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That Others May Live: The True Story of the PJs, the Real Life Heroes of the Perfect Storm Paperback – January 30, 2001

3.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Pararescue jumpers, or PJs, are the military's most elite force, a highly trained group of men serving in the Air Force and the National Guard. In battle, they fly behind enemy lines to rescue downed pilots. In peacetime, PJs stay sharp with daring civilian rescues, recovering victims from scorching deserts, treacherous mountaintops, raging seas, and natural disasters. Their almost unimaginable courage first came to the public's attention in Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm, with that book's riveting account of how a helicopter of PJs plunged into the Atlantic during a tragic rescue attempt. Senior Master Sergeant Jack Brehm was the PJ supervisor coordinating their dramatic efforts that night.

That Others May Live not only sheds new light on that rescue, it also tells the thrilling story of Jack Brehm's devotion to the PJs, a career choice that transformed him from an aimless kid to an on-call hero. Jack's vivid account reveals not only the dangerous rescues and relentless training he and his fellow PJs endure, but the emotional struggles as well: losing friends, waiting anxiously to be called into action, and trying to keep their families together despite the enormous life-and-death pressures of the job. This book is a compelling and deeply personal story of one man's "ordinary" heroism that is, in reality, extraordinary.

From the Back Cover

"An exciting book, a real page-turner."        
-- Tracy Kidder, author of Home Town and The Soul of a New Machine

"That Others May Live is not just a great adventure story. Reading about the exploits of the military's elite pararescue jumpers, you can feel deeply the ache of decency, patriotism, service, and honor -- the profound desire to make the world better that shapes the American mythology of altruism."        
-- Bob Shacochis, author of The Immaculate Invasion
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (January 30, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609806769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609806760
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #938,332 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By BEHR on December 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
An easy-flowing book to read from start to finish; however, I wish there was more on the pipeline training. For those who expected more on the PJ's lifestyle, I recommend the video, "Pararescuemen - That Others May Live".
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Format: Paperback
I thought this was a good book. Obviously that guy Frank who rated it has some serious issues about pararescue jumpers, maybe he washed out of the course and is a little bitter? Don't be mad frank, it's an 80% wash out rate. The book focuses on Jack Brehm, because he is the author, and can only tell the stories from his perspectives. Granted it's kind of slow, but this isn't a Science Fiction book, it's a Military History book, so it's not going to read like a Star Wars book. I work around and with these guys, and they are heroes and I think frank might change his mind if he ever had to be rescued by one.
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Format: Paperback
It is rare that one reads a true account that has moments of gripping excitement and touching personal moments, that provides a clear picture of the little-known world of the PJ's, and does it all while reading like a thriller. Their adventures while in the act of saving lives are as exciting as any adventure/thriller's hero's exploits...and in the PJ world, people can be seriously injured or killed. I read THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE after reading THE PERFECT STORM, the incredible account of how a helicopter of PJ's plunged into the sea during a tragic rescue attempt. The author of THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE was the PJ supervisor coordinating the rescue attempt. This book provides the background and the human side of the drama to answer the many questions that arise after reading or seeing the movie, THE PERFECT STORM. It's difficult to understand how anyone can maintain the discipline, athletic abilities, and commitment that are needed to remain a PJ for 20 years but Jack Brehm's life story proves it can be done - and those whose lives he touched are the better for it.
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Format: Paperback
On the whole, I thought this was an excellent view into the lives and mindset of PJs, as well as their families--and let's face it, family is important. Stress destroys relationships, and there's enough stress in this job for a dozen ordinary people.
Some of the more gut-wrenching moments include descriptions of rescues where the weather won't allow an air pickup, so a PJ jumps into the sea with the hope of being able to keep himself and the victims alive until the weather breaks. Not a job for cowards.
Some parts are a tad slow, but then, this is one of those jobs that consists of months of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror. It's an essential element, and I didn't find it to detract from the read.
My only complaint is that it seemed rushed into production and some technical errors slipped in. An F-15 rarely seats two people, never side by side, and doesn't have an "escape pod." That sounds somewhat like an F-111, and if the rescue was off the coast of Britain in the 1980s, a likely actuality. Obviously, Jack Brehm didn't make that mistake in print; it was probably an editor shuffling things around. Likewise, some of the parachuting technicals mentioned don't match my jump experience.
But then, this isn't a textbook for students, it's a view into the mind and lives of the men who risk death to save others, amidst the families, organizations and rivalry and the occasional mockery of wannabes. Well worth the read.
As to "The Perfect Storm" reference, there has to be some way to relate the content to a casual reader who would otherwise think of "Pajamas" when hearing "PJ."
It's "Pararescue Jumper," and they and the pilots and the Coasties are all on the same team.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book in tandem with Michael Hirsh's None Braver. In truth, I preferred the latter, however that opinion lies mostly in differing expectations. I had anticipated a more in-depth account of PJ training and missions. While this book contains a fair amount of that, Brehm and his co-author use it mostly to lace together what is more aptly described as an auto-biography. You are looking at mostly the personal aspect of the job: family life, stress, emotions, tough decisions, etc. Not nearly as gripping or action-packed, if you will. The disappointment notwithstanding, I found it enjoyable and a decent read, with just enough "adventure" to pull me in. If you are more interested in the technical aspects or more detail about combat missions and life during a war (Brehm served mostly in the U.S.), I advise Hirsh's book. However, Brehm's heart-felt stories are still worth a look. It's just another side of the coin - the rest of the story, so to speak.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book arrived well before the anticipated delivery day/date and it was in really good condition - I am in the midst of reading it right now!!! Thank you for the excellent service - it is much appreciated!!! MJ
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Format: Paperback
This book gives the reader some very up front information about the USAF PJ's --- in my opinion the best of all the U.S. "spec-ops" forces. The PJ's are unseen and unsung -- the SEALS are getting all the attention lately, but, after reading this book I've concluded that if I was in a dangerous situation and I had my pick of a Spec-Ops troop to accompany me there is no doubt I would choose a USAF PJ ---- they are the most diverse mission capable men in the US military. I found SMSgt Brehm's information about jumping and SCUBA to be most enlightening especially his description of "rapture of the deep". His story about 1991's "the Perfect Storm" and the aftermath was quite compelling. Especially the very difficult decisions that had to be made regarding the search for PJ Smith and the subsequent blame that was unfairly placed on Brehm by other PJ's after the operation was concluded. Brehm's emphasis on the importance of family is commendable but in my opinion the book would have been better without long passages about the trials and tribulations of maintaining a family life while also holding down a dangerous and demanding profession such as being a PJ. This is an excellent bio about a very dedicated man who "lives the motto" and would make an excellent motion picture.
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