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Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why [Kindle Edition]

Laurence Gonzales
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (402 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"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.


Editorial Reviews

From 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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

What impels people to risk their lives by climbing mountains or deep-sea diving? What confluence of forces leads to drastic accidents? Why do some people survive disasters while others perish? A renowned journalist intrigued with risk, Gonzales conducts an in-depth and engrossing inquiry into the dynamics of survival. Relating one hair-raising true story after another about wilderness adventures gone catastrophically wrong and other calamities, Gonzales draws on sources as diverse and compelling as the Stoic philosophers and neuroscience to elucidate the psychological, physiological, and spiritual strengths that enable certain individuals to avoid fatal panic and make that crucial "transition from victim to survivor." People who survive being lost or adrift at sea, for instance, pay close attention to their surroundings and respect the wild. Gonzales also notes that survivors think of others, either helping a fellow sufferer or rallying to outsmart death in order to spare loved ones anguish. The study of survival offers an illuminating portal into the human psyche, and Gonzales, knowledgeable and passionate, is a compelling and trustworthy guide. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
231 of 245 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Listen Up, Grasshopper February 13, 2004
Format:Hardcover
Laurence Gonzales has written a riveting book, not about survival technique, but survival philosophy. The points he makes can be applied to any situation in which you find yourself endangered physically, mentally, or emotionally. He weaves together the tao te ching, chaos theory, musings on Roman military tactics, biological lessons on how the brain works to help us preserve the species by preserving ourselves, true-life experiences from people who have endured some of the more bizarre "accidents", and his own taste for thrills.

Gonzales bookends the essays with the story of his father, a scientist who, as a young flier during WWII, was shot down over Germany. He survived when his plane was shot down and plummeted to earth, then lived through a harrowing recovery as a POW.

Why did his dad make it when the rest of his crew was killed?

Some of this has to do with events you can't control, and some of it has to do with how to control yourself so that you can find a way out of dire straits. He points out that some people can make every correct decision and end up being killed, while others make every wrong decision and walk out of the woods (or off a mountain...) unscathed. But, you can learn to THINK like a survivor, and greatly increase your chances of getting through what may seem, even to others in the same sinking boat, like a no-win situation.

Gonzales's dad taught him, "Plan the flight. Fly the plan, but don't fall in love with the plan." Being prepared is only part of the equation; being able to adjust to changing circumstances is what a lot of us forget about.

Reading this book is an adventure in itself.
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481 of 521 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply wonderful January 8, 2004
Format:Hardcover
Those who are focusing on whether or not Gonzales is actually instructing you on how to survive in the wild are completely missing the point of Deep Survival. As a totally urban chick who'd rather die than hike, I bought the book not because I wanted to learn about mountaineering, but to investigate why I've survived a blood disorder that has killed others. And thanks to this book, I've gotten my answer. Gonzales beautifully explains and explores the paradox that must be absorbed completely if one is to live through a catastrophe--which is that to survive something, you must surrender to it, basically fall into it, accepting all the pain and suffering, if you're ever going to get out of it. When you're able to quickly adapt to a new reality and make this new place--however frightening--your new home, you've a much better chance of surviving than the person who's in denial. For one thing, your sense of spirituality and wonder deepens, and this is a tremendous life force in and of itself. It helps you enjoy where you ARE, instead of frantically trying to get to where you think you should be. This is simply a great life lesson, whether you're lost in the woods, or just trying to live a happier existence.
He explains the paradox so well--that in order to survive, one must surrender, yet at the same time not give in. There must be a sheer raw determination to win the game, yet an acceptance of possibly losing it as well, which paradoxically, gives you an edge. And if you can muster a playful spirit on top of it all, well--then you're just golden. A *great* read.
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235 of 265 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth hanging in there for the last third January 3, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really wanted to like this book. It was recommended by a friend, and is on a topic I'm very interested in. I've been involved in a lot of wilderness activities, have participated in rescues of myself and others, and am familiar with the literature on accidents and survival.

The author has hamstrung the book by trying to go 'high concept' and connect the book to chaos theory, complexity theory, and self-organizing systems. The author's understanding of the theories is very weak, and he seriously hurts the book by trying to force connections that don't exist and don't add to understanding.

He finally hits his pace in the latter part of the book when he largely drops the half-baked references to chaos theory and actually grapples with the question he set out to answer: who lives, who dies, and why? I wouldn't say his answers are unexpected, but he does a very good job of interwining well-chosen selections from survival literature with some original reporting and his personal story, and presenting them in a compelling way.

There is an excellent book hiding inside of Deep Survival. It's a shame that you've got to piece it together yourself from the good bits.
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47 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profoundly effective read October 26, 2003
Format:Hardcover
I was hooked when I read the inside cover. Gonzales will try to explain why a guy in a raft would say "I'm going to pick up the car." Then jump into the ocean to be eaten by sharks, and then explain why a person with no survival skills could survive the jungle. What could explain these differences in catastrophe? Does Gonzales, a very experienced adventurer, succeed?
No! Catastrophes are too complicated, nature is too capricious, and no one can fathom why someone was given -divinely or otherwise- the mental fortitude to survive while another surrenders. Gonzales admits this, but he does better. He shows us that many of those who survive have a mental profile that helps them survive and he encourages us to find this resilience which we all have by varying degrees. He does this through pages of wisdom.
So there are 15 chapters, each presenting a main lesson, and a fantastic tale of accidents, catastrope or survival. Minor points in each chapter is supported by 'minor' stories. Thus Gonzales masterfully weaves several stories in each chapter.
The stories presented are just awe inspiring. Let me give whet your appetite. Two raft guides steer their boats down a raging river. One notices entire trees racing by and has enough, the other doesn't and dies. A teenage girl falls a mile from an airplane with just her high heels and her dress. She survives, but now must face an inhospitable jungle below. SCUBA divers drown underwater with plenty of air in their tanks.
Gonzales does not get into the 'gadgetry' lessons of survival. There are no techniques about how to apply first aid, or rappel a cliff.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good book
Published 2 days ago by Larry Moorman
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend.
well done book that covers many aspects of survival. fascinating case studies taken apart from various angles. Highly recommend.
Published 19 days ago by W. Nielson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Happy and satisfied customer here. Thank you!!!
Published 19 days ago by Sally Zito
5.0 out of 5 stars Good research, good stories and examples
Good research, good stories and examples.He goes into the psychological aspects more than some might like, but very important as to why we make the decisions/mistakes we, as... Read more
Published 23 days ago by willowa
5.0 out of 5 stars The best kind of page turner: well written and full of fascinating and...
I just finished Deep Survival - and I'm buying two more copies to give as gifts. Laurence Gonzales is a very good writer in the tradition of Sebastian Junger, Jon Krakauer, or... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Georgetown Peabody Library
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I really enjoyed this book. His other books on "Survival" not so much.
Published 1 month ago by Peter N Bishop
3.0 out of 5 stars I Survived Reading It
I should have read the one and two star reviews here on Amazon b4 buying this book. I agree that it starts off great, but after a while.......zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Read more
Published 1 month ago by NHBunion
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great
Published 1 month ago by david laselva
5.0 out of 5 stars Compleling read!
A wonderful book tht will fill you with hope and purpose.
Published 1 month ago by Thumper
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical strategies
Good information
Published 1 month ago by Stanley Huddle
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More About the Author

Laurence Gonzales has won numerous awards for his books and essays, including two National Magazine Awards, the Carl Sandburg Literary Award, and the Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.

He is the author of the best-seller "Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why." The sequel to this book, "Surviving Surival: The Art and Science of Resilience," is now available in paperback. His collection of essays from the University of Arkansas Press is entitled "House of Pain."

His latest book is "Flight 232: A Story of Disaster and Survival," a 360-degree reconstruction of the crash of a fully-loaded jumbo jet. Richard Rhodes, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for "The Making of the Atomic Bomb," called this book, "Intense, gripping, alive with knowledge and compassion, Flight 232 is a new masterpiece of calamity and courage."

To see a video of the actual crash, visit the web site here:

flight232.com

You can also read excerpts of his books there and see the video trailer for his novel "Lucy" published by Alfred A. Knopf and available from Vintage paperbacks.

You can connect with Laurence on Facebook, here:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Laurence-Gonzales/274938225870097

Praise for Flight 232



Praise for Surviving Survival

"Timely, realistic, and accessible self-help book on the potential of growth from suffering. Recommended"-Antoinette Brinkman, Library Journal

"Excellent... An education for those wishing to be of use in a stressful, often frightening world." - Kirkus Reviews, Best Nonfiction Books of 2012

"Gonzales reveals how recovery can be a transforming experience that not only moves us forward but also enriches our lives in ways we never could have imagined." - More Magazine

Praise for Deep Survival

"I tore through Deep Survival like I'd been waiting to read it my whole life. Gonzales's writing is effortless and compelling, and his research is first-rate. I can't imagine a better book on the topic." -Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm

"Far and away the best book on management, leadership and employment I have read this year...Anyone who has ever tried to understand the mind of the entrepreneur should read this book." -Rickard Donkin, Financial Times

"Riveting accounts of avalanches, mountain accidents, sailors lost at sea, and the man-made hell of 9/11." -Stephen Bodio, Sports Illustrated

"This book will help you should you ever find yourself pinned under a rock in a roaring white water river. But it will help you even more if you ever find yourself wondering why your brain works the way it does under the stress of everyday life. A fascinating look into why we are who we are." -Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and Enough

"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." -Peter Stark, author of Last Breath: The Limits of Adventure

"[Gonzales's] science is accurate, accessible, up-to-date and insightful. An extremely good book." -Robert Sapolsky, author of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers

"Deep Survival provides a new lens for looking at survival, risk taking, and life itself. Gonzales takes the reader on a roller-coaster 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." -Jed Williamson, editor of Accidents in North American Mountaineering

"A fascinating, fast paced, and exciting adventure into survival, (including an excellent survey of the brain basis of fear)." -Joseph LeDoux, professor of neural science at New York University and author of The Emotional Brain and Synaptic Self

"Remarkable, unique, and compulsively readable." -David Roberts, author of Escape from Lucania: An Epic Story of Survival

"Deep Survival is by far the best book on the many insights into epic survival stories I have ever read." -Daryl Miller, chief of mountaineering, Denali National Park & Preserve

"Unique among survival books...stunning...enthralling. Deep Survival makes compelling, and chilling, reading." -Penelope Purdy, Denver Post

Praise for Everyday Survival

"Well-written and fascinating...this is the kind of book you want everyone to read." -Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Part scientific exploration, part poetic meditation, Everyday Survival is a book for everyone who cares about where we have come from, and where we may be going." -Bill Miller, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Santa Fe Institute

"The evidence Gonzales, a natural storyteller, cites is riveting...Each story is tightly told and convincingly deconstructed." -Santa Fe New Mexican

"Mixing psychology, sociology, and anthropology, Everyday Survival provides clear, cautionary lessons on the dangers of the world we live in." -Sacramento Book Review

"A plea for heightened awareness of our surroundings, and good reading for the how-things-work set." -Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Lucy

"[Gonzales has] Crichton's gift for page-turning storytelling, but also a vivid, literary-grade prose style, and a knack for getting inside his characters' heads." --Entertainment Weekly, Grade: A

"Gonzales's Lucy is an improbably delightful young lady. . . . Lucy pulls the reader in because of the sweet girl at its center, but the novel also makes one think about what it means to be human, and how love can be a bridge to understanding and acceptance." --BookPage

"Compelling. . . . Outstanding. . . . [Lucy] is beach reading with bite." --Chicago Tribune

"Timely and provocative. . . . Gonzales injects [his dialogue] with doses of frivolity, wit, and a youthful insight at once frightfully innocent and calculatingly wise to the power of media and technology." --The Boston Globe

"[A] coming-of-age-except-I'm-also-part-bonobo biotech thriller. . . . This is an enjoyable ride that makes you think about what it means to be human." --Outside

"The clever ending Mr. Gonzales has come up with for Lucy marks a complete departure from the Frankenstein template, and it's oddly satisfying on an emotional level." --The New York Times

"Lucy is more than a high-school drama, a fish-out-of-water novel about how a hybrid girl tries to fit in at a suburban Chicago high school. . . . This Lucy is an action-packed politically charged thriller that puts evolution forth as an unassailable fact, and raises ethical and moral questions about biotechnical science, government power and the morality of leadership." --Chicago Tribune

"Laurence Gonzales presents us with a captivating lead character. . . . Part science thriller, part tender novel, Lucy is written with a full awareness of the evil people are capable of. Gonzales, like Mary Shelley before him, shows us on the brink of a terrible knowledge." --The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA)

"Harks back to the science fiction of the mid-20th century. . . . Lucy [is] a likeable and thoroughly intriguing character with a unique perspective. . . . Reveals a generous spirit and a flair for suspense." --The Columbus Dispatch

"Love and loss are at the core of this unusual story that analyzes life, relationships and issues of evolution." --Woman's Day

"Gonzales excels at creating universal moments." --The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)

"Shrewd social critique. . . . Gonzales raises profound questions about identity, family, animal and human rights, and genetic engineering without compromising the ever-escalating suspense. Lucy is irresistible, her predicament wrenching, and Gonzales's imaginative, sweet-natured, hard-charging, and deeply inquisitive thriller will be a catalyst for serious thought and debate." --Booklist

"A riveting, moving and informative survival story." --San Antonio Express-News

"Lucy is much more than an 'ape' and this novel is much more than just a summer beach book." --Curled Up With A Good Book

"Gonzales does a great job of keeping the action moving at a fast pace. . . . Gonzales comes back to the question of what it means to be human again and again. . . . Reading Lucy is an interesting way to confront this question and find your own answer." --The Advocate

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