Today, nine out of 10 Americans live in places at significant risk of earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorism, or other disasters. Tomorrow, some of us will have to make split-second choices to save ourselves and our families.
How will we react? What will it feel like? Will we be heroes or victims? Will our upbringing, our gender, our personality - anything we've ever learned, thought, or dreamed of - ultimately matter?
Amanda Ripley, an award-winning journalist for Time magazine, set out to discover what lies beyond fear and speculation. Ripley retraces the human response to some of history's epic disasters, from the explosion of the Mont Blanc munitions ship in 1917, to a plane crash in England in 1985 that mystified investigators for years, to the journeys of the 15,000 people who found their way out of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Then, to understand the science behind the stories, Ripley turns to leading brain scientists, trauma psychologists, and other disaster experts, formal and informal, from a Holocaust survivor who studies heroism to a master gunfighter who learned to overcome the effects of extreme fear.
Finally, Ripley steps into the dark corners of her own imagination, having her brain examined by military researchers and experiencing through realistic simulations what it might be like to survive a plane crash into the ocean or to escape a raging fire.
Ripley comes back with precious wisdom about the surprising humanity of crowds, the elegance of the brain's fear circuits, and the stunning inadequacy of many of our evolutionary responses. Most unexpectedly, she discovers the brain's ability to do much, much better, with just a little help.
©2008 Amanda Ripley; (P)2008 Random House, Inc.
This (audio)book is endlessly fascinating. The author reveals that human behavior in disasters and emergencies often differs greatly than we'd expect. Interesting for a broad audience, and easily understandable.
First, Kirsten Potter performed a stellar narration. The book goes into some interesting detail about why some survive and others perish in disasters. In the last 30 or so minutes of the book, there is an amazing story about a security guy at MorganStanley who was on-site during the 9/11 terrorist attack. It describes who this guy was, what he did, and how it made such a positive difference in the survival rate on that terrible day.
I found this book interesting from multiple perspectives.
As a self-defense instructor (LEO, Martial Arts and Women’s ) I found this to confirm some training methodologies and explain some of my students’ successes. The lesson that Ms. Ripley showed in multiple contexts is that realistic repetition is the key to success in a survival situation. This runs counter to many self defense and martial arts methodologies that teach multiple techniques for differing situations. As a self-defense instructor it reinforced my instinct of teaching the basics in realistic situations until muscle memory is developed.
As an emergency preparedness professional (part time collateral duty), it has reinforced the need to focus on individual preparedness and the need to conduct a risk assessment of the most probable and dangerous contingencies. The analysis of the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire, the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, and the D.C. plane crash were very interesting and illuminating on human behavior in crisis situations and provide recommendations for how professional emergency preparedness officials could reduce loss of life. The realization gained from this book is that I was previously too focused on regulatory requirements and not on the bottom line - reducing loss of life. I will use this book as a reference in my Emergency Management course work. As a citizen it has motivated me to be more responsible and prepared for my families survival in natural and manmade disasters.
As a retired U.S. army infantry officer with five combat tours, it increased my understanding of my PTSD and explained the behavior of other people involved in previous traumatic experiences that I was involved. All of the information that Ms. Ripley presented made sense to a combat infantryman.
This book is worked well in the audible format. Although this book is essential listening, it is not something that I would use as a reference, although I would listen to it again. I would buy this in hard copy only to gift it to other people. The narrator was not annoying and I was motivated to listen to this book in all of my spare time. Listen or read this book now before you are in a life or death situation!
They looked at data, personal experience and MRI's to determine how and why people respond the way they do to trauma and that has value.
Maybe Tipping Point or Freakenomics to make a far fetched corollary.
She sounded vested in sharing the story and was easy to listen to for long stretches.
Your world has just been torn apart by the scariest thing imaginable how will you respond?
I would listen to this again. Everybody reacts differently in emergencies.This could save your life.
Are you ready when the sh** hits the fan.
Best story of the book on surviving.
Other books accomplish much more, would recommend "Deep Survival" or "Survivors Club"
I loved how the author showed you through several ministories about real people and what I did correctly... at least in that particular incident and what was going on in their brain. The author effectively debunks some myths and has enough detail from anaytomy to psychology to satifsy a reader. FYI the stories are personal and interesting and not overall "touchy feely" which is great for me. She gets you to sympathy with the people in the story without going on and on as many books do.
She is very clear to understand and uses enough verbal skill to make it actually seem like a dialog and interpersonal chat.
Honestly too many parts were so good, but I would say how a person survived both Twin Tower attacks; it was utterly fascinating.
I do not think this book would be good for simply reading so you know what to do. Not saying most people buy it for this, but it is interesting and greatly helps you understand society and individuals when disaster strikes.
You are your own rescuer.
I loved the detailed explanations of the different ways people cope with the "survival arc".
Potter is a great reader. I seek her out and that is how I found this book.
I would not listen to it in one sitting because there is too much to take in. But I have already listened to it twice in the last few months and will listen again soon. I want to learn the lessons well as well as remember many of the people she writes about. I will also seek out books about those people.
One defect is her insistence on an evolutionary explanation for heroism. It was a real stretch. And she did not mention the "Man in the Water" who passed the rope each time and is unknown except that he was on the other side of the tail section and had leg injuries. Hard to have an evolutionary explanation for that. Of course he is not alive to interview.
It was an interesting study, albeit inconclusive, on why people react the way they do in emergency situations.
The case studies and personal viewpoints from the disasters were unfortunately far more valuable than, it seems, those who study behavior. As a first responder and one who has seen far more than their fair share of emergencies, I strongly disagree with some of the experts on why people behave the way they do, particularly the "expert opinion" on heroes. They are obviously operating from a circumspect hypothesis, limited to their own personal experiences.
All were very well done except for the male voices- I would have preferred if she did not adjust her tone to unsuccessfully emulate a man's voice.
How calm and composed everyone was in the twin towers just before they collapsed. I guess that's New Yorkers for you - nothing phases 'em...even when it should.
This book is very engaging, and quite emotive. The disasters discussed are modern, and the science that accompanies is relevant and well researched.
There are some things in this book that everyone should be told about, and for that reason I think that you should get this book right now!
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