The Best Self Defense Books of 2019

Table of Contents

When it comes to self defense, there are a few ways to learn about it. You can either join a class, watch a Youtube video, or read a book! If you’re a bookworm like me, then you might opt to do the third option. As Director of Content at Security Baron, I think about how to keep people safe all day long. I’ve read a number of books on the topic and on self defense specifically, and this list is my favorites, the books I found more useful in helping you stay safe from an attacker, or any kind of disaster, really. Let’s get started!

Best Self Defense Books

Editor’s Pick
Sheep No More: The Art of Awareness and Attack Survival
Sheep No More: The Art of Awareness and Attack Survival
Sheep No More: The Art of Awareness and Attack Survival

Written by former FBI Special Agent and US Navy SEAL, this book is the ultimate guide to dangerous situations, from terrorist attacks to environmental disasters. 

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Top Contender
The Law of Self Defense: The Indispensable Guide to the Armed Citizen
The Law of Self Defense: The Indispensable Guide to the Armed Citizen
The Law of Self Defense: The Indispensable Guide to the Armed Citizen

Have you ever wondered what's legal in your state in terms of self defense? This comprehensive guide, written by an expert attorney, will tell you everything you need to know about defending yourself, legally. 

Doesn't expire

Best Martial Arts Guide
Tao of Jeet Kune Do: New Expanded Edition
Tao of Jeet Kune Do: New Expanded Edition
Tao of Jeet Kune Do: New Expanded Edition

Written by world famous martial artist and movie star Bruce Lee, this book covers the martial art form he created, jeet kunde do, along with kicking, grappling, and more self defense techniques. 

Doesn't expire

Best Legal Guide
Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self Defense
Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self Defense
Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self Defense

If you want to know how to use your firearm for self defense according to the law, this book is a complete guide written by attorney and firearm expert Massad Ayoob. 

Doesn't expire

Best For Extreme Situations
100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative's Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation
100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative's Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation
100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative's Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation

Written by a former Navy SEAL, this book deals with everything from mass shootings to everyday crimes with helpful illustrations and instructions. 

Doesn't expire

Editor’s Pick

Sheep No More: The Art of Awareness and Attack Survival

Known as the “safety Bible,” this book is a really comprehensive look at dangerous situations, told from the perspective of the attacker. In under 250 pages, Sheep No More covers everything from mass shootings to hurricanes, and everything in between. 

Pros: If you have Audible, you can listen to this book for free! It’s also available at low prices on Kindle as well as in paperback. I like that the author Jonathan T. Gilliam has so much experience in keeping people safe, from his work with the U.S Navy as well as the FBI

Cons: Unfortunately, Gilliam could’ve edited out a few pages from his book, as there was quite a bit of fluff and anecdotes

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Sheep No More: The Art of Awareness and Attack Survival
Sheep No More: The Art of Awareness and Attack Survival
Sheep No More: The Art of Awareness and Attack Survival

Written by former FBI Special Agent and US Navy SEAL, this book is the ultimate guide to dangerous situations, from terrorist attacks to environmental disasters. 

Top Contender

The Law of Self Defense: The Indispensable Guide to the Armed Citizen

Everyone knows you have the right to defend yourself, but what does that phrase really mean? Lawyer and self defense expert Andrew F. Branca covers all 50 states regarding what’s legal and illegal during self defense. 

Pros: With real life examples, this book was very readable and interesting. I like that it covers the self defense laws in all 50 states, as it applies to anyone in the United States. Plus, it covers really useful topics like interacting with the police, calling for emergency services, and dealing with first responders and detectives. 

Cons: While this book tells you what self defense methods are legal, it doesn’t actually instruct you on how to defend yourself, so it’s not a good choice for someone looking for something more instructional. 

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The Law of Self Defense: The Indispensable Guide to the Armed Citizen
The Law of Self Defense: The Indispensable Guide to the Armed Citizen
The Law of Self Defense: The Indispensable Guide to the Armed Citizen

Have you ever wondered what's legal in your state in terms of self defense? This comprehensive guide, written by an expert attorney, will tell you everything you need to know about defending yourself, legally. 

Best Martial Arts Guide

Tao of Jeet Kune Do: New Expanded Edition

Born in Hong Kong in 1940, the late Bruce Lee is one of the most famous martial artists, actors and directors in the world. Originally published in 1975, this book is a combination of Lee’s notes and essays about martial arts and Zen

Pros: This is a comprehensive guide not only to jeet kune do, but also to footwork, kicking, striking, grappling, and even Zen and enlightenment, if you’re looking for something more spiritual. It’s available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle, which is a nice variety. I’d go with Kindle if you’re looking for the most affordable choice! 

Cons: Since this book is a combination of separate notes and essays of Lee’s, it can feel a little disjointed and unorganized at times. 

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Tao of Jeet Kune Do: New Expanded Edition
Tao of Jeet Kune Do: New Expanded Edition
Tao of Jeet Kune Do: New Expanded Edition

Written by world famous martial artist and movie star Bruce Lee, this book covers the martial art form he created, jeet kunde do, along with kicking, grappling, and more self defense techniques. 

Best Legal Guide

Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self Defense

If you’re interested in the legal, practice, and ethical uses of firearms in terms of self defense, then there’s no better guide out there than Deadly Force. Written by Massad Ayoob, the founder and former director of the Lethal Force Institute, it includes laws from all 50 states so you can know your firearm rights. 

Pros: Few books discuss the law in a way that’s easy for non-legalese speakers. This book is written so it can be understood by a layperson, so you can find out your firearm rights when it comes to self defense. Choose from paperback or Kindle versions, if you want to save some money. 

Cons: I was slightly turned off at the product placement in the text, mentions of specific guns that I found unnecessary.  

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Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self Defense
Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self Defense
Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self Defense

If you want to know how to use your firearm for self defense according to the law, this book is a complete guide written by attorney and firearm expert Massad Ayoob. 

Best For Extreme Situations

100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation

Want to learn how to trick facial recognition software, how to make a taser from the items around you, or how to get out from a locked trunk? Clint Emerson’s book will teach you all that in more in less than 300 pages

Pros: Emerson’s professional experience makes him an ideal author of a self defense book. But don’t worry— he adapts his knowledge so that civilians can easily understand it. Plus, if you have Audible, you can listen to the audio book for free. 

Cons: As this book is about more extreme situations, it may not be useful for someone that doesn’t live in a high-crime area. 

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100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative's Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation
100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative's Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation
100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative's Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation

Written by a former Navy SEAL, this book deals with everything from mass shootings to everyday crimes with helpful illustrations and instructions. 

Best Self Defense Book Methodology

Best Self Defense Books Review
Best Self Defense Books Review

So what exactly is my criteria for selecting a good self defense book? Here are some things I look for:

  • Experts: This should go without saying, but I need all self defense books to be written by experts in self defense, be it from a martial arts expert to a lawyer who’s dealt with many self defense cases. The knowledge of the author is directly related to the quality of the book, so I make sure to do some background research on the author before I start reading.
  • Legal perspective: I’m a lawyer myself, so the law is always on my mind, especially when it comes to self defense. I like books that take the law into account when describing self defense techniques. Extra points if they break it down by all 50 states!
  • Illustrations: This doesn’t apply to all self defense books, but especially if they’re instructional, illustrations can be really helpful to learn new techniques.
  • Available forms: I prefer books available for Kindle and Audible, as well as in paperback and hardcover. If it’s available for free on Audible, that’s even better!
  • Quality of writing: With any book, I want the writing to be concise, precise, and easy to understand for a normal civilian.
  • Modern techniques: Self defense techniques are always being improved upon, so I try to stick to books that were written recently or at least updated recently.

Self Defense Book Tips

Here are some best practices and tips when buying or reading a self defense book:

  • Audiobooks: If you’re someone that doesn’t have a lot of time to sit down and crack open a book, then an audiobook is a great alternative for you, as you’ll be able to listen to it while on the go. Some of the books on Amazon are free if you have an Audible subscription, which an added bonus.
  • Annotate: Studies have shown that annotating improves reading comprehension, according to a paper from the National Council of Teachers of English. If you’re reading a paperback or hardcover copy, be sure to highlight words and take notes in the margins to get the most out of your self defense book.
  • Combine with Youtube: There’s more than one way to skin a cat, so if an illustration isn’t doing it for you, you can always combine your book with some helpful Youtube videos for maximum comprehension.

Recap of the Best Best Self Defense Books of 2019

Learning how to defend yourself is one thing, but you also want to have a security system that will keep you safe. If your home doesn’t currently have one, check out our list of 2019’s top home security systems. Or, if you have any questions about self defense books, leave me a comment below and I’m sure to answer you soon.

Gabe Turner

Gabe Turner

Gabe Turner is an attorney and journalist with a passion for home tech and secure, efficient living. Since graduating from NYU Law, he has maintained a paradoxical existence of trying to live life adventurously while remaining staunchly risk-averse. He is torn by the dual desires of wanting to only be in Brooklyn writing about housing policy and smart home tech and aspiring to visit his friends scattered across the globe. Gabe believes that stable, safe communities are the cornerstone to a vibrant and healthy society, and it is this passion that brought him to contribute to Security Baron.

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