In The River how do the government men plan to learn about Brian’s survival skills?

The men from the government survival school plan to learn about Brian's survival skills by observing him as he recreates his adventure in the wilderness. They want Brian to go through the same thing all over again so that they can learn how to survive in extreme conditions. To this end, one of the men will stay with Brian in the wilderness and take notes as Brian demonstrates once more his remarkable survival skills.

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Brian is initially quite flummoxed by the government men's strange request. The idea of recreating his previous adventure—detailed in the previous book, Hatchet—is simply too weird for him to get his head around. However, he quickly realizes that these men are absolutely sincere. They know that learning to survive out in the wilderness is a skill you can't learn from a book; you can only learn it by experience. They hope that by observing Brian's amazing survival skills firsthand they'll learn what they need to know.

Once they've learned from Brian, the idea is that the government men will then be in a position to teach others more effectively. It's clear that the men recognize that the government survival school's curriculum is somewhat inadequate on account of a lack of practical experience on the part of its instructors. They hope to remedy this deficiency by getting one of their number to observe Brian at close hand.

After giving the men's proposal a good deal of thought, Brian decides to go back to the wilderness once more. The truth is that the wilderness exerts a strange pull on him, a fascination that he cannot escape. So he agrees to go back there in the hope that this time his experience of the wilderness will be a good deal more pleasant than the last one.

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