Thursday, January 04, 2007

Deep Survival

Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales

Phil was around the bend, knee deep in the Madison, and I was alone, gloriously alone, in a magnificent, unspoiled wilderness into which it seemed as though few people had ever ventured. I took one additional step as I mended my line, and in an instant was down on all fours. Recovering ignominiously and checking my ego (and my stone-bruised palm), I wondered what would have happened if the water was just a little deeper, faster, my foot had become stuck under a boulder, what if…

Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales (W.W.Norton, 2005) is a fascinating look at “Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why; True Stories of Miraculous Endurance and Sudden Death”. Moving effortlessly from brain chemistry to survival tales to the balance between emotional response and rational planning, Gonzales deals with why we take risks, why some of us insist on pushing the envelope and what is it about some people that they can stay calm and focused during a crisis and others collapse--often guaranteeing their demise. Many of the incidents are mountain climbers and pilots, but the circumstances in which these people find themselves provide helpful lessons for all of us that like to go “off the beaten track”. I highly recommend this as a quick and fascinating read for all people who love the outdoors.

Reviewed for NIFT by Dave W.

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