Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Survivors Club - by Ben Sherwood

This book tries to investigate why, in times of crisis, some people survive and some do not and what enables some to defy the odds. It presents a number of real-life stories about those who have survived near fatal experiences ranging from a knitting needle in the heart to a mountain lion attack to plane crashes to a Holocaust concentration camp. It investigates factors from genetic make-up to religious belief to just plain luck.

While it seemed to be marketed as somewhat of a self-help manual to boost your survival chances in a future life-threatening event, that was not really my perspective and interest when reading it. Sure, I learned a few things, like drinking a sugary beverage better combats hypothermia than a hot one and the "Rule of 3" for survival, which states that in any extreme situation you cannot survive for more than 3 seconds without will and spirit, 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food, and 3 months without companionship.  It was the amazing stories that held my interest.  For example, Sherwood tells about a man who survived ejection from a plane at supersonic speeds, a jumper from the Golden Gate Bridge who changed his mind about suicide on the way down and survived, and a woman whose life was saved by a knitting needle in her heart.  I love trivia and this book had some interesting factoids about survival.  For instance, it is not unheard of to survive falls from very high heights (even airplanes), lefties have statistically shorter lives than righties, and the best place to have a heart attack is a Las Vegas casino.

This book is not really a step-by-step survival manual.  It does, however, strive to improve your "Survivor IQ."  For the most part, I found the book interesting and engaging.  Although it certainly made me think about and evaluate my own tendencies in and preparation for a life threatening emergency, I might have been a little disappointed if I was expecting lots of practical detailed survival knowledge.  If this subject interests you, your own enjoyment and perceived value may vary.

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