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Surviving the Extremes: What Happens to the Human Body at the Limits of Human Endurance

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  • Posted April 3, 2014

    Jackson Anderson block 4 This book was packed with information

    Jackson Anderson
    block 4

    This book was packed with information about the diseases and conditions that affect the human body when exposed to adverse environments. The exploration of the impact of these environments on the human body was incredibly detailed and fascinating thus the book, for me, became a page-turner. Author Kenneth Kamler offers a graphic description of the various conditions that can affect humans exposed to environments which test their endurance. Being interested in medicine, this book was very alluring and honestly made me excited for the things I might explore in my future education. Kamler details afflictions like Pulmonary Edema, which affects people in extreme high altitudes.  He explores its symptoms of “bubbling” sounding breathing, frothy mucus vomit, shallow breathing, coughing, and swollen/blue lips. His narrative allows you to understand how Pulmonary Edema affects people physiologically as pressure decreases with high altitude. Then, Kamler dives into treatment options such as descent and a variety of medications. Finally, once you have a comprehensive knowledge of the disease he continues to explain why it affects certain groups of people more than others, such as the fact that Sherpas, who because they continually travel to altitude, have developed, through the process of natural selection, enzymes which keep them more acclimated to altitude than newcomers or “lowlanders”. Kamler’s detailing of every aspect of these scenarios answers any question you might have about the conditions people face and truly paints a picture of the educational level a doctor must pursue to be successful in what they do. This book is jam packed with other examples of humans dealing with the impact of adverse environments. Every page is riveting and draws you to read on. For me, this book motivated me to learn so that I could bring myself to Kamler’s level of knowledge. I would definitely recommend it to anyone regardless of their interest in medicine, as it is riveting to understand the limits of the human body and how it can continue to surprise us. In true Ethnographic style it immerses the reader into the world of a doctor, and allows full comprehension of the knowledge they must posses and the situations they are faced with in the jungle, the high seas, under the waves, in the desert, in outer space, and at extreme altitudes. The book brings excitement and education to the same level to allow you this insight. I would rate this book about an 8.5/10. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2014

    Nathan Huber Block 1 Book Analysis Recently I read "Survivi

    Nathan Huber
    Block 1
    Book Analysis
    Recently I read "Surviving the Extremes, What Happens to the Body and Mind at the Limits of Human Endurance" written by Kenneth Kamler, M.D. Kenneth Kamler is a New York emergency room doctor who becomes intrigued with how much damage the human body can take before it breaks, this story follows Kamler as he travels the globe to some of the most dangerous environments, where instincts and knowledge can be the difference between life and death. This book makes it clear how amazing our human anatomy really is, Kamler goes into depth about the specific responses of the body to certain situations and the mechanisms it uses when it is pushed to great lengths. Kamler iterates the danger of the 6 scenarios he was put in, and not only learns new tricks himself, but teaches the reader along the way about the environment and how natives use it to their advantage. Major themes in this novel are quite obvious via the title, survival being the main focus, Kamler at one point in the book is accompanying an expedition up Mount Everest, one of the men had fallen 80ft and gotten himself wedged hand first between two thin sheets of ice, after recovering the man from the ice, Kamler notes that he has "seen healthier patients die faster in the Intensive Care Unit back in New York" (Kamler) but amazingly, the crew begins chanting and praying to lighten the spirits of the injured mountain man, and it works, he survives. The man makes a full recovery, further proving the resilience of the human body. I enjoyed this book; it kept me interested from start to finish, through Kamler's writing it was very easy to visualize what was happening and understand the dire situations he was put in. The only thing that bugged me was the fact that he used a lot of medical terms that I had to go back through and define simply because I'm not a doctor, but other than that, I enjoyed it. Overall I would rate this an 8/10, a must read for anyone who aspires to become some sort of medical personal.

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  • Posted February 18, 2014

    Surviving the Extremes is a riveting novel detailing the journey

    Surviving the Extremes is a riveting novel detailing the journey of Dr. Kenneth Kamler as he treats injuries and illnesses in the most extreme environments in the world. Divided into regions, the book begins in the Amazon Jungle where Dr. Kamler treats the injury of a young boy who sliced his wrist with a machete. Kamler journeys into the high seas, Sahara desert, Mt. Everest, and into outer space. In each of these settings he discovers a unique medical problem and pushes himself to the limits to treat it.  The major themes included in the novel are the human will to survive, and the adaptions of the human body. An important message explored is that the human body can often survive solely based on the will to live, and sometimes with unexplained circumstances.  I enjoyed reading about the medical procedures he performed in extreme settings and the interesting adaptions and tools of the locals to these environments. Anyone interested in extreme environments and medicine should read this book. The book is filled with medical terms and interesting facts about medicine. Overall, this is a fantastic read that I would recommend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2014

    Surviving the Extremes Ashley Smith When living in the most tr

    Surviving the Extremes
    Ashley Smith

    When living in the most treacherous conditions without proper medical necessities, survival is ultimately impossible, but with Dr. Kamler’s faith, prevailing knowledge and curiosity there is hope. Surviving the Extremes by Kenneth Kamler is an inspiring book that contains realistic events that individuals are experiencing every day. Dr. Kamlers first expedition begins at the Amazon Jungle where he must dedicate his life to helping individuals survive. Next, Dr. Kamler explores the high seas by listening to the stories a man named Steve Callahan experienced. Then, Dr. Kamler provides information on how difficult but possible surviving in the Sahara Desert can be. After, the story focuses on a woman named Audry Mestre who participates in a deep sea diving competition where she tries to break her husband’s record. Dr. Kamler then familiarizes his audience with his trip to Mount Everest. Finally, the book demonstrates the extreme conditions of suriving in outer space. The major theme of this book I believe is curiosity. One shouldn’t read it if they aren’t curious about survival or what doctors must do to help one survive. I personally really enjoyed this book; it was quite a thrill forcing me to read more every sentence. I was fascinated by all of the extreme conditions and tragic events that occurred, and how the individuals managed to survive in them. I honestly can’t say I disliked anything about this book; Kenneth is an amazing writer as well as doctor that is inspiring to read about. I would not recommend someone who does not enjoy reading thrillers; however I believe that almost anyone could get into this book. I would probably read it again in the future based on how inspiring and enjoying it was to read it now.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2010

    Absolutely awesome, must read for anyone interested in survival or even just the workings of the human body.

    This was actually the second time that I bought this book, having loaned the first out and nver seeing it again; so it's been a while since I read it. But, it is the best book I have ever read. An amazing mixture of medicine and survival skills, along with enviromental considerations. I would recomend this book to everyone, as what can be learned is soemthing that should be general knowledge, but it is still in depth enough that even those well versed in the subjects can still learn from it.

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  • Posted November 17, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Extreme Physiology

    This is a great book for those who like science, medicine, and the outdoors. Kamler goes into great detail about the physiological processes the human body undergoes at different environmental extremes. He also has a knack for making this interesting so that the book doesn't read like a textbook. This book is great for the scientifically and medically minded. However, the book may drag a little for some laypersons. Like I said, Kamler makes it as interesting as possible. But, while there is adventure here, the book is primarily a science book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2006


    Dr. Kamler tells it up front and raw. Very exciting book that describes the physiology associated with extreme environments. If your an outdoorsman like I am, this is a must read!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2005

    Made me wish I had gone to Med school, and liked to hike.,

    After reading about Kenneth's' visits to the Amazon forest, underwater caves, and the top of Mount Everest, to name a few, you may be struck by the explorer bug too. Ken's main job on the excursions in this book is to act as main medical advisor, but thankfully, he is also a grade A writer. He recounts his trips; I will not spoil the book by recounting them here, from a mostly medical point of view. At heart Ken is a humanist seeking to find out how and why the few who choose to live in the extremes, (95% of the earth is uninhabitable by humans) do so. He goes into great depth describing the cultural and physical adaptations that people under-go. After many generations living a rough life natural selection has weeded the weak and stupid away leaving only the most suited for survival in any given 'extreme' area of the world. Don't let the title scare you off. This isn't a gimmick book that slathers its tile with the adjective 'extreme', this is truly meant in a most literal fashion. If you are intrigued by the inner workings of the ER or even the TV show ER, then I would recommend this to you. If you have read the best seller 'Into Thin-Air' by Jon Krakauer, you may be interested in the fact that Kenneth Kamler was the ill-fated expedition's doctor on the spot and he has recounted his point of view of the tragedy in one of the chapters. Some of the places you'll visit and learn the many ways you can die (and the slim chances of your survival): 1. the Amazon jungle 2. lost at sea (above) 3. the heat of the desert 4. the pressure of the deep sea (below) 5. the top of Everest 6. and the vacuum of space After you read this, you'll be able to amaze your friends with your knowledge of cannibalism and butt parasites.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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