Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why

Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why

4.4 37
by Amanda Ripley
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0307352897

ISBN-13: 9780307352897

Pub. Date: 06/10/2008

Publisher: Crown Publishing Group

Discover how human beings react to danger-and what makes the difference between life and death

Today, nine out of ten 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

Overview

Discover how human beings react to danger-and what makes the difference between life and death

Today, nine out of ten 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?

In her quest to answer these questions, award-winning journalist Amanda Ripley traces human responses to some of recent history's epic disasters, from the explosion of the Mont Blanc munitions ship in 1917-one of the biggest explosions before the invention of the atomic bomb-to the journeys of the 15,000 people who found their way out of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. To understand the science behind the stories, Ripley turns to leading brain scientists, trauma psychologists, and other disaster experts. She even has her own brain examined by military researchers and experiences, 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307352897
Publisher:
Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/10/2008
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.46(w) x 9.36(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: "Life Becomes Like Molten Metal" v

Part 1 Denial 1

1 Delay: Procrastinating in Tower 1 3

2 Risk: Gambling in New Orleans 22

Part 2 Deliberation 53

3 Fear: The Body and Mind of a Hostage 55

4 Resilience: Staying Cool in Jerusalem 85

5 Groupthink: Role Playing at the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire 108

Part 3 The Decisive Moment 139

6 Panic: A Stampede on Holy Ground 141

7 Paralysis: Playing Dead in French Class 163

8 Heroism: A Suicide Attempt on the Potomac River 179

Conclusion: Making New Instincts 203

Author's Note 225

Appendix 1 How to Boost Your Survival Odds 229

Appendix 2 Notes 233

Appendix 3 Selected Bibliography 251

Index 259

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Unthinkable 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book WILL save your life. It is by far the best and most intriguing book I have ever read. People believe they know how they would react in an emergency situation. HA! After this book, you will mentally practice what you will do in case of a disaster, and therefore, SAVE YOUR LIFE. Everyone on the planet should read this book. It's fantastic. I just bought a second copy to mail to my brother.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It truly is a must read for everyone, so that people can understand and practice what they would do if disaster happens to them. It explains various responses to disaster situations, and why they occur. It explained my own behavior in certain stressful times, that I couldn't understand at the time they happened. It is very timely, including 911 and the Virginia Tech massacre as examples. PLEASE READ!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a professional disaster planner, I found this to be a great book. It includes first hand accounts of actions taken during emergencies, then explains how and why those actions have come about through our evolution. She talks with responders, psychologists, neurologists and every day folks and makes it all readable and interesting.
Charlottes-son More than 1 year ago
You may end up never driving agin but, you will learn about survival. I love books that examine why we do the things we do. This is one of those. This book is well written and well documented. You will be shocked at what an easy thing it is to survive or not, with simple quick awareness. That is not to say that reading this book will save your life. It will however help you understand how and where you put yourself in unnecessary danger.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the better of the psychology survival books.
MameWI More than 1 year ago
Worth your time reading this fantastic book..............you will not be sorry.
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WritingRaven More than 1 year ago
I would love to make this required reading before you can graduate from high school.
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DesertMom3 More than 1 year ago
I heard Amanda Ripley on NPR and, having evacuated from a building as a child during a fire in which five people died and, of course, watching the horror of people jumping off the WTC on 9/11, I was motivated to get the book. Ripley covers both WTC bombings from the point of view of an employee who survived both; a terrible fire in a private club in a young waiter saved many people, but in which many people died; a pilgrimage to the Hajj, which has several times been the scene of crowd-related deaths; and a plane which crashed into the Potomac River. She weaves these personal stories around past conventional thinking about crowd control and new research about how people actually behave, with clear instructions on how to change that behavior to stay alive. Case in point: More often than not, when people are aware that a fire has broken out, rather than immediately evacuate, they linger to pick up personal items, thinking they have some time, when in fact, seconds count. This seems obvious, but in a crisis, we tend to react the opposite way we should. In the case of the Hajj pilgrimages, the stampedes were finally averted by better time and crowd management, but for the longest time, those in charge wrote off the deaths as "God's will" in spite of one man (a non-Muslim) who studied the Hajj crowd issue and repeatedly brought solutions to their attention. Even for those haven't been in similar situations, it's worth reading, just to have the information stored in the back of the brain, because you may need that info in the future.
deboraht10 More than 1 year ago
A double purpose book. I bought 3 more copies to give to my adult children. Useful advice not only for possible disaster scenarios but also a clearer understanding of how the human brain works and how to short circuit possible dangerous "freezing" or denial time and shorten your reaction time. Applicable to better and more effective decision making in daily life also.