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Paperback Deep Survival : Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why Book

ISBN: 0393326152

ISBN13: 9780393326154

Deep Survival : Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why

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Book Overview

In ?Deep Survival?, Laurence Gonzalez combines hard science and powerful storytelling to illustrate the mysteries of survival, whether in the wilderness or in meeting any of life's great challenges. This gripping narrative, the first book to describe the art and science of survival, will change the way you see the world. Everyone has a mountain to climb. Everyone has a wilderness inside.

Customer Reviews

7 ratings

A Man's Book Perhaps...

I found this a difficult book to read... It's filled with what I would call "manspeak" and military "lingo" or slang... and much technical physiological and psychological descriptions of the body and the brain's responses to various survival stimuli. That might make it a better book for you than me... And I am a fan of every climbing book I've ever read and numerous books dealing with who survives and who doesn't and why... including Victor Frankl's book Man's Search for Meaning. Most are first-person descriptions of their own adventures, getting stuck and how they got out of it, including Into the Thin Air by Jon Krakauer; Touching the Void by Joe Simpson, who fell into a crevasse, cried his eyes out because he thought he was going to die and then began to notice a possible route out; Left for Dead: My Journey Home from Everest by Beck Weathers, how Weathers picked himself up and others on that deadly Everest climb and marched them all down; The Climb by Anatoli Boukreev, who saved some and not and why; The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Slavomir Rawicz; Redemption at Hacksaw Ridge by Booton Herndon; and I would put American Sniper by Chris Kyle in this category also. I am accustomed to reading books written by men... None are like Gonzales's book.

I will use this on my next primitive campout to start my fire. Horribly slow. The author spent more time to diversify his verbiage than he did on putting together a cohesive thought. I understand he was trying to build the scene, but "DANG" get on with it.

An excellent concept for a book and exciting reading...

This book focuses on why people survive risky situations. It contains many interesting example stories and the theories of why some people survive and others do not. It also presents a lot of facts along these lines. As someone trained in physiology, biochemistry and psychology, I found it to be a very thought provoking read. It explores the territory of how the mind deals with danger and the role of the lower brain systems i.e. limbic and reptilian in its interactions with the higher parts of the brain (neocortex). This book is a nice extension to some of the concepts that were introduced in Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition; Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Specifically, it elaborates on the interaction between the amygdala which does fuzzy pattern matching when one encounters potentially dangerous situations and how the amygdala gets trigged. It also explains some ideas about how cognition, conditioning and language play a role in these feedback loops. The practical applications of this book are numerous. It help you to more deeply understand what happens to attention under stress, the effect of stress on performance, how assessments of danger are made and how to navigate danger and stressful situations by a balanced response between the "quick trigger" activation of the amygdala and higher input or meaning making by the neocortex. Unfortunately, our evolutionary past has left us with an amygdala that responds to things like traffic jams, arguments with loved ones and even movies with a life or death response. This leads to chronic elevation of the stress hormone cortisol which effects short-term performance, but also memory, the cardiovascular system and the gut. Understanding how to moderate our responses to events that trigger the limbic system (mid-brain that contains the amygdala), we can perform better under pressure and be more savy about avoiding the long-term effects of stress. If you like this book, you may also enjoy Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, Third Edition or the The End of Stress As We Know It. Both of these books deal with the long-term impact of chronic stress, explain the stress response in detail and the consequences in terms of impact on various body systems. The former book is geared more toward someone with a knowledge of biology and the latter covers similar ground in a more simplified and accessible way.

Listen Up, Grasshopper

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. If you're a city dweller, like me, and don't anticipate not having the Sears Tower in your line of sight if you get disoriented, it's still enjoyable, and applicable to what you will eventually experience. This book should be on every high school reading list. (Preferably BEFORE the kid takes driver's ed.)I also recommend Gavin DeBecker's books, such as THE GIFT OF FEAR. He discusses some of what Gonzales does, insofar as honing your inner resources so they work FOR you, but he is also very specific regarding cases of direct threats from other people. Gonzales does discuss how non-survivors can compromise a survivor, but most of what he talks about is environmental. If you are planning a wilderness trip or just a seemingly innocuous weekend hike, this book is a great reality check. It's also an inspiration. Some of these stories are just amazing, and they prove how tough, and sometimes dumb, a species we are.

An Important Book

Having read well over 1,000 non-fiction books, ranging over my 50+ years, I place Deep Survival within my list of top five most important, and fascinating, books. The title is somewhat misleading since the information discussed is helpful for anyone dealing with life's problems, not just wilderness travelers in life and death situations. Interesting situations in the backcountry have popped up in my life occasionally, such as bear encounters and lightning storms, and have taught me how necessary psychological as well as physical preparation is to survival. The importance of carrying that same preparedness and attention to environment to the rest of my life somehow slipped past. The author did a great job of leading the reader to the conclusion that this state of mindfulness, of being centered, is helpful in all aspects of life. The survival stories, as well as the scientific explanations, were fascinating to read, and the book had a sort of smooth rhythm that carried me quickly and effortlessly through to the end (not totally effortlessly -- I did lose some sleep when I couldn't put it down). Very highly recommended!

Simply wonderful

Those who are focusing on whether or not Gonzales is actually instructing you on how to survive in the wild are completely missing the point of Deep Survival. As a totally urban chick who'd rather die than hike, I bought the book not because I wanted to learn about mountaineering, but to investigate why I've survived a blood disorder that has killed others. And thanks to this book, I've gotten my answer. Gonzales beautifully explains and explores the paradox that must be absorbed completely if one is to live through a catastrophe--which is that to survive something, you must surrender to it, basically fall into it, accepting all the pain and suffering, if you're ever going to get out of it. When you're able to quickly adapt to a new reality and make this new place--however frightening--your new home, you've a much better chance of surviving than the person who's in denial. For one thing, your sense of spirituality and wonder deepens, and this is a tremendous life force in and of itself. It helps you enjoy where you ARE, instead of frantically trying to get to where you think you should be. This is simply a great life lesson, whether you're lost in the woods, or just trying to live a happier existence.He explains the paradox so well--that in order to survive, one must surrender, yet at the same time not give in. There must be a sheer raw determination to win the game, yet an acceptance of possibly losing it as well, which paradoxically, gives you an edge. And if you can muster a playful spirit on top of it all, well--then you're just golden. A *great* read.

Profoundly effective read

I was hooked when I read the inside cover. Gonzales will try to explain why a guy in a raft would say "I'm going to pick up the car." Then jump into the ocean to be eaten by sharks, and then explain why a person with no survival skills could survive the jungle. What could explain these differences in catastrophe? Does Gonzales, a very experienced adventurer, succeed?No! Catastrophes are too complicated, nature is too capricious, and no one can fathom why someone was given -divinely or otherwise- the mental fortitude to survive while another surrenders. Gonzales admits this, but he does better. He shows us that many of those who survive have a mental profile that helps them survive and he encourages us to find this resilience which we all have by varying degrees. He does this through pages of wisdom.So there are 15 chapters, each presenting a main lesson, and a fantastic tale of accidents, catastrope or survival. Minor points in each chapter is supported by 'minor' stories. Thus Gonzales masterfully weaves several stories in each chapter.The stories presented are just awe inspiring. Let me give whet your appetite. Two raft guides steer their boats down a raging river. One notices entire trees racing by and has enough, the other doesn't and dies. A teenage girl falls a mile from an airplane with just her high heels and her dress. She survives, but now must face an inhospitable jungle below. SCUBA divers drown underwater with plenty of air in their tanks.Gonzales does not get into the 'gadgetry' lessons of survival. There are no techniques about how to apply first aid, or rappel a cliff. Instead, Gonzales presents psychology and the neurology of why we make mistakes, why we sometimes do 'bonehead' acts, why some seem to be lucky to never get into trouble, and what it takes to persevere through indomitable odds; the 'survival personality'. He also discusses tightly interlocking safety systems and 'adventure plans' that give us a false sense of security and can exaggerate the problems that they are trying to prevent!Gonzales draws heavily from a few science books which are accessible to most readers. I suspect those who have read this book, may already have read them:-The Emotional Brain by Joseph LeDoux-Descartes' Error by Antonio DamasioBoth these books are very good, and I recommend them. It is not necessary to read them first to enjoy Deep Survival, but reading all three books, will be more enriched. So 'armchair' academics will delight in this original -albeit, light- application of science.Gonzales so masterfully writes that Nature just IS, but the inner world may be against us. So while we cannot control our outside world, we can construct an inner world which will increase our chances of survival. And let me try to abbreviate them here:-Be prepared. Have the proper training.-Be humble. Observe and adapt your knowledge, Nature is not a textbook.-Stay calm and don't rush.-Have a loose plan and be ready to change or lose
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