Beating the Reaper Book Review and Giveaway Contest

| October 8, 2014 | 3 Comments

Everyone should read “Beating the Reaper,” whether or not you carry a gun.

Co-written by Dr. John Meade and an anonymous contributor using the pseudonym “Sua Sponte,” Beating the Reaper is a book about trauma medicine for the everyday lay person.

I have a lot of friends and family who span all reaches of religious, political, ethical, and social territory. This is the one book I recommend to all of them.

The purpose of the book is to teach you the bare minimum of techniques required to keep someone alive until professional help arrives. This is not a “scary doomsday prepper” medicine book that may frighten some lighter-hearted folk. There is some content about fighting while wounded, or fighting while a partner is wounded, but it’s not really a gunfighting book either. This may help assuage some sheep or dove people who hate guns. No matter your beliefs, the knowledge in this book is important.

Topics Covered

  • Fighting while wounded (including reloading, stopping the threat first, etc)
  • Moving people who are wounded
  • How trauma medicine differs from traditional “first aid”
  • How to treat wounds to the extremities, torso, spine, and skull
  • How injuries affect the body
  • Defining and treating shock
  • Brief overview of commercially available and improvised tourniquet, bandages, and chest seals

There is more, but this is plenty.


Beating the Reaper is 131 pages long. The book is broken up into 8 chapters, with an introduction and a glossary. The content is neatly and consistently divided up into chapters such as “airway management.” Each chapter is well-constructed with an introduction, setup, content, and closing / summary.

The written content is quite good. Medical concepts (like what “shock” really means medically) are explained in everyday language.

There are photos, but unfortunately the book is in black and white and the pictures are small. It is very difficult to see what’s going on in many of them. There are grayscale illustrations that are pretty useful, and I wish there were more of these and fewer pictures.

If the book were to be reprinted, I’d like to see a different cover. I’m not a fan of the art and I think it detracts from the otherwise professionally presented and written material.

Writing Style

I am not sure how Dr. Meade and Sua Sponte broke up the writing duties on the book. Both men have a clear, easy to read style. I think it’s a compliment to their no-bullshit, no extra fluff writing style that it’s hard for me to pick out who wrote what.

Unlike most books in the “tactical” genre, Beating the Reaper is mostly devoid of aggressive language or political overtones. There is some artistic license here and there for describing injured loved ones, and how you could do something about it if you were prepared and educated. It’s a touch gruesome, but the imagery may be important to spur some into action.

The reason I mention this is because I think Beating the Reaper should be read by everyone. Some soft-shelled folk would cringe at the hard-nosed style of several other authors I like to read (John Farnam, Gabe Suarez, C. R. Williams, B.R. Kurtz, etc). It’s important to not alienate folks who need to learn this material.

One thing I’ve realized after discussing self-defense with a wide array of people is that some don’t want to take care of themselves. They want someone else to handle their personal safety or hope that they’ll never have to encounter a dangerous situation. However, there are many (including some of the aforementioned people) who would be willing to learn about improvised trauma care. One of my goals for 2015 is to get some friends and acquaintances who are not interested in guns to take a gunshot wound class. Getting those people to read this book is an important first step.


As stated in the book, reading Beating the Reaper is not a substitute for hands-on training by a qualified professional. However, the content of the book is straightforward and clearly written to the point that most of it can be learned by reading alone. For example, how to apply a tourniquet as described in the book was the same as when I learned it in two separate classes from two different instructors. The only difference was where to apply the tourniquet and when. Dr. Meade advises putting the tourniquet on as soon as possible and as high up on the extremity as possible. In a close-range gunfighting class, the instructor advocated immediate application of the tourniquet, but lower on the extremity. A second instructor in a different class advised compression bandages first unless there was arterial (spurting blood) bleeding, and lower on the extremity.

I think Dr. Meade’s methodology is the best because it takes the guesswork out of when and where. If I just survived a gunfight and have to keep someone from bleeding out I want to think as little as possible and react as quickly and instinctively as possible.

What I’m trying to convey is that if you read the book and practice at home, you’ll be well prepared for hands-on instruction. And if you have to use your “book learning” before you can get some experience, I’ve found that the techniques in the book are consistent with what you’ll learn in a trauma class.

A slight problem

Beating the Reaper is the one book everyone on the planet should read. So what’s the problem?

It’s not currently available for purchase. Or at least, it’s no longer available on the One Source Tactical Web site, which was the only place to buy it online. I managed to get a second copy (more on that later) by messaging Dr. Meade via the Paragon Pride forum. You may also have success by contacting him via his contact form on the Paragon Pride Web site. The current price is $30 and is well worth it.

I have contacted Dr. Meade about availability and the possibility of reprinting it. He stated that it will get reprinted at some point, with a potential Kindle version. I’d love to own the book in an digital format, but more importantly I’d like to recommend it to my friends and family. I am unwilling to loan out my copy in the event I don’t get it back. This is a shame, because I feel like the content is accessible and critical.

If you can get your hands on this book, get it.

I am going to give my second copy away later this month. Keep checking back for your chance to win.

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.

3 Comments on "Beating the Reaper Book Review and Giveaway Contest"

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  1. Kyliewyotie says:

    Great topic. With all the classes I have taken dealing with firearms and the like my 3 day trauma medicine class is the one that gives me the most warm and fuzzies. My wife as well, in fact we would love to find a class to go even farther into learning, without trying to make a career out of it.

    The confidence I have from it is very reassuring. I have even had the opportunity to use it at my job, we had a very nasty injury at the power plant I work at. The ability to know what to do and how to do it, as well as have the right tools available was great.

    Thanks for all the reviews/discussions!

  2. Mark says:

    The book is now available from One Source Tactical. I bought 5 copies today for $10 each!

  3. walter says:

    I realize this is an older article, but this is now available for amazon kindle for $9.99. One caveat is the amazon description says “volume one”, not sure if that implies there’s a volume 2 out there or what.

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