Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why
1 journaler for this copy...
This is a very interesting discussion of the factors that seem to allow some individuals to survive against impossible odds; it includes references to real-life situations, including Joe Simpson's Touching the Void, and addresses things like the effects of being lost on one's brain chemistry - some pretty deep subjects are covered under the "survival" heading! Some of the case studies are almost depressing in the way they demonstrate how one's own body can simply fail to perceive signs of danger, and while there are many helpful suggestions about coping in survival situations, it often seems to come down to a mix of luck and a brain that doesn't self-destruct under stress.
The author discusses accidents that happen to people who visit wild places and underestimate them; somebody raised in a city and used to protected street crossings and guard rails might visit the Grand Canyon and simply step off the edge, not realizing that the decision as to how far it was safe to go was up to him. And the section on being lost was one of my favorites, especially as I had recently managed to lose myself in a neighborhood park within a mile of my house, so I understood how quickly one can become disoriented. [The author explores several different types of wilderness-pathfinding courses and techniques, and some of those were fascinating.]
There's a lot more here, a LOT more. The author even (eventually) discusses a question that I asked early on, which was, how can you be sure what factors help someone survive when the only witnesses are the survivors? If those who died had done all the same things as the survivors but died anyway, how would you know? He admits that there are circumstances that nobody will survive, and that luck does play a part, but so many of his cases deal with several people in similar or identical circumstances, of whom some make it and some don't, that his arguments do seem to have some weight. Oh, and there's a lengthy bibliography at the end, and I was rather pleased to see several books that I'd enjoyed. [And of course I had to add a few more titles to my want-list!]
I listened to the book on audio after I'd read it, and enjoyed it even more the second time. And I've been recommending it to people at every turn. And using my own personal rating system - the number of little strips of paper I tucked into pages that I wanted to remember or quote - this book's a winner!
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