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Deep Survival: Who Lives Who Dies And Why Paperback – Oct 12 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton; 1 edition (Oct. 12 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393326152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393326154
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2 x 21.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 549 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #12,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

When confronted with a life-threatening situation, 90% of people freeze or panic, says Gonzales in this exploration of what makes the remaining 10% stay cool, focused and alive. Gonzales (The Hero's Apprentice; The Still Point), who has covered survival stories for National Geographic Explorer, Outside and Men's Journal, uncovers the biological and psychological reasons people risk their lives and why some are better at it than others. In the first part of the book, the author talks to dozens of thrill-seekers-mountain climbers, sailors, jet pilots-and they all say the same thing: danger is a great rush. "Fear can be fun," Gonzales writes. "It can make you feel more alive, because it is an integral part of saving your own life." Pinpointing why and how those 10% survive is another story. "They are the ones who can perceive their situation clearly; they can plan and take correct action," Gonzales explains. Survivors, whether they're jet pilots landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier or boatbuilders adrift on a raft in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, share certain traits: training, experience, stoicism and a capacity for their logical neocortex (the brain's thinking part) to override the primitive amygdala portion of their brains. Although there's no surefire way to become a survivor, Gonzales does share some rules for adventure gleaned from the survivors themselves: stay calm, be decisive and don't give up. Remembering these rules when crisis strikes may be tough, but Gonzales's vivid descriptions of life in the balance will stay with readers.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

What impels people to risk their lives by climbing mountains or deep-sea diving? What confluence of forces leads to drastic accidents? Why do some people survive disasters while others perish? A renowned journalist intrigued with risk, Gonzales conducts an in-depth and engrossing inquiry into the dynamics of survival. Relating one hair-raising true story after another about wilderness adventures gone catastrophically wrong and other calamities, Gonzales draws on sources as diverse and compelling as the Stoic philosophers and neuroscience to elucidate the psychological, physiological, and spiritual strengths that enable certain individuals to avoid fatal panic and make that crucial "transition from victim to survivor." People who survive being lost or adrift at sea, for instance, pay close attention to their surroundings and respect the wild. Gonzales also notes that survivors think of others, either helping a fellow sufferer or rallying to outsmart death in order to spare loved ones anguish. The study of survival offers an illuminating portal into the human psyche, and Gonzales, knowledgeable and passionate, is a compelling and trustworthy guide. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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First Sentence
IF YOU COULD see adrenaline, then you'd see a great green greasy river of it oozing off the beach at San Diego tonight. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mary Esterhammer-Fic on Feb. 13 2004
Format: Hardcover
Laurence Gonzales has written a riveting book, not about survival technique, but survival philosophy. The points he makes can be applied to any situation in which you find yourself endangered physically, mentally, or emotionally. He weaves together the tao te ching, chaos theory, musings on Roman military tactics, biological lessons on how the brain works to help us preserve the species by preserving ourselves, true-life experiences from people who have endured some of the more bizarre "accidents", and his own taste for thrills.
Gonzales bookends the essays with the story of his father, a scientist who, as a young flier during WWII, was shot down over Germany. He FELL out of his plane--he didn't parachute, he literally fell--and lived through a harrowing recovery as a POW.
Why did his dad make it when the rest of his crew was killed?
Some of this has to do with events you can't control, and some of it has to do with how to control yourself so that you can find a way out of dire straits. He points out that some people can make every correct decision and end up being killed, while others make every wrong decision and walk out of the woods (or off a mountain...) unscathed. But, you can learn to THINK like a survivor, and greatly increase your chances of getting through what may seem, even to others in the same sinking boat, like a no-win situation.
Gonzales's dad taught him, "Plan the flight. Fly the plan, but don't fall in love with the plan." Being prepared is only part of the equation; being able to adjust to changing circumstances is what a lot of us forget about.
Reading this book is an adventure in itself.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Nov. 6 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is sort of "the long time listener, first time caller" of book reviews. I read these all the time, and have even been persuaded by a few, but have never taken the time to write a review before. But Deep Survival is one of the coolest books I have read in a long, long time. And it was so beyond what I was expecting that I had to write a review about it. I should mention that this book was a gift from my father, who's a big outdoorsman, survival-type guy. Dad's given me a lot of survival books. In fact, I have an entire shelf dedicated to survival books dad gave me - almost none of which I read much more than a few pages of. I had sat down to read the first ten pages of Deep Survival, as I've done with all the books dad gave me, so that when I set it on the shelf to collect dust, I could do so with as little guilt as is possible. Of course, I ended up reading the entire thing in one sitting.
Gonzales may have the capability of synthesizing all of these vast concepts into a simple easy-to-read narrative, but I don't. So I can't exactly sum it up for you, because it really is vast. About all I can say is that this book is as much about philosophy, and life, as it is about survival. And for anyone interested in not only what it takes to survive, and why some survive and some don't, but are interested in the war between the cognitive and emotional centers of our being, about systems and chaos theory and what makes us all tick, this is the book for you. Of course it helps that Gonzales has an engaging, easy-to-read style, and chooses to tell his story in part through anecdotes that are at one time hysterical and frightening and sad.
I could not recommend this book more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By William H. Linkroum on Jan. 10 2004
Format: Hardcover
It really does. This book is not about the technical elements of how to survive, such as how to build shelter, find water and eat in harsh conditions. You will probably end up feeling like you could do those things better after having read the book, but to focus on those skills would be to lose the point of the book. It is a detailed explanation of what it means to survive. Gonzales tells us what surval means in our brain as well as what it means to our personality, specifically the lessons that can be learned and the growth that can take place through a survival situation. What I found most powerful about the book were his regular references to his father's survival in WWII and how learning about that experience and trying to understand it steered his own life toward adventure. Gonzales uses survival as a vehicle to explore what drives people to do things others would think insane or even deadly. He also provides one of the most compelling and simple explanations for that behavior: we do it in order to build skills that will save us later. In one way or another, everyone will face a survival situation in their life from which they will either live or die. Gonzales' point seems to be that when that time comes having had some practice can make all the difference.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard C. Anderson on April 25 2004
Format: Hardcover
Deep Survival Review
Last year my family visited the west (Sedona, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Lake Powel). Upon arrival at Bryce I walked from the lodge to the canyon. Despite warning signs and the fact that I had all the information I needed right before my eyes if it had not been for a lady sitting on a bench at the edge of the canyon I warning me I would have walked right off the edge of the canyon and fallen surely to my death. I was about thee inches from the edge when she spoke to me and I 'perceived' that I was about three inches from the edge and the next step would be my last.
I thought a lot about that experience as I read Deep Survival. The author's discussions about perception of danger and the lack of it leading to deep trouble in the wilderness, on you home street or in business was invaluable. This is a wonderful thought provoking book. It caused me to think back over several trips into the wilderness I have taken and I now view them quite differently. It will also affect future explorations. This book kind of reminds me to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
My recommendation: Get this book. I originally read a library copy but I have ordered my own copy so I can mark it up and highlight important passages. If you love the adventure of life get this book so adventure does not turn into tragedy.
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