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.
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.
Before listening to this book I have also listened to DeBecker's The Gift Of Fear and Grossman's On Combat as well has having read the book by legendary NYPD officer Jim Cirrillo. As I listened to this book I immediately thought of the lessons from those only to learn all have been consulted by the author. While those other books focus on human behavior in combat this one focuses on behavior in any disaster. Almost all the lessons are the same from physiological and psychological reactions to the importance of preparedness.
Everyone should read this book. We live in a world where disaster while rare on a personal level is certain to occur around the globe on a regular basis to someone. This book is not about living a life of terror, afraid to go about your daily life. This book is about educating and enabling you to deal with situations which you will hopefully not experience. One key point is the antidote to fear is knowledge. This book is knowledge and everyone should read it.
My coworker recommended this book to me (living in Southern California and all) and it was excellent. I really like how it wasn't sensationalized nor did it use scare tactics. I really responded to the data (psychological, statistical, and real world accounts) it presented and the author's clear, level-headed approach to the subject matter. It is better to be prepared and trained than to remain ignorant because in a real crisis (and in my case, likely a major earthquake) you have no idea what your personality will be like. I recommend listening to this book several times because you will glean different / additional take always each time.
As someone who has gone through EMT training, now an RN, I've encountered a lot of incomplete or misleading information about what to do in emergencies. This book does exactly what it says it will do. Informs about how real people react in emergencies, why we think that happens, and how to alter both your approach and your level of knowledge in order to be as well-prepared as possible for an emergency. The emphasis is on regular people taking small steps that add up to a much more functional populace. This is NOT a doomsday book that goes into intricate, expensive prep for unlikely events. This book focuses on reasonable preparation (within the boundaries of our control) for things that are reasonably likely to happen. It's told in such a way that it reads like a novel, with engaging stories. The author shares important (and sometimes scary) details, but does not indulge in gratuitous, irrelevant descriptions. There are many of her own research experience stories, too, that explain how she synthesized this information, and what the state of our knowledge is. The only thing I'd add is an unequivocal command to take a CPR/AED/first aid class!
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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