- Paperback: 655 pages
- Publisher: Gavin de Becker Center for the Study and Reduction of Violence; First edition (July 1, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0615214479
- ISBN-13: 978-0615214474
- Package Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #204,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Just 2 Seconds Paperback – July 1, 2008
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A Q&A with Gavin de Becker
Gavin de Becker : Your question contains much of the answer: today’s world, "where terror and tragedy seem omnipresent..." The key word is "seem." When TV news coverage presents so much on these topics, it elevates the perception of terrorism and tragedy way beyond the reality. In every major city, TV news creates forty hours of original production every day, most of it composed and presented to get our attention with fear. Hence an incident on an airplane in which a man fails to do any damage is treated as if the make-shift bomb actually exploded. It didn’t. Imagine having a near miss in your car, avoiding what would have been a serious collision--and then talking about every hour for months after the fact. Welcome to TV news.
To the second part of your question, No, the world is not a more violent place than it has ever been, however we live as if it were. The U.S. is the most powerful nation in world history--and also the most afraid.
Question: You were just on the Oprah show discussing spousal homicide--can you talk about the show, and whether spousal homicide is a growing epidemic?
Gavin de Becker: Through two shows Oprah dedicated to the topic, we’re conveying a great deal of new information, and most of all, Oprah’s announcement that a MOSAIC assessment system developed by my firm will be made available to any person who wants to use it, at no cost, via her website. This will allow anyone to diagnose a relationship to determine if it has the combination of factors most associated with escalated violence, and spousal homicide. Is spousal homicide increasing? It is not; however, the reality is more disturbing than an increase: Spousal homicide has remained a constant in our lives, such that every four hours at least one woman is killed in America by a husband or boyfriend. That uninterrupted and sad statistic can be interrupted and changed--because as explored in The Gift of Fear, spousal homicide is the single most preventable serious crime in America--largely owing to that fact that it always occurs after many warning signs, and after several people are aware of the risk.
Question: Your bestselling book The Gift of Fear gives many examples to help readers recognize what you call pre-incident indicators (PINS) of violence. What role does intuition play in recognizing these signals?
Gavin de Becker: Like every creature on earth, we have an extraordinary defense resource: We don’t have the sharpest claws and strongest jaws--but we do have the biggest brains, and intuition is the most impressive process of these brains. It might be hard to accept its importance because intuition is often described as emotional, unreasonable, or inexplicable. Husbands chide their wives about "feminine intuition" and don’t take it seriously. If intuition is used by a woman to explain some choice she made or a concern she can’t let go of, men roll their eyes and write it off. We much prefer logic, the grounded, explainable, unemotional thought process that ends in a supportable conclusion. In fact, Americans worship logic, even when it’s wrong, and deny intuition, even when it’s right. Men, of course, have their own version of intuition, not so light and inconsequential, they tell themselves, as that feminine stuff. Theirs is more viscerally named a "gut feeling," but whatever name we use, it isn’t just a feeling. It is a process more extraordinary and ultimately more logical in the natural order than the most fantastic computer calculation. It is our most complex cognitive process and, at the same time, the simplest.
Intuition connects us to the natural world and to our nature. It carries us to predictions we will later marvel at. "Somehow I knew," we will say about the chance meeting we predicted, or about the unexpected phone call from a distant friend, or the unlikely turnaround in someone’s behavior, or about the violence we steered clear of, or, too often, the violence we elected not to steer clear of. The Gift of Fear offers strategies that help us recognize the signals of intuition--and helps us avoid denial, which is the enemy of safety.
Question: Your latest book, Just 2 Seconds, has been called a "masterpiece" of analysis on the art of preventing assassination. It contains an entire compendium of attacks on protected persons across the globe. What motivated you to put together such a definitive reference? What tenets can be applied to one’s everyday life?
Gavin de Becker: Most of all, we wrote the book we needed. My co-authors and I had long looked for an extensive collection of attack summaries from which important new insights could be harvested. Unable to find it, we committed to do the work ourselves, eventually collecting more than 1400 cases to analyze. Many new insights and concepts emerged from the study, and the one most applicable to day to day life, even for people who are not living with unusual risks, is to be in the present; pre-sent, as it were. Now is the only time anything ever happens--now is where the action is. All focus on anything outside the Now (the past, memory, the future, fantasy) detracts focus from what’s actually happening in your environment. Human being have the capacity to look right at something and not see it, and in studying such a crisp event--the few seconds during which assassinations have occurred--Just 2 Seconds aims to enhance the reader’s ability to see the value of the present moment.
(Photo © Avery Helm)
"A profound work of practical scholarship offers no less than a sure opportunity to interdict horrible violence at its source." --James Ellroy, Bestselling Author L.A. Confidential and The Black Dahlia
"JUST 2 SECONDS is a compelling must-read book for those who understand the world we live in, and choose not to fear it, but to survive it. A masterful work." --Patricia Cornwell, Bestselling Author, Kay Scarpetta series
"JUST 2 SECONDS is the definitive reference for protectors, authoritative and thorough, riveting and powerful. By giving so many new protective strategies, JUST 2 SECONDS also gives us great cause for hope - hope for survival of those whom the assassin would slay." --Col Dave Grossman, Author, On Combat and On Killing
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Top Customer Reviews
The rest of the book is filled with many detailed examples of many past situations. Hundreds of encounters and attempted encounters are explained and discussed. This is very useful to someone who does this for a living, and is a interesting read from a analytical and historical stand point, but not so much use to any body else.
The last group of pages are examples of letters and white pages that are generally given to protectees.
Over all what you will get out of this book depends on what you need. If you need a great well written collection of hundreds of past events that has happened in the world than this is a great book. If you are more interested in the actual process, or at least what happens within a very important 2 seconds of a physical encounter of a assassination like attempt. Than you might only enjoy the first 1/4 of this book. This one is a very much a try before you buy type of book.
It had interesting things to say about how bodyguards do their job, what they should be looking for when they are "on"; and what factors may affect their ability to look after their 'protectee' . There is extra info in the last couple chapters. BUT The bulk at the middle of the book is a compendium of very dry case studies, of interest only if you already understand the subject on a higher level.
Still, it was an interesting read, even for a casual reader, and I'm sure it would be very informative for someone on the job, or for a protectee or an organizer of events that may included people in need of protection.
This book dispels the myth that "it can't happen here", and "it can't happen to me or someone I know" and makes one realize that it can, and in fact, in might just happen "here" and to "me". I myself have fallen prey to this myth, even though my own training and experience have taught me otherwise. My point is that anyone, ANYONE can be a target for many reasons.
There are several thousand incidents documented by de Becker , and make you understand the whole in which he makes his living (the world in which we live). I consider the Gift of Fear to be a foundational work--it should be read by everyone--but most especially by women. Starting at the age of about 10, if not sooner (under parental supervision). Yes, really. Mr. de Becker has another book along those lines ("Protecting the Gift") , written specifically on that subject.
This man is the expert. He and his staff set the standards in this area. It's foolish in my opinion NOT to read what he says; and ACT on it.
I got the Kindle version of this book because of the fantastic discount; there are updates provided in a link in the book; I'm looking for that link right now because I would like the updates.
This book is worth the read; worth the money; it's a staple in my reference library.
However, it's also a Zen book, and one of the best of the many I have read. For that reason, it's not just for bodyguards. Some of the best Zen books involve weapons and fighting, like Herrigel's Zen in the Art of Archery. Nevertheless, an older woman such as myself can get a great deal from this book. Be a predator, not prey. A predator fights back better. Stay in the Now by observing closely whatever novelty can be perceived, and then letting it go and watch for the next one. (Specific techniques for staying Now are hard to come by even in Zen.)
Using Gavin de Becker's techniques, I observed people for a few days in the ways he suggests. I saw a woman in a restaurant betraying anxiety I would not have noticed before; eventually a man came from the restroom and sat down near her, but at the next table so he could take out his smartphone and text with it. Perhaps his distancing was why she was anxious; but best not to judge or ponder that; just keep observing. I saw a droopy male hiker on the road with a backpack --- who had a large yellow helmet covering his whole head, inexplicably! These were all events well worth noticing, but normally I would filter them out in favor of thinking, thinking.
This is actually a very rich Zen book. I took many notes. I am using its techniques. It's not only for bodyguards.