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Memoirist and editor Matousek (Sex Death Enlightenment) attempts to dissect the relationship between life's harshest tests and the gift of self-discovery and survival in this absorbing compendium of anecdotes. The author, who has AIDS, interviews many survivors of trauma and loss, including writer Joan Didion, mystic Andrew Harvey, poet Stanley Kunitz and Tibetan nun Nawang Sangdrol, among others, to inquire how deepest crisis forces us to re-examine our lives and move forward. After stating that "Transformation is in our wiring," Matousek concludes that the key to our survival is not cheating death but living as passionately, creatively and courageously as possible. Using scientific data, psychological research and his own life experiences, he uncovers the essentials of enduring against all odds while answering his chief question: "What force flips a falling person back on his feet, reconstitutes him after disaster, helps him prevail in the face of great challenges?" Matousek shows an uncanny skill for merging spirituality, science and common sense into practical answers for surviving our own lives. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.