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Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience Hardcover – September 10, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Illness. Divorce. Job Loss. The Death of a loved one. You don't get this far in life without experiencing some adversity. But while you can't avoid painful events, you can learn to control your response to them. Here, [Gonzales] revals 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. "

About 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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (September 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393083187
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393083187
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #785,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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:


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:


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

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Mine is one of many stories in this book, of survival and its aftermath. Almost ten years ago, following a physically and emotionally devastating shark attack, I shunned the media and denied all interviews. When author Laurence Gonzales asked whether he could include my story in this book, I felt certain that it was time, and that his book is the right venue. His previous best seller, Deep Survival, changed the way I look at the physical world. Surviving Survival changed the way I look at everything. My story is horrific enough, but as I read the stories of the other survivors included in this book, and the after-journey each of them has traveled, I felt awed and humbled.

Laurence does a brilliant job of putting the reader in the moment. The most poignant story for me in this book is that of a Holocaust survivor. I've read many accounts in the past, but this is so raw and painful and riveting and so deeply personal that I literally had to put the book down in the middle of it and walk away for several hours before I could continue reading.

I wish that every person enduring divorce, or suffering the loss of a loved one, who's battling cancer, or coping with traumatic injury or stress, could read this book. It is both sobering in its intensity, and a soothing balm in terms of leading you through the coping mechanisms and survival journey of others. Masterfully written is an over-used term, but in this case I can't think of a better fit. Thank you Laurence for this fabulous book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I discovered "Deep Survival" when friends bought it for my husband. When I read of "Surviving Survival", I ordered it immediately. I can't begin to relate how profoundly "Surviving Survival" has impacted me. Two years ago, my dog died in my lap after two days of uncontrollable seizures. It's not a shark or croc attack, but it devastated me. I cried and then tried to put it away. It is in my DNA to think I must be tough. Last January, I learned my friend of 31 years had 6 mos to live -- she died in April. Last month, we lost my mom after two years of a downward spiral that began with what was supposed to be simple shoulder surgery. On top of it I am a reporter for a large daily and very frequently cover very dark stories. These past 8 months or so I have been in living hell. I was physically ill. I had panic attacks and overwhelming bouts of sheer dread. Fortunately for me, I long ago discovered the power of a good shrink, but even she wasn't helping nearly fast enough. In fact, I was getting sick just thinking of seeing her. I no longer knew myself. And then I picked up this book and I got it. Suddenly, everything made sense. I don't know how I managed to live 52 years and not know the information in this book, but knowing it now is truly a gift and one that will stay with me always.
This book is aptly titled -- it is about how we survive surviving -- but make no mistake this is no dull science read, rather a compelling collection of tales from everyday people faced with situations that are beyond horrifying. It's written with compassion, grace and honesty. Bravo to Laurence Gonzales. This is destined to be a classic.
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A friend of mine who is actually featured in this book recommended it randomly on Facebook. It's not a book I would normally read but coming from her the recommendation stuck with me. Turns out this book was perfect! I've been divorced for for 3 years and stuck. Others seem to move on after their divorces what was wrong with me.... I got locked in a loop that started to isolate me and that made things worse. After reading this book I understand my wiring better and how to help my mind move on! At times moving, others confronting and inspiring. I highly recommend this book!
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Format: Hardcover

"It is nearly impossible to live a full life without trauma. It may not be a shipwreck or war. It might be a husband who tries to kill you. It could be a bear that tears off half of your face. It might be cancer. But all such events share a dramatic quality that seems irresistible to the storyteller within us.

[These] stories always end like this: Just when Debbie and Brad seem doomed, the Russian freighter heaves into view and they are rushed to the hospital. Music up. Roll credits. Then they all live happily ever after. Offstage, of course.

But let's put the players back on stage and see what happens next."

The above extract is found in the prologue of this interesting and powerful book by Laurence Gonzales. He is a journalist and author.

This book is about coping and resilience AFTER a major trauma. In many cases, trauma or crisis survivors suffer more AFTER the trauma than they did during the actual trauma.

The author in each chapter describes the actual life-threatening experience that a person has survived (these alone makes for compelling reading) and how that person has coped in the aftermath of that experience.

Along the way (and I found this really interesting), Gonzales delves into several topics such as neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, and biochemistry.

The last two chapters are entitled "The science of adaptation" and "The rules of life." These chapters put together all that was mentioned in the beginning chapters into precise and concise packages.

Finally, there is a two-page "Author's Note" at the end of the book. Here, the author tells us among other things what's going on now with all the survivors mentioned in this book.
Read more ›
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