contacted me to acquire the rights to the book, and having recently had some insurmountable marital, job-related, and financial difficulties all at once, I decided to check out the book’s potential to determine its market value before committing to a selling price.

It was the beginning of the Y2K problem era. I visited a few survivalist and gun shows in the Texas area, then printed some of the chapters and began selling them for $2-$3 each. As I made the rounds of these weekend shows, I began collecting vendor data which I compiled into a small booklet, and sold that information to other vendors and attendees. It dawned on me that no one had assembled such information about preparedness, so I decided to do just that––the rest is history with the return of “Basics!” I became seriously engaged in getting back on the street with a revised 10th edition.

When the then-new, greatly revised, and updated 10th edition of Making the Best of Basics was introduced, I returned to the in-home production and food storage industry––now the Preparedness Industry–– full-time from 1995 to 2000. My wife and I were frequent participants in preparedness trade shows and industry events throughout the US and Canada. We presented seminars and workshops on preparedness issues. I became a keynote speaker at preparedness shows and a guest on more than a hundred TV programs and thousands of radio talk shows throughout the US. A nationwide Christian TV channel ran my preparedness video nightly for most of the year during 1999!

The 10th Edition of “Basics” was written for the previous generation. Now it appears the need for self-reliance may be even more important tomorrow than today––as we face the newest problems of natural disasters such as weather-related and geological conditions, people-caused disasters such as the dipping economy, increasing political polarity problems, unprecedented stock market and investment corruption, entire industry losses, and business failures, and personal disasters such as job loss, divorce, death in the family, accidents, and the effects from the previously-mentioned natural and people-caused disasters.

With the ever-increasing personal disasters people are facing, family preparedness is a necessary lifestyle––and everyone creates his own!

After retiring in 1999, I was often asked by many of my friends, several publishers, former distributors, and preparedness retailers to return “Basics” to the marketplace. It is not what I had planned for my future. But then, none of us saw the 911 event or the economic conditions this country has faced since then.

As life unfolds, there is even more need to become prepared for the uncertain future––and for the certain future, too! We are constantly upgrading the information to help people organize their life and their lifestyle to meet the demands of the political, financial, economic, moral, and evil in the world today. Now that the 13th Edition of Making the Best of Basics has been published for this generation, I have come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter what causes the need to be prepared––

If you are prepared, you need not fear!

The Giveaway

Here is the part you have been waiting for.  Three copies are up for grabs and the entry process is going to be a cinch.  Plus, to make this special, you can make a “free for everyone” entry once a day for the duration of the giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The deadline is 6:00 PM Pacific next Tuesday with the winner notified by email and announced on the Rafflecopter in the article.  Please note that the winner must claim their book within 48 hours or an alternate will be selected.

The Final Word

I am frequently asked to recommend the best books out there for the preparedness library.  That is a tough question because there are so many quality books on the market these days.  That said, without exception, I always include Making the Best of Basics in my list of recommendations.  My own copy sits right next to me on my desk and I refer to it frequently.  When I am stumped, that is often the first place I look.

In closing, I encourage you to enter the giveaway to win a copy of Basics of your own.  Or, if you want the print or DVD version, take advantage of the special 50% discount offer that is currently available exclusively to Backdoor Survival readers.

Enter the code “present” (without the quotes) at checkout and a 50% discount will be applied.  I assure you, will not be disappointed in Making the Best of Basics.

Note:  Due to a technical glitch, the discount code “present” is not working for some readers,  As an alternative, use the code “backdoor” (no quotes).  I apologize for the inconvenience and am working on fixing the problem.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider voting for Backdoor Survival daily at Top Prepper Websites!  In addition, SUBSCRIBE to email updates  and receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

Spotlight:  Doctor Prepper’s Making the Best of Basics Family Preparedness Handbook

Family preparedness guide for the 21st century. With more than 800,000 books previously sold this book sets the preparedness industry standard. Given today’s uncertainty whether caused by natural, man-caused (such as financial, economic, or political activity), or personal disasters you can’t afford to be unprepared.

Shop Emergency Essentials Sales for Fantastic Deals!

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If you want the security of being able to live from your personal resources for as long as needed, regardless of external condition, Making the Best of Basics will guide your family in becoming prepared.

So here is the deal.  I have made arrangements with Doctor Prepper to offer a special 50% off discount on all versions of his book, including print, DVD, and digital download (eBook).  That means that instead of paying $39.95 per copy, your price will be $19.97.  To the best of my knowledge, this is one of the best, if not the best, deals out there for Making the Best of Basics.

All you need to do to take advantage of this discount is to use the code present at check out.  Easy peasy.

Note:  Due to a technical glitch, the discount code “present” is not working for some readers,  As an alternative, use the code “backdoor” (no quotes).  I apologize for the inconvenience and am working on correcting the problem.


For your convenience, here is a list of all of the books in the current Backdoor Survival Prepper Book Festival.

Prepper Book Festival 8 – Non-Fiction

Tools for Survival: What You Need to Survive When You’re on Your Own
The Organic Canner
The NEW 2000-Hour Flashlight
The Garden Pool – Feed Your Family From Your Backyard Ecosystem
Survival Savvy Family: How to Be Your Best During the Absolute Worst
Doctor Prepper’s Making the Best of Basics Family Preparedness Handbook
The Prepper’s Financial Guide
Practical Prepping: No Apocalypse Required: An Everyday Approach to Disaster Preparedness

Prepper Book Festival 8 – Fiction

After the Crumble (Volume 1)
A Time to Endure (Strengthen What Remains)
Aftermath: A Story of Survival
Resurrecting Home: A Novel (The Survivalist Series)
Game Changer

Plus: The Preppers Guide to Food Storage

No list of books would be complete without my own book, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage.  The eBook print version is available.

Help support Backdoor Survival. Purchases earn a small commission and for that I thank you!


A Prepper’s Guide to Whole Food at Half the Price – Now Available

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50 Responses to “Prepper Book Festival 8: Making the Best of Basics”

  1. Thank you for the chance to read more of this through the book.. I’m learning so much here…

  2. my home is off the road in a nice rural area …this is where I would like to stay

  3. My dream location is pretty much anywhere warm, but not hot.

  4. Arkansas

  5. Looks like the coupon code ‘present’ for Doctor Prepper is no longer available. That was a quick deal they gave you.

    • Thanks for letting me know. I tested it when I wrote the article and it was working. I just put a call in to James to see what is going on. Thanks for letting me know. I will check back in when it is fixed.

    • I tried also and it’s not working for me either

    • Sorry for the glitch. For the short term, the code “backdoor” (no quotes) is working. Thank your for your patience – sometimes I hate computers!

    • Sorry for the glitch. For the short term, the code “backdoor” (no quotes) is working. Thank your for your patience – sometimes I hate computers!

  6. South Dakota.

  7. A local mountain, its 5,000 feet high, very small community, lots of natural water, streams,deer, turkeys etc.

  8. that is a really hard question for me. ideally I’d love the Hawaiian islands but then don’t like the weather options there. guess i would take my chances in Texas someplace rural in mid Texas area. no flooding from hurricanes but rain from the bands of weather.

  9. Rural property here in Missouri.

  10. My “dream” location is anyplace where my family is. I don’t care what’s happening, I would not want to be away from my children

  11. My dream location would be in a log cabin in the woods with plenty of land to live off of, and with rivers & ponds. Also not to hot or too cold

  12. No specific location as of yet. Looking for a spot that has good running water, large amount of forested land, Some elevated level land for structure, garden, and observation of surrounding areas, with only one or two routes of access.

  13. Another book I need for my collection.

  14. The Adirondack mountain area

  15. I need more sensible survival books……I made it to the mountains, now I need to know how to survive up here!

  16. I grew up spending summer’s at my great-grandparents farm, where they farmed in a like way. They had a 200 square foot garden, that had fed them and their kids, ( all 12 of them), and still they kept it going. That, foraging, livestock, hunting, and fishing. They were still doing all of that, when I last visited them, to introduce them to their first great-great-grandchild. I was the first great-grandchild. Living in the city, the family still bought veggies, and fruits, directly from farms, by the bushels, to can, and kept a smaller garden. Living that way now is called prepping, but it was called, being smart, back then. The book sounds like one everyone should have, or get a copy of. A good one to give kids just leaving home, to start their own lives. Thank you for the opportunity to win the book.

  17. New Zealand – probably a lot less fall-out

  18. Western Slope of Colorado – not too high (cold) or too low (hot)- with fertile land and good water source.

  19. Some place remote with no neighbors.

  20. To be on my OWN land, even if we were to live in a tent. Gayle, thank you for the interview, the info, and the opportunity to have his book.

  21. I’d like to be near my family. They live in a rural Midwest area so that would be perfect.

  22. My dream location would be a place here that had enough land, water to sustain my (extended family. Protected from intruders, good soil, good sunshine, and wind to power the solar grid and wind turbine I would have on the property and most importantly PAID OFF!

  23. The Smokies!!

  24. Originally, I thought about the area between I-5 and the Pacific coast, either in Oregon or Washington. However, in the event of a disaster, there’s a very large population from either Seattle or Portland that would head my way. So, I’ll have to choose a little more inland, with central or northern Idaho. Heavily forested, plenty of water, good growing season and soil, and lots of animals. Not too mention, if time is on your side, you could even try panning for some gold or silver.

  25. We’re living in our dream location on 7 acres in wooded rural northern Minnesota. Lots of game, fishing the “Land of 10,000 lakes”, garden, fruit trees, etc. Don’t want to be anywhere else!

  26. A dream site would be pretty much as I am. In A semi-remote area with small towns not too close.

  27. Northwoods Wisconsin.

  28. Rural, warm, nuclear free

  29. Somewhere with moderate weather, access to good water, secluded, defensible with plenty of money to buy solar, supply and comfort! Somewhere with family!

  30. On my own land ‘homestead’

  31. I live in the Ozarks of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. Best for now.

  32. Someplace with a bit more secluded land than what we have now. With more trees for firewood and land for animal to be hunted on. Further south then we are now so we wouldn’t have to deal with as much snow as we do.

  33. We would choose the Glade area of western Colorado for the same reasons as used above for the Western Slope of Colorado. :0)

  34. Out of the way rural location with a good water source and lots of trees that provide natural cover from the sky.

  35. My dream location would be the cabin I’m planning to build in the mountains near where I live. Fresh water, game, shade, who needs more?

  36. I think Missouri, Arkansas, or Kentucky. I live in Ky now, but I think I would rather live further out into the mountains.

  37. Kentucky would be good but I worry about the close proximity to the large east coast population centers.

  38. As great as this country is compared to the rest of the world, I still think my ideal place would be New Zealand.

  39. Maybe somewhere in the Washington Oregon area where winters are pretty mild- lots of trees, close proximity to the ocean, etc.

  40. I don’t have any specific location picked out. However, I would prefer a mountain valley with running water and good land for crops and livestock. It would take many months of looking an checking out the different areas before I could say “This is IT!”

  41. My cabin in the Adirondack Mountains–where I grew up. Plenty of fish and game, fresh water, fresh air, the place my paternal grandparents homesteaded and raised their 8 children. So much more familiar, safe and friendlier, with my extended family nearby than where I now live in north central FL. I love New York State!!!

  42. A remote farm with a good water supply & lots of woods – but with my family is most important.

    Thank you very much for this giveaway!

  43. Arkansas

  44. Mine would be Alaska.

  45. Our dream location for a survival retreat would be a mostly wooded, fenced area with lots of wild game, good soil, ponds, and water running through the property. Summers and winters would be mild. It would have a well that could be operated with a hand pump and solar and/or wind produced electricity. It would also have a cellar that could be used for food storage.

  46. Philippines or Thailand…


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