This is a very good read. As you proceed through the book you realize more and more how this subject matter pertains to everyday life. If you were lost in the wilderness, would you sit down and die? Many people do just that. Don't do it in everyday life. Get a plan and "do something". Choose this book and listen to it with an empty glass.
yes, it won't teach you survival techniques. he tells you right there in the book: survival is all about mindset. the stories are interesting, with a little Taoism tossed in. entertaining and enjoyable.
oh, and the narration is terrific (sounds almost like anthony bourdain).
First the book is fun to read. The stories are incredible and amazing. But I really don't buy the premise that some people have got "it" and thus survive and others do not. The book selectively shows people who survived "against all odds." But in reality there are far more people who died when they were "against all odds." That's why it's "against all odds." Further, there are even more people who set out prepared, were skilled and ended up dying anyway. I do not doubt for a moment that in many cases survival comes down to having your personal amount of "it." But his a basic claim is that if you survived "against all odds" you have "it."
Several firefighters were inside World Trade Centers when they collapsed. A few survived. They did not survive because they had "it" and the other firefighters did not. They survived because they happen to be standing in the right place at the right time. People standing in front of them and people standing behind them did not survive. A six month old baby (with an oxygen mask) could have done the exact same thing (I personally like to believe that those firefighters had more "it" than anybody on the planet). Having said all that this is still a fun book to read if you enjoy survivor stories and particularly if you believe that you have "it." And I believe I do.
The recording and narration itself are excellent.
I was somewhat torn on how to review this book. When I first read the book, I came away feeling like I had learned alot about how the mind works and what it is that makes some people able to survive these life threatening situations.
After giving the book some time to process, I started to realize there's very little content or real information. A lot of theory (which only modest science behind it) and a lot of antecdotes.
I participated in a 1-hour meet-and-greet with the author to discuss his book and ideas. I was not at all impressed. Very little scientific method behind his ideas. His book makes it sound like his ideas have broad-reaching applications, but it turns out that they apply only to a very specific class of person.
Office workers, intellects, and city-dwellers need not apply. The mindset and skills he talks about only exist in survivalists, militia groups, and rural-country folk. This, more than anything else, was the most disapointing aspect of this book--learning that the author believes his book has no value to someone like me.
This book was fascinating to me, but I have to be honest, the conclusion of the book made me regret spending time reading it. I expected this book to be stories of survival and then after recounting the story, the author would explain why that person survived, why they didn't, or what they could do better.
In reality, this book is much more physiological and scientific. Many of the chapters speak about the physiology of the brain and what occurs during stressed situations. How parts of your brain shut down and others engage. If you enjoy science, this will fascinate you. No other survival book has spoke so much about the physiological and psychological effects of survival and more importantly, how to train your brain to be better in survival situations.
I like that the book focuses that survival is more than wilderness survival. It can be survival during financial troubles, business troubles, divorce, and death of others.
One of the essences of the book the author repeats, is that in survival situations you will do things that make no sense, things you would never do if you were at home, you make clearly stupid decisions. When you are in a survival situation you have little control over what happens, your brain owns you and very likely might make decisions which will kill you. After all the brain (as the author explains) is not designed to work in a way of your personal self-interest, but to benefit the future-interest of the species in general and future evolution. There is incredible supporting evidence to this theory as explained throughout the book. The author is also a very strong believer in other (semi-controversial) scientific theories such as "Chaos Theory", "Complexity Theory", and "Normal Accident Theory".
The first two thirds of the book was really interesting, but the last third was only mediocre. I feel like the book was clearly written at two time periods of the authors life. The first 2/3 of the book is very clear and concise. It is like the author has discovered the secret to survival and wants to share it with you, with enthusiasm. It sounds like a young man, optimistic that he has discovered the fountain of youth. The last 1/3 is incredible cynical, you can hear the sadness in the author's voice. It's like the author wrote the first part, then it sat on a shelf for 20 years, and later he decided to finish it. During that lapse in time he discovered that there really is no secret. His pessimism is apparently, and he repeats "Sometimes good survivors die, and bad survivors live, there is a lot of luck involved." The last third of the book is also much less organized and thought-through. It is jumbled together in large chapters that don't have a good sense of separation, leading to my idea that they are essentially ramblings. This is in stark contrast to the beginning which is incredibly focused and organized.
He continues by telling stories at the end of his pilot buddies who died when they did everything "right" and then how idiots have survived even after clearly making stupid decisions. He repeatedly drives home how unrelentingly un-fair life is. The ending of the book was clearly more personal for him. The stories at the end are all people he knew, compared to beginning of the book were stories of strangers he studied about through accident reports and interviews. The book even ends explaining, "We are all going to f*cking die, either in a plane crash or by cancer, you might as well go out living." Although there is some truth to that, I found it incredibly disappointing conclusion. I spent 10 hours listening to this book, and at the end the author makes it sound like it doesn't matter. The end of the book sounded to me, like the endless ramblings of a dying man. It seemed that he implied that he was wrong about what he wrote in the first part. I was really frustrated with that conclusion, after such an amazing composition of stories and data presented at the beginning, we end with a cynical view of hopelessness. The beginning and end of the book are so polar, I can't believe that the publisher published the book in this condition.
The Narrator did a great job though. 5 Stars to the Narrator.
Boring. Didn't get past the first 1/2 hour, I wanted a good survival story and got a term paper. If that's what you're looking for great, really, but for me a waste
After reading the reviews I was very excited to read this book and it was a total disappointment. I have read and listened to many survival stories and this was the worst book of this genre that I have listened to. I was expecting a thorough and exciting account of each story and that did not happen. I did not finish the book because it was so bad so maybe it got better, but I was so disappointed I could not continue on. If you are looking for a detialed and exiting account of survival stories and an explanation of why people survive, this is NOT the book for you.
I am a male in my early 50's. At this point I only listen to non-fiction audiobooks, primarily those dealing with spirituality and self-improvement. Audiobooks have had a huge positive influence in my life over the past year!
While not specific to outdoor pursuits, the lessons given in this book provide an insight into common mistakes made by people which land them in life threatening situations. The descriptions of the real life experiences are vivid and make for enthralling reading. Add to this the information on psychology presented herein and you've got a truly enlightening perspective on human behavior in extreme scenarios. I hope you never need to use what you learn from this book, but you will be better prepared if you have read it.
The overall message I took from it: Overcome your amygdala's panic response. STOP and THINK. Panic is normal but let it pass. Those are the ones that survive. (And it doesn't hurt to dress sensibly, look around--be aware, and always check exits).
None stand out. I really liked the narrator's voice. Very commanding.
It might work as a documentary, with different scenarios.
Liked it a lot. Better than most of the survival ones. (Sometimes too much psychological details but excellent).