The most recommended books about search and rescue

Who picked these books? Meet our 18 experts.

18 authors created a book list connected to search and rescue, and here are their favorite search and rescue books.
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What type of search and rescue book?


Book cover of Here If You Need Me: A True Story

Claire Suzanne Elizabeth Cooney Author Of Saint Death's Daughter: Volume 1

From my list on I want to be when I grow up.

Why am I passionate about this?

With every book we read, we engage in a complex act of telepathy and empathy. We are entering another human’s thoughts, interpreting them with our own, and come out changed from this colossal encounter. These five books I mentioned, with their extraordinary kindness, insight, humor, wisdom, warmth, compassion, and wholeness—many of them fantasies, many of them focusing on communities—have informed the writer I am today: a World Fantasy Award Winner. But I wouldn’t be without all the books that helped make me. These books are some of the best that built me, and keep building in me: the kind of books I try to write myself.

Claire's book list on I want to be when I grow up

Claire Suzanne Elizabeth Cooney Why did Claire love this book?

Here If You Need Me is a non-fiction memoir I read years ago on a whim. It still sticks with me. A woman with four children is happily married to a State trooper training to be a minister. When he dies suddenly, she goes on to become a minister herself, working with search and rescue missions in the Maine woods while raising her children. Her intimate knowledge of grief, her vulnerability, and compassion, coupled with a life of service and family, moved me so deeply that I often call upon the memory of this book in my life to metaphorically “get down on the floor with those who weep, and give them tea if they want it.”

By Kate Braestrup,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Here If You Need Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

HERE IF YOU NEED ME is the story Kate Braestrup's remarkable journey from grief to faith to happiness - as she holds her family together in the wake of her husband's death, pursues his dream of becoming a minister, and ultimately finds her calling as a chaplain to search-and-rescue workers. It is dramatic, funny, deeply moving, and simply unforgettable--an uplifting account offinding God through helping others, and of the small miracles that happen every day when a heart is grateful and love isrestored.

Book cover of Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man's Miraculous Survival

Elizabeth Flann Author Of Beware of Dogs

From my list on humans fighting for survival in dangerous situations.

Why am I passionate about this?

Elizabeth Flann is a history and literature major who worked for over twenty years in the publishing industry in England and Australia before moving into teaching literature, scriptwriting and editing to postgraduate students at Deakin University, Melbourne. She is a co-author of The Australian Editing Handbook and was awarded a PhD in 2001 for her thesis entitled Celluloid Dreaming: Cultural Myths and Landscape in Australian Film. Now retired, she is able to give full rein to her true love—writing fiction. Her first novel, Beware of Dogs, was awarded the Harper Collins Banjo Prize for a Fiction Manuscript. She now lives in a peaceful rural setting in Victoria, Australia, close to extended family and nature.

Elizabeth's book list on humans fighting for survival in dangerous situations

Elizabeth Flann Why did Elizabeth love this book?

After years of vicarious adventure tales like The Coral Island and Treasure Island, as an adult I discovered a new source: true-life adventures. From the voyage of the raft Kon-Tiki to the epic trek by Robyn Davidson across Australia’s cruelest desert, my fascination with the human capacity for survival found a new revival. One of the most riveting books I’ve ever read in this genre is Touching the Void which, although non-fiction, is written in an extraordinarily poetic form by the two survivors, each of whom suffered terrible physical privations and even more terrible moral dilemmas while climbing in the snow-covered Peruvian mountains. That either of them survived is a miracle. That both of them did is a tribute to what humans can endure in order to survive.

By Joe Simpson,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Touching the Void as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Extensive reading is essential for improving fluency
and there is a real need in the ELT classroom for motivating, contemporary
graded material that will instantly appeal to students

Based on the internationally acclaimed book by Joe Simpson, Touching
the Void is the compelling true story of a mountaineering
expedition which goes dreadfully wrong.



Perfect also for native English speaking children who are struggling
with their reading

Full colour photos and film stills bring story
to life and aid comprehension

Fact File section explores the making of the film, climbing Everest
and other related…

Book cover of Into the Raging Sea: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm, and the Sinking of El Faro

John Barylick Author Of Killer Show: The Station Nightclub Fire, America's Deadliest Rock Concert

From my list on disaster & survival.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a passion for this type of book because I have always craved truly immersive reading experiences.  Ever since cutting my teeth on Hardy Boys adventures, I've loved well-told stories of peril and derring-do.  And I find narrative non-fiction to be the most engrossing because, in the reader's mind, they know that "this really HAPPENED"!  After the Station Nightclub Fire occurred in 2003, and after I spent seven years as an attorney working on its legal aftermath, I knew that someone had to tell its definitive story, casting blame where deserved, and lavishing praise where earned.  It had to read like a novel, but inspire and educate in the process.  To judge from its reception in reader communities as diverse as heavy metal fans and fire service professionals, it seems to have achieved that goal.

John's book list on disaster & survival

John Barylick Why did John love this book?

In most nautical disaster stories, we’re left to speculate what went through the minds of the victims as their fates unfolded. However, when the container ship El Faro steamed into the teeth of a hurricane in 2015, the voices of its crew were captured for posterity on a shipboard “black box” which was later recovered by divers. Author Rachel Slade was able to accurately reconstruct the fatal combination of bad luck, outdated technology, and outright hubris that brought this huge ship and its crew to their terrible end. A fascinating account of maritime disaster in the modern age. 

By Rachel Slade,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Into the Raging Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the tradition of The Perfect Storm and Into Thin Air, Rachel Slade's Into the Raging Sea is a nail-biting account of the sinking of the container ship El Faro, the crew of thirty-three who perished onboard, and the destructive forces of globalisation that put the ship in harm's way.

On 1 October 2015, Hurricane Joaquin barreled into the Bermuda Triangle and swallowed the container ship El Faro whole, resulting in one of the worst shipping disasters in decades. No one could fathom how a vessel equipped with satellite communications, a sophisticated navigation system, and cutting-edge weather forecasting could suddenly…

Book cover of She Went to War: The Rhonda Cornum Story

Cathy Hester Seckman Author Of Rightside/Wrongside

From my list on women being in charge in fiction and nonfiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in the ‘60s, when women were not in charge of anything much. I’ve always been fascinated by strong women. Amelia Earhart was a particular favorite, as were the suffragettes, Michelle Obama, and others. The strongest thing I’ve done in my life is to seize opportunities when they arise. I forged a second career that way, taking more than one leap of faith to do what I’ve always known I could do, be a writer. During and after my first career as a dental hygienist I took opportunities to be a newspaper wire editor, then a columnist, a magazine writer, an indexer, a nonfiction writer, and a novelist.

Cathy's book list on women being in charge in fiction and nonfiction

Cathy Hester Seckman Why did Cathy love this book?

Speaking of women in charge, this is the memoir of a retired U.S. Army brigadier general. She is also a pilot, skydiver, steeplechase jockey, and flight surgeon. The book details her experiences as a prisoner of war in Iraq in 1991 after her helicopter was shot down during a search and rescue mission.

The main thing I can say about Cornum’s story is, Wow! She was able to rise through the ranks in a time when the U.S. military still kept women contained, excluding them from opportunities for which they were well-qualified. Her time in Irag makes for a heart-pounding story filled with danger, pain, endurance, and survival.

I thought of Gen. Cornum more than once as I was building my lead character in my book, President Alanna Olaffson.

By Rhonda Cornum, Peter Copeland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked She Went to War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Deep inside Iraqi territory, a U.S. Army helicopter on a combat search-and-rescue mission was shot down with eight Americans aboard. Five of them were killed instantly; the three survivors were captured by Saddam Hussein’s elite Republican Guard. One of the survivors was Maj. Rhonda Cornum – Army officer, helicopter pilot, physician, and mother of a 14-year-old girl. She Went to War is her story – a remarkable tale of courage, determination, and pride.

This special commemorative edition, published for the 30th anniversary of the Gulf War and Operation Desert Storm, includes a new afterword by the author.

When the call…

Book cover of Shattered Air: A True Account of Catastrophe and Courage on Yosemite's Half Dome

Michael J. Tougias Author Of A Storm Too Soon: A Remarkable True Survival Story in 80-Foot Seas

From my list on edge of your seat true stories of survival.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been fascinated by the toughest survivors, the ones where I say to myself, “I could have never got through that.” Then I’m curious about how they endured: what mindsets and techniques did they use to fight on? When I became a writer I focused on this niche, with my first book Ten Hours Until Dawn which was followed by several other true survival and rescue tales. I became obsessed with researching where the survivors made the correct decisions and how they got trapped by bad ones. When my book The Finest Hours became a Disney movie I was deluged with people sharing their own survival stories. 

Michael's book list on edge of your seat true stories of survival

Michael J. Tougias Why did Michael love this book?

I enjoy hiking and the occasional difficult climb up a mountain, but author Bob Madgic expertly illustrates what can happen when you ignore warning signs. In Shattered Air a group of hikers in Yosemite are climbing above the tree line when threatening weather moves in. One of the hikers wants to turn back for fear of lightning but lets himself be talked into continuing by the more experienced climbers. But experience or being an “expert” does not always translate into safe decisions, and the group is hit by repeated lightning strikes. This is not only a great survival story but gives good insight into the hazards of letting “group think” or peer pressure sway your gut instincts.

By Bob Madgic,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shattered Air as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The compelling account of recklessness, tragedy, courage and rescue, a book whose sobering depiction of Nature's danger is tempered by unforgettable portraits of the triumphant human spirit.

Book cover of One Step Too Far

Karen Dionne Author Of The Wicked Sister

From my list on getting lost in the wilderness, or the ocean.

Why am I passionate about this?

USA Today and #1 internationally bestselling author of The Marsh King's Daughter - “Subtle, brilliant and mature . . . as good as a thriller can be.” – The New York Times Book Review, and soon to be a major motion picture starring Daisy Ridley and Ben Mendelsohn, and The Wicked Sister, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2020. "Massively thrilling and altogether unputdownable. Dionne is proving to be one of the finest suspense writers working today.” – Karin Slaughter

Karen's book list on getting lost in the wilderness, or the ocean

Karen Dionne Why did Karen love this book?

Frankie Elkin doesn’t know the woods, but she knows how to find people.

As she and her rescue team head into the Wyoming wilderness in search of a lost hiker, it quickly becomes clear that someone is tracking them; someone who will do whatever it takes to stop them. Gardner is an avid hiker, and her intimate knowledge of the rugged Wyoming backcountry shines on every terrifying page.

This immersive, propulsive, utterly chilling, and yet deeply moving wilderness thriller is one of the best books I read all year.

By Lisa Gardner,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked One Step Too Far as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner, a chilling thriller about a young man gone missing in the wilderness of Wyoming . . . and the secrets uncovered by the desperate effort to find him
Timothy O’Day knew the woods. Yet when he disappeared on the first night of a bachelor party camping trip with his best friends in the world, he didn’t leave a trace. What he did leave behind were two heartbroken parents, a crew of guilt-ridden groomsmen, and a pile of clues that don’t add up.
Frankie Elkin doesn’t know the woods, but she knows…

Book cover of Shoot Like a Girl: One Woman's Dramatic Fight in Afghanistan and on the Home Front

Pamela D. Toler Author Of Women Warriors: An Unexpected History

From my list on women in war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been fascinated by the concept of women warriors ever since I was a nerdy kid who read every biography of famous women I could get my hands—and I've been collecting their stories almost as long. Today I write historical non-fiction that puts women back into the story, whether it's women warriors, civil war nurses, or groundbreaking journalists. The impact of this can be profound. When we re-introduce overlooked populations into history, we get a very different story.

Pamela's book list on women in war

Pamela D. Toler Why did Pamela love this book?

In 2012, former Air National Guard pilot and Purple Heart recipient Mary Jennings Hegar joined forces with the ACLU to challenge the ban that kept American women out of ground combat units. In Shoot Like A Girl, Hegar tells the story of the career that led her to that point.

Hegar’s love for flying, her commitment to her job, and her bonds with teammates are vividly portrayed. The incident for which she received the Purple Heart–her helicopter shot down in Afghanistan with wounded men aboard—is gripping. But the heart of the book is the systemic sexism Hegar faced throughout her career. This is a powerful account of one woman's determination to serve in the face of acts of casual prejudice, active hazing, sexual assault—and institutional cover-ups.

By Mary Jennings Hegar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shoot Like a Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On July 29, 2009, Air National Guard major Mary Jennings 'MJ' Hegar was shot down while on a Medevac mission on her third tour in Afghanistan. Despite being wounded, she continued to fight and saved the lives of her crew and their patients. But soon she would face a new battle: to give women who serve on the front lines the credit they deserve.

After being commissioned into the U.S. Air Force, MJ Hegar was selected for pilot training by the Air National Guard, finished at the top of her class, then served three tours in Afghanistan, flying combat search-and-rescue…

Book cover of All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team

Chris Tebbetts Author Of Me Myself & Him

From my list on you’d never think were so compulsively readable, but are.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was pitching my then novel-in-progress, Me, Myself, and Him to editors and agents, I usually got one of two responses: either “That sounds like a tough sell” or “That sounds great, and not like anything I’ve seen before.” Of course, I preferred to hear the latter, but I also enjoyed winning over skeptics by giving them something much more accessible than they might have expected, based on my pitch. It all speaks to the special place I have in my heart for the books you never expect to love…and then love anyway.

Chris' book list on you’d never think were so compulsively readable, but are

Chris Tebbetts Why did Chris love this book?

I posted about this book on social media last year and called it one of my favorite reads, ever. A large handful of friends said it was one of theirs as well. There’s something about this book—deeply absorbing, compulsively readable, and edge-of-my-seat emotional—that just clicks. There’s even a kind of genius in the title itself, letting us know ahead of time that every one of the Thai boys’ soccer team stranded in that underground cave (a story you might remember from the news) were safely rescued at the end of the ordeal. From that vantage point, you can really just sink in and absorb this amazing story from every one of the many angles Christina Sonntornvat tells it. Bonus points for being something that kids and adults will love.

By Christina Soontornvat,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All Thirteen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2021 Kirkus Prize for Young People's Literature
A 2021 Newbery Honor Book
A 2021 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
A 2021 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Finalist
A 2021 Orbis Pictus Honor Book

A unique account of the amazing Thai cave rescue told in a heart-racing, you-are-there style that blends suspense, science, and cultural insight.

On June 23, 2018, twelve young players of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach enter a cave in northern Thailand seeking an afternoon’s adventure. But when they turn to leave, rising floodwaters block their path out.…

Book cover of Search and Rescue Alaska

Ed Davis Author Of The Last Professional

From my list on losing and finding ourselves via wanderlust.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began my writing career over forty years ago, pausing in boxcars, under streetlamps, and in hobo jungles to record the beats and rhythms of the road as I caught freight trains and vagabonded around the Pacific Northwest and Canada. In the years since, whether hiking the Camion de Santiago, traversing the length of Hadrian’s Wall, or backpacking in the high Sierra, I’ve been privileged to indulge my wanderlust all around the world, and to share those adventures with others.

Ed's book list on losing and finding ourselves via wanderlust

Ed Davis Why did Ed love this book?

Sometimes wanderlust makes us wander farther than we should. I devoured this book! Part history, part thriller, part downright unbelievable, there is adventure and heroism on every page. I'm not sure that truth is always stranger than fiction, but in Tracy’s able hands it is every bit as exciting. Strap on your snowshoes!

By Tracy Salcedo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Search and Rescue Alaska as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a place as vast and extreme as Alaska, no one takes safety for granted. Whether adventurer or homesteader, tourist or native, people look out for themselves and for each other. But sometimes it just goes bad, and no amount of resourcefulness or resiliency can make it right. That's when search and rescue teams kick into gear, launching operations by air and by land that have generated amazing tales of heroism, tenacity, and human kindness. Some of those stories have been gathered in Search and Rescue Alaska, including:
*Rescues on Denali, North America's highest peak, from the mountain's first search…

Book cover of Dead Falls: A Jessica Anderson K-9 Mystery

Laurie Buchanan Author Of Impervious: A Sean McPherson Novel

From my list on mysteries and thrillers paw-fect for dog lovers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hi, my name is Laurie Buchanan, and I'm addicted to dogs. I was nicknamed "Dr. Doolittle" at seven, and the moniker has stuck. Why? Because I have a way with all animals, but dogs in particular. I've been owned by dogs (not the other way around) since elementary school—from Irish wolfhounds to Scottish Terriers and everything in between—Poodles, Collies, Dalmatians, and mixed breeds. Not only do I enjoy reading books that feature K9 characters, but I also write them—The Sean McPherson crime thriller series. I do my best plotting during my daily six-mile walk with my four-legged companion, Henry, a not-so-standard Standard Poodle.

Laurie's book list on mysteries and thrillers paw-fect for dog lovers

Laurie Buchanan Why did Laurie love this book?

I love a good storyline, but even more so when it’s well-supported.

The author, D.L. Keur, offers captivating information about search and rescue, hostage rescue, pack interactions, human-K9 communication, and human psychology. I love the dogs—yes, plural—and the relationships with their human companions.

Speaking of which, the human characters are realistic. Just like people in real life, they’re flawed, which to my way of thinking, makes a story even more believable and relatable.

By D. L. Keur,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dead Falls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.