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The Disaster Diaries: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Apocalypse Hardcover – January 24, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 158 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Although this would make a great title for a postapocalyptic novel, Sheridan’s book is actually a nonfiction guide to preparing yourself for natural disasters and other catastrophes. The author, a Harvard grad who’s been an EMT, a merchant marine, and a boxer—among many other adventurous endeavors—takes us step by step through the process, beginning with the fundamentals: getting physically fit and learning how to handle stress. From there we move, in logical sequence, to more intricate tasks: preparing an emergency disaster kit, learning to protect ourselves in the event of violent encounters (hand-to-hand combat training; learning how to fire a gun), acquiring basic medical skills, planning a strategy to get out of the disaster area, and so on. But this is no mere guide to surviving disaster; it’s also the author’s personal account of learning to prepare for catastrophe. Sheridan doesn’t merely recommend; he shows by example, describing his own experiences while taking the Wilderness EMT program. A clever and very useful guide to getting ready to face the unknown. --David Pitt

Review

"The Disaster Diaries is a fascinating book… Reading how Sheridan progresses through his own training further reminds me just how much our civilization hangs by a thread and just what would be expected of me to protect my own family."
Wired

"Though it's a work of nonfiction, The Disaster Diaries explores every catastrophic disaster, from floods and earthquakes to sci-fi scenarios like zombie infections and escaping giant alien monsters, and asks experts around the world exactly what preparations are needed. Sheridan uncovers survival skills (first aid, hunting in the wilderness, firing a gun) as well as some craftier tricks (hot-wiring a car, constructing an igloo). But The Disaster Diaries isn't instructional. The apocalypse schemes serve as a lens that allows Sheridan to explore the limits of the human body and psyche and how physical and mental strength are inexplicably linked... at least when the apocalypse does arrive, I can take comfort that Sam Sheridan will survive, to continue the existence of the human race and smartly researched nonfiction books."
—Grantland

"Sheridan understands exactly what he is doing. He is giving readers a fantasy ride… And clearly, he enjoys the ride himself, savoring every moment, both physically and intellectually… Postapocalyptic heroism, in the hands of Sam Sheridan, is just plain fun."
San Francisco Chronicle

"Sheridan ain't no slacker… [He] is a writer first, second and third. Despite being a man willing to learn the intricacies of bodybuilding and accept his role in protecting his family, it's Sheridan's voice that sets his book apart from the usual survival fluff… can appeal to the Everyman and the intellectual all at once."
—Breitbart.com

"Sheridan is a charming storyteller, and his prose is both thoughtful and playful... An upbeat and entertaining survival guide for the end of the world."
Kirkus (starred review)

"Although this would make a great title for a postapocalyptic novel, Sheridan's book is actually a nonfiction guide to preparing yourself for natural disasters and other catastrophes. The author, a Harvard grad who's been an EMT, a merchant marine, and a boxer—among many other adventurous endeavors—takes us step by step through the process, beginning with the fundamentals: getting physically fit and learning how to handle stress. From there we move, in logical sequence, to more intricate tasks: preparing an emergency disaster kit, learning to protect ourselves in the event of violent encounters (hand-to-hand combat training; learning how to fire a gun), acquiring basic medical skills, planning a strategy to get out of the disaster area, and so on. But this is no mere guide to surviving disaster; it's also the author's personal account of learning to prepare for catastrophe. Sheridan doesn't merely recommend; he shows by example, describing his own experiences while taking the Wilderness EMT program. A clever and very useful guide to getting ready to face the unknown."
Booklist

"With a funky sense of humor blended with straight-faced common sense, [Sheridan] not only addresses the long-term psychological trauma of disaster but adds the importance of learning basic first-aid techniques, firearms training, knife skills, hunting and living in the wild, and expertise behind the wheel for a real world escape and survival. As a quirky survivalist primer, Sheridan's work spells out how to stay alive when the world goes topsy-turvy."
Publishers Weekly

"Sam Sheridan seems to have a tough time sleeping—and we are all the better for it. He has taken his recurring nightmares about a zombie apocalypse in L.A.—rendered in grippingly real, heart-pounding scenes of narrow escape throughout—and turned them into inspiration for a real-life end-of-the-world practical survival guide, as he seeks out expert instruction in knife fighting, gun battle, hot-wiring a car, making an igloo, caring for the sick in a world without hospitals. The Disaster Diaries is the book you want in your basement with the batteries and water, a must-have if the world outside ever starts to look like The Road."
—Kevin Conley, author of Stud: Adventures in Breeding and Full Burn: On the Set, at the Bar, Behind the Wheel, and Over the Edge with Hollywood Stuntmen

"Framed by far-out fictional vignettes like zombie infestation and alien invasions, The Disaster Diaries traces a real-world escape path, exploring survival skills from stunt driving a car out of harm's way to dealing with long-term psychological trauma. Sheridan's matter-of-fact tone is informational and gripping, and he never descends into a paranoid, 'us or them' tone. Ultimately, learning to live through an apocalypse is about learning to be a human being; it takes an appetite for knowledge, the ability to cooperate, and most of all, adaptability. Anyone who thinks humankind is getting soft should read this book—no matter what happens, it's clear that some of us will survive."
—Daniel Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Amped, Robopocalypse, and How to Survive a Robot Uprising
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press (January 24, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594205272
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594205279
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #362,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In "The Disaster Diaries", author Sam Sheridan uses a series of fictional disasters as the connecting thread to weave together his exploration of the skills that might be needed to survive a world in chaos. Sheridan writes in a style reminiscent of Curt Gentry's book Last Days of the Late, Great State of California. Where Gentry used a catastrophic earthquake to look at California's politics, economy and history, Sheridan uses an earthquake as a jumping off point for a ongoing series of disasters and to find out what skills might be needed to live in a post-apocalyptic world.

He begins with The Big One, a quake that devastates Southern California -- something that may happen in our lifetimes. What should a family do? Make sure their house is earthquake safe, have food and water for 30 days and have a "go bag" filled with essentials. OK so far. But what do you do when the zombies show up???? This is where the book becomes fun.

Sheridan is faced with a series of survival situations that just keep getting worse. Earthquake, followed by zombies (how is it you can kill the undead by shooting them?), followed by marauding gangs, an alien invasion, cannibals and then a new ice age. Sheridan uses his doomsday story as an opportunity to build survival skills. He starts with fitness & strength training (he almost had me on the phone to join a local health club) and then looks at learning how to shoot, wilderness medicine, cars (stealing them & driving them aggressively), learning how to live off the land, desert survival, knife fighting, hunting, and arctic survival. He also looks at dealing with mental strain.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's obvious from the subtitle of the book with its Dr. Strangelove reference ("How I learned to stop worrying and love the apocalypse") that this is not your run-of-the-mill survival book. "The disaster diaries" is an informative yet entertaining entry in the increasingly crowded post-apocalyptic/survivalist/prepper genre. Less dry and boring than the typical survival tome, this book intersperses chapters on such topics as firearms training; car-jacking and evasive driving; and emergency medicine with a set of vignettes in which the author imagines himself trying to protect his wife and baby through a series of post-apocalyptic scenarios, including earthquakes, disease, zombies, and space aliens. The result is something rather less encyclopedic than the usual survival manual, but infinitely more entertaining.

And the point of the book, as I see it, is less to serve as an instruction manual full of specifics but rather to argue the rationale and philosophy behind preparation. Sheridan was not a slouch to begin with; he is a mixed martial arts fighter, EMT, and wilderness firefighter. But once he became a father he realized what every parent realizes: That being completely responsible for the safety of one's child is a scary and demanding responsibility. And being responsible means being prepared not just for everyday life but for emergencies that can happen. As Sheridan remarks, "Just because life is comically good for us in the United States, that doesn't mean it always will be."

The hard-core survivalist would probably be disappointed in this book, but that speaks well of it, in my opinion.
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I am a fan of Sam Sheridan's work. His desire to travel and meet new people has made each of his books interesting and unforgettable. He's kind of a crazy guy who is not afraid to put himself in precarious situations in order to investigate or experience that which fascinates him. The end result in "The disaster Diaries" is a well informed, meticulously researched "page turner" that has somehow made me a better person and a further educated member of the population.
This is a fun book to read.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sam Sheridan's "The Disaster Diaries: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Apocalypse" is a not-entirely-successful mix of biography, travelogue, and science writing. Sheridan tells readers that he has been suffering from repeated nightmares about a variety of apocalyptic events, from earthquakes to severe weather to zombies, that potentially threaten himself and his young family. To overcome his fears through preparation for the worst, Sheridan embarks on a program of survivalist education that includes learning how to hunt and track, how to perform wilderness field medicine, and how to drive under extreme conditions.

THE GOOD: Sheridan writes plainly and clearly. His experiences as he attempts to prepare himself for a range of really bad scenarios are exotic and intriguing. Many of the characters he encounters are colorful and have unexpected insights to offer regarding their little slice of the world. His writing on the science of survival is accessible without being badly distorted. I particularly liked the myth-busting he does in the final chapter, showing how doomsday scenarios of people clawing each other to death in the face of disaster is strongly contradicted by the well-documented reality: people generally behave with civility and compassion when they find themselves collectively facing the Big Bad.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD: Sheridan uses his nightmares as a thread to hold the book together. We've all seen those disaster movies, so we don't need his accounts of dream zombies eating dream children.
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