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Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why

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Overview

"Unique among survival books... stunning... enthralling. Deep Survival makes compelling, and chilling, reading."—Penelope Purdy, Denver Post
In ?Deep Survival?, Laurence Gonzalez combines hard science and powerful storytelling to illustrate the mysteries of survival, whether in the wilderness or in meeting any of life's great challenges. This gripping narrative, the first book to describe the art and science of survival, will change the way you see the world. Everyone has a ...
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Overview

"Unique among survival books... stunning... enthralling. Deep Survival makes compelling, and chilling, reading."—Penelope Purdy, Denver Post
In ?Deep Survival?, Laurence Gonzalez combines hard science and powerful storytelling to illustrate the mysteries of survival, whether in the wilderness or in meeting any of life's great challenges. This gripping narrative, the first book to describe the art and science of survival, will change the way you see the world. Everyone has a mountain to climb. Everyone has a wilderness inside.
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Editorial Reviews

Bill McKibben
“A fascinating look into why we are who we are.”
Charles Perrow
“A feast of excitement and wonder. Makes complexity and chaos come alive, girdled by neurological processes, drenched with fantastic accounts of danger and death. You will see the world differently.”
Robert Sapolsky
“Great stories of disaster and survival... combined with revealing science about the physiology and psychology of how we deal with crisis.... Accurate, accessible, up-to-date and insightful.”
Peter Stark
“Laurence Gonzales has masterfully woven together personal survival stories with the study of human perception to reach rock-bottom truths about how to live with risk.”
Jacki Golike
“Professional rescuers will love this book. It goes to the heart of the instincts that drive us to risk our own lives to save others.”
Daryl Miller
“Deep Survival is by far the best book on the many insights into epic survival stories I have ever read.”
Joseph LeDoux
“Gonzalez takes us on a fascinating, fast-paced, and exciting adventure into survival. His captivating stories, many from personal experience, will keep you turning the pages, stopping only to imagine how you, and your brain, would react when faced with a survival experience.”
Publishers Weekly
When confronted with a life-threatening situation, 90% of people freeze or panic, says Gonzales in this exploration of what makes the remaining 10% stay cool, focused and alive. Gonzales (The Hero's Apprentice; The Still Point), who has covered survival stories for National Geographic Explorer, Outside and Men's Journal, uncovers the biological and psychological reasons people risk their lives and why some are better at it than others. In the first part of the book, the author talks to dozens of thrill-seekers-mountain climbers, sailors, jet pilots-and they all say the same thing: danger is a great rush. "Fear can be fun," Gonzales writes. "It can make you feel more alive, because it is an integral part of saving your own life." Pinpointing why and how those 10% survive is another story. "They are the ones who can perceive their situation clearly; they can plan and take correct action," Gonzales explains. Survivors, whether they're jet pilots landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier or boatbuilders adrift on a raft in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, share certain traits: training, experience, stoicism and a capacity for their logical neocortex (the brain's thinking part) to override the primitive amygdala portion of their brains. Although there's no surefire way to become a survivor, Gonzales does share some rules for adventure gleaned from the survivors themselves: stay calm, be decisive and don't give up. Remembering these rules when crisis strikes may be tough, but Gonzales's vivid descriptions of life in the balance will stay with readers. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
Subtitled Who Lives, Who Dies and Why, Deep Survival is a series of true adventure stories where only some of the protagonists make it through. The link between the stories is Gonzales' analysis of the survival strategies—or deadly lack thereof. Originally prompted, at least in part, by curiosity about his own father's survival of a plane crash in WW II, Gonzales easily carries the reader along with a variety of tales. From experienced hiker Ken Killip's terrifying experience of being lost in the high peaks of the Rocky Mountains to 17-year-old Juliane Koepcke's lone survival of a plane crash in the Peruvian jungle, Gonzales offers well-told tales of lessons learned. Who survives is often surprising; "It's not who you would predictasometimes the one who survives is an inexperienced female hiker, while the experienced hunter gives up and dies in one nighta" (p.170). Gonzales analyses the stages of being lost (the first step is denial) and also the rules to survival (the first one is "be here now" or "perceive and believe"—a type of super-awareness of your situation). Gonzales also visits two survival schools where he learns that they teach not only the practical side of survival such as shelter and making a fire, but the psychological and even spiritual side. Being "aware of the moment" means not only thinking of how likely you are to be hit by lightening and how to avoid it, but realizing your own sense of self in a potential deadly environment. Such added insights make the book also appropriate for surviving the challenges of everyday life—loss and stress are not unique to the jungle or the mountaintop. Gonzales is an editor for National Geographic Adventuremagazine and has written numerous other articles for journals. (Editor's note: some adult language.) KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2005, Norton, 318p. bibliog. index., Ages 15 to adult.
—Katherine Gillen
Kirkus Reviews
Humans have a way of courting accidents. What separates survivors from victims is preparation and spirit—but also sheer dumb luck. "To survive," writes novelist/journalist Gonzales (One Zero Charlie, 1993, etc.), "you must first be annealed in the fires of peril." Well, yes: and peril, though sometimes in the eye of the beholder, is a constant companion of many folks, whether they court it or not—one reason, Gonzales observes, that inner-city kids tend to do better in outdoor survival training than do suburbanites, who have far less experience with predators. Thrill-seekers who put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of the adrenaline rush may have all the right gear and even a little know-how, but most of them are just ordinary Joes who, "when put under stress, are unable to think clearly or solve simple problems. They get rattled. They panic. They freeze." Cataloguing, often by way of personal anecdote, the dazzling array of possibilities by which gnarly outdoor experiences can become annihilating ones—a body surfer hits the wrong tide and gets dashed against the rocks, a snowmobiler gets chewed up in an avalanche, a hang glider augers into a mountain or a parachutist into the waiting earth—Gonzales ponders just what traits, and just what training, can increase such an ordinary person’s odds of survival in tight situations, short of simply staying home. (But even then, he reckons, we get snuffed. Given that one person dies in this country every minute in a transportation accident, the death of only a dozen-odd climbers every year makes mountaineering seem a safe bet by comparison.) This work, oddly delightful for all its gruesome moments, closes with a compendiumof tips for staying alive in the wild, among them the necessity of staying calm when danger rises, waiting for the fear to pass, planning what to do next, and believing that the odds are with you against all evidence to the contrary. A superb, entertaining addition to a nature buff’s library—or for anyone not tucked safely away in a bunker. Agent: Gail Hochman/Brandt & Hochman
Sebastian Junger
“Gonzales's writing is effortless and compelling, and his research is first-rate. I can't imagine a better book on the topic.”
Jerry Kobalenko
“A gripping and thoughtful investigation of the greatest adventure of all—survival. Through riveting tales of disaster and endurance, Gonzales explores the icy mental clarity that characterizes survivors.”
Jeff Randall
“Should be required reading for anyone venturing off the beaten path.”
Jed Williamson
“Deep Survival provides a new lens for looking at survival, risk taking, and life itself. Gonzales takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride that ends with rules of survival we can all stand to learn. Equally important, he answers the question: what is the value of taking risks. I love this book.”
David Roberts
“Remarkable, unique, and compulsively readable, Deep Survival is three books in one: a compendium of vivid tales of disasters and near misses in the wilderness; a probing analysis of what the latest neuroscience and psychology can tell us about 'who lives and who dies'; and, finally, a moving memoir about Gonzales's father, whose own miraculous survival after a plane crash behind German lines in World War II launched the author on his lifelong quest into the mystery of risk and adventure.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393326154
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/17/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 55,377
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Laurence Gonzales is the author of Surviving Survival and the bestseller Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why. He has won two National Magazine Awards and is a fellow of the Santa Fe Institute. His essays are collected in the book House of Pain. He lives in Evanston, Illinois.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 66 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(26)

4 Star

(25)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 66 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Good book

    I read this book because it was on the www.personalmba.com reading list. I went into with an open mind, and I was ready to see how surviving traumatic events were linked to everyday life; well, I wasn't disappointed.

    * Control your fear by laughing/smiling/making fun at it, and be cool. This actually works. I used it in a meeting and a confrontation on the subway. The be cool mantra rings in my head and it works.
    * Plans don't always work; rely more on emotional response. I have found myself stuck on a plan and explaining away obvious cues and issues. I can acknowledge it now, and I have even found myself thinking - am I explaining this away?
    * It's ok to resign into a situation but not give up. It's true you come full circle. The "is what it is" mentality has pulled me through difficult times.

    There are many other points; not all equally valuable (at least to me). It's a good read; so, enjoy.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 24, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Survival Requires Positive Mental Attitude

    This book is among my top 3 Survival Books. The real-life stories are gripping alone but the book is threaded together with strong common themes and the author has great psychological insight. This book would appeal to both "Left Brain" logical analytical types like me who always have to disect the parts and create "mental maps". It would also appeal to the "Right Brain" intuitive perceptive creative "big picture" types - people who naturally perceive their surroundings. Each chapter stands alone yet refers back to repeating themes of WHO survives. It is the humble person. It is the decisive person. It is the spiritual person. People in real life are faced with incredible extreme survival situations and I've always been intrigued with the human qualities that give them the focus and drive to survive. I love to hike and have always said the mind can be your best friend or worst enemy. Like "Into The Wild" or "Into Thin Air", the surviver must never underestimate the power of nature and the surviver must know you don't have to BE strong, you just have to FEEL strong! I didn't want this book to end. - Laura

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 10, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Not just for the weekend warrior

    Deep Survival is gripping, not only because of Gonzales's tales of death and survival but because of the brain science he presents, simplified to apply to everyone. He humbles the elite outdoor sportsman, the weekend warriors, and the average person by causing personal reflection and insight into your own survival skills.<BR/><BR/>Gonzales reveals ways to discern your inner voice of reason from the struggle with emotion during a survival situation. He explains how a survivor's brain works both for and against them and how they need the voice of reason to be the loudest voice they hear. He also discusses how prior training and experience can help you save your own life, or contribute to losing it.<BR/><BR/>This book should be taught in every high school to provide teens with a hunger for exploring their world balanced with ways to prepare for the unexpected survival moments we all inevitably encounter.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2012

    Interesting but can be dry and technical at times.

    This book has some interesting stories, but the author interrupts them with pages of technical discussion that are often peripheral to true understanding; there's a lot of discussion of psychology and neurochemistry that don't illuminate the subject.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 7, 2012

    When confronted with a life-threatening situation, 90% of people

    When confronted with a life-threatening situation, 90% of people freeze or panic this book is about what the remaining 10% do to survive and thrive. It is written by Laurence Gonzoles, who has written for national geographic and other nature magazines. His writing style is a bit jumpy and confusing at times, but that is also what makes it a fun read. He uses a lot of imagery and first hand knowledge to seem like he really knows what he is talking about.
    Deep Survival goes through many real life scenario which entail survival themes. From snowmobilers in the backcountry, to hikers on mount hood. Almost every type of survival is talked about in depth. The major theme throught the entire book is that those with the will to survive will survive, it doesnt matter the tools at your disposal. Another message in the book is that all training you have will go out the window when your running on pure adrenalin; once that fight of flight response is engaged, those are your only two options. This is not your normal survival handbook that tells you what you need to know, the only message that this one tells you to bring out into the woods to survive is that you must want to survive.
    What I liked most about this book is his seemingly experienced attitude, like he knew what he was talking about. This really made the book believable and a true non-fiction experience. This I didn&rsquo;t really enjoy about this book were the jumpy ramblings not having todo with survival, or his oh so canny way of relating everything back to his grandfather. We get it bro, your grandfather is your hero, he doesn&rsquo;t need to be in every paragraph although. I also didnt like how long this book was for the message it was getting at; it didnt need all 15 chapters, it could have gotten away with just 5. In the end I would give this book 3 out of 5 stars for the messages and evidence it had, this could have been 4 stars if it was just presented in a better way.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Not particularly enlightening

    Not the fascinating stuff of Jon Krakauer, but had some interesting vignettes. Seemed a little repetitive in its themes: you die in the wilderness because you are A) foolishly unprepared (ever hear of a compass?), B) foolishly overconfident (ever hear "pride goeth before a fall"?), or C) foolishly in denial of the obvious (ever break the park rules and light a fire to keep from freezing?). The author humbly admits to his own share of all three. He does delve into the structure of the brain and how it might cause lapses in rational judgement in these extreme environments. But even so, the most interesting stories of disaster are the ones common sense could have avoided. The most interesting stories of survival are mostly due to luck -- bumping into a life guard before swimming out into enticing but treacherous waters, not breaking a leg in the plane crash so you CAN walk out of the Amazon, arbitrarily picking the right fork in the road leading to the last boat out at the last minute before the ice storm. Not a bad read, funny at times, but not the insightful, edge of your seat read I was hoping for.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2014

    Disorganized.

    Rambling thoughts without clear objectives.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2012

    Brag Book

    This book is mostly bragging by the author. What a waste of time. His basic theory is that accidents are going to happen.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2012

    Great Book

    I enjoyed reading this book. As an outdoorsman, I found some interesting insight into why some people make life ending decisions and others don't. There's also a lot of insight that can be gleaned from human nature and behavior.

    Well written.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 14, 2011

    Who Survives and Who Is . . . Well, Dead.

    This book attempts to parse out what makes one person a survivalist and another person, well, dead. From attitude to preparation Laurence Gonzales uses a mix of stories and personal experience to support his theories on what makes a good survivalist. Some of his conclusions are a little contradictory but every story and analysis is interesting and entertaining. Great read prior to engaging in any high risk activity.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2010

    NOT WHAT I THOUGHT!

    Was un-happy with book. Was hoping for more stories on survival. This reads like a Medical Book. I do not care what part of the brain is working and why. Just give me the true stories and stop trying to impress the medical world with your findings.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 5, 2009

    Illuminating discussion of risk taking and survivor behavior

    I found this a fascinating explanation of risk takers and why some people survive impossible situations.

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  • Posted August 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A great read. awesome for anyone...especially those who love the outdoors.

    This book is excellent. It is a quick read that is a lot of fun. Very well written. Facts portrayed in a very intriguing way, makes you want to keep reading. Makes the reader think twice before planning next hiking/backpacking/outdoor trip.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2009

    Everyone I recommended it to loves it

    I thought this was a great book that kept my attention by having many stories. Everyone that I have recommended the book to has loved it. I have a certain shelf on my book case for the books I recommend and this made it to that shelf.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2009

    fascinating and compelling book

    I picked this up to browse while having a cup of coffee, not intending to buy it. But I was immediately hooked and ended up buying copies for myself, my son, and my son-in-law, who all loved it, too.

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  • Posted October 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Lessons for Management

    While writing a human resources / management book, I realized that many of my references did not come from the world of business but rather from diverse subject matters. Nothing in my large stack of reference material was more useful than Laurence Gonzales's book on survival. <BR/><BR/>I greatly appreciated the writing style and the pace had me finishing the book in two settings. More importantly, I was so very glad to find that the lessons in this `survival' book could be readily applied to the business arena. <BR/><BR/>The lessons in this book: be calm, be decisive and never give up, were massaged and incorporated in my work. Together with surveys provided by our military leadership in Iraq, I was able to develop a guide for management in not only how to survive but thrive in a hostile environment. <BR/><BR/>I highly recommend this book to business leaders that truly want the best for their organizations and themselves. Michael L. Gooch, SPHR

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2008

    A Great Book

    It was interesting to me to read the other reviews here - clearly, there are two ways to approach this book - one for the great stories, the other for the mindset of the people in the stories. Personally, I found the first part of the book the most compelling - the conversation about how our minds work. The idea of a plan as a 'memory of the future' is a line that sticks with me. In my work as an NLP practitioner I know that we create pictures and stories in our minds that determine what our experience of the world will be. After a dramatic experience, we decide (unconsciously) what that experience means to us. We translate each decision into behavior, without even realizing it. And our behavior determines our final outcome. In our regular lives, it may be whether we get the new job, or whether we succeed or fail in a relationship. Taken to the edge, it means do we live or do we die? This book offers outstanding, compelling and edge-of-the-seat (or the glacier) suspenseful accounts of how our lifetime accumulation of unconscious decisions make that determination. Current neuroscience and quantum physics give us tools to identify and then change our internal, unconscious decisions, specifically and rapidly. This book is a very important piece of personal leverage - it is a doorway into understanding the ultimate consequences of whether we choose to bring our decisions to the conscious level and set ourselves up for DEEP Survival.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2008

    Great Source

    There was much meandering thought by the author throughout 'especially in the early part of the book' however the author's concepts were clarified as he relayed the various stories and tied them into his analysis. I had also read or heard about many of the stories relayed in the book however, many of the stories were new to me and this proved an excellent source for additional future reading. I will say the book was better the further I read and the stories 'although some I had heard before' kept it interesting. The conclusion brought many of the early concepts to closure and it was a compelling read near the end. The best part was the introduction to the survival stories that were new to me. Much of the time it is difficult to find new material.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2007

    The most important skills

    I've done plenty of camping and hiking in some rather bad conditions. Any outdoorsman can tell you about the skills required to stay alive when the unexpected happens. But sometimes, physical conditioning and survival training just does not seem adequate. But Deep Survival reveals the most important and essential survival skills, often not found in survival manuals. Yes, phychology often determines 'who lives and who dies' and this book goes a long way to plug the gaping hole in survival manuals.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2006

    Must-read if you have ever put your life on the line

    First of all, this is a very readable book -- I devoured it in no time flat. The premise is intriguing, and I really related to a lot of the anecdotes and examples. Some of them are jaw-dropping. Five people in a life raft: three die, two survive. Why these two? Although the book does not completely answer this question, it does bring up quite a bit of material. I would heartily recommend it to anyone who has ever risked their life in search of truth or beauty.

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