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The Third Man Factor: Surviving the Impossible Paperback – September 7, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A scientific mystery or divine intervention is how Geiger, the editorial board editor at the Globe and Mail and author of Frozen in Time, describes The Third Man Factor, the human knack of facing deprivation and possible death with an unseen presence pointing the path to survival. He researched these visitations for six years, chronicling their history in harrowing life-and-death events with mountaineers, sailors, divers, aviators and polar explorers. It is to Geiger's credit that he stresses the very human need to endure and survive through critical times in the included anecdotes over the sometimes convoluted scientific jargon, especially the gripping tales of the last 9/11 survivor Ron DiFrancesco, NASA astronaut Jerry Linenger aboard the Mir space station and merchant seaman Kenneth Cooke, who paddled in shark-infested waters. Whether this guardian angel factor is neurological or divine, Geiger's fresh, insightful book will tell readers things that are not easily explainable, but no less real for that. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Riveting...truly revelatory...an important book" -- The Explorers Journal
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Weinstein Books; First Trade Paper Edition edition (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602861293
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602861299
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Geiger is the bestselling author of The Third Man Factor: Surviving the Impossible, and four other books of non-fiction, including the international bestseller Frozen In Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition, which describes the results of the Franklin Forensic Project. He also authored, with Dr Peter Suedfeld, the scholarly study, 'The Sensed Presence as a Coping Resource in Extreme Environments.' His latest book, The Angel Effect: We Are Not Alone, has just been released. Geiger's work has been translated into eleven languages.

He has lectured widely, including presenting talks at the National Arts Club, and the Explorers Club. He was a presenter at the 2009 ideaCity conference. His documentary film appearances include National Geographic Channel's "Explorer: The Angel Effect," which is based on The Third Man Factor, as well as PBS NOVA in "Arctic Passage", BBC4 in "Wilderness Explored: Arctic", The Discovery Channel in "Islands of Mystery: Dead Silence", and on Bravo! (Canada) in "FLicKeR."

Geiger was born in Ithaca, New York.

Customer Reviews

I'm not sure if the subject matter is lacking or the writing (maybe both).
John Dahl
This book will not... cannot... give the final answer to the question that all mankind has always been looking for.
Rick Shaq Goldstein
This tour includes a serious look at the scientific aspects along with the spiritual elements.
Michael L. Gooch

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Rick Shaq Goldstein on August 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This story will keep the interest of people who believe in a religious presence in their life... and it will just as strongly mesmerize people who don't. The "THIRD-MAN" is a term that was given to the phenomena that has been reported many... many... times by people from all walks of life... not only all around the world... but from above the earth as well... when they were "assisted" during a tumultuous event... that could have ended their lives. All of these people... that included... mountaineers, divers, polar explorers, prisoners of war, solo sailors, shipwreck survivors, aviators... and even astronauts... admitted having a mysterious... yet calming... "presence"... either appear in a form they could actually see and talk to... or... that they just felt that someone was either leading them... or following behind them... when their life was on the line. Throughout the telling of these phenomenal stories... the author provides documented medical and historical evidence... that at times verifies that there really is a "THIRD MAN"... and at other times... neurologists attempt to explain it away... based on criteria such as thin air... or hallucinations. Every reader probably knows... that scientists admit... that they still don't know what a large part of the brain is capable of... and why it does what it does.

It takes a lot of courage for these famous people to openly write in books about their "THIRD-MAN" experiences... and they have been doing this for over one-hundred years. For the sake of any potential readers who might make a decision not to read this book because they're not interested in that thin line of "FAITH-AND-BELIEF"... I would like to wholeheartedly recommend you read this... even putting that subject aside... simply because of how utterly... utterly...
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone who loves adventure in the wilder parts of our planet will be enthralled by this book. According to Wikipedia, the "Third Man" factor is a phenomenon in which an unseen presence provides comfort or support during traumatic experiences.

The most famous example is recorded by Sir Ernest Shackleton, who said in his book about the harrowing final leg of his epic tale of struggle and survival in the Antarctic region "during that long and racking march of thirty-six hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers of South Georgia, it seemed to me often that we were four, not three."

Since then, numerous other reports of a strikingly similar nature have come to light. Geiger's book describes many of these experiences in vivid language.

Interestingly, it is not only people "in extremis" who experience the feeling of another presence at certain times in their lives. Geiger also describes many such examples, from the invisible friends of young children to the experiences of religious mystics.

A surprising number of people sense the presence of a loved one after death. Others have had vivid experiences of Guardian Angels at critical points in their lives.

Geiger makes the point that our minds have an ability to evoke "sensed presences" in many critical situations and that this is a powerful evolved survival mechanism. He marshalls good scientific evidence for this claim. It is all quite credible, but sometimes he seems to want to believe his hypothesis too much and reads too much into the evidence.

However that may be, it is the stories themselves that make this book well worth buying. We can choose whatever explanation we like for the "third man factor.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Rick on September 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
John Geiger's terrific new book was one of the more rewarding reading experiences I've ever had. Yes, it's entertaining--Geiger is a talented writer who recounts many thrilling tales here--but I was even more moved by the underlying message of hope. Whether you think the Third Man can be explained by science, or divine intervention, what is undeniable is that there exists within us an innate will to survive. What can possibly be more universal than that? There is something in this book for every reader.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael L. Gooch on February 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Geiger is the editorial board editor at the Globe and Mail and author of Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition. What he is not is a scientist I didn't expect nor receive an in-depth review of the scientific side of this phenomenon. Geiger does give us an intelligent tour of Third Man visitations. This tour includes a serious look at the scientific aspects along with the spiritual elements.

While Geiger never says, I suspect that he comes down on the side of the spiritual aspect. At the end of several of the `laboratory' discussions, he pointed out the flaws and natural short-comings of their investigation. While many were going through extreme physical distress, this does not explain the mass experiences and sightings nor does it explain the vast differences in many of the stress factor situations - i.e., Oxygen deprivation vs sea level events.

The blending of anecdotes and science is never achieved in a smooth fashion. They are of two vastly different worlds. Whether you want to call the phenomenon Guardian Angels or hallucinations will depend on your own personal view of the world. Regardless, this book is a very exciting read and will make you thankful that you are in a warm house with a glass of tea.

I would recommend this book to anyone that is drawn to mountaineering, survival skills or wishes to explore the divine side of life.

I would also recommend:
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