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Monday, January 30, 2012

One of the Essential Books I Bet You’ve Never Read


            No, I’m not talking about “The Ethical Slut,” or “The Myth of Monogamy,” both fine books, I’m sure, and both available from Amazon.  Take care of all those details yourselves and let’s get serious for a sec.  “Deep Survival, Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why,” by Laurence Gonzales is much more important to me and everyone else who desires a fightin’ chance.
            But, you say, I do not go deep in the woods, oh no, no, no.  I do not do the crazy things my friend Grunt does, like take flying leaps from airplanes, or my friend Eman does, such as climbing on the sides of terribly high cliffs in god-only-knows-which-backwater country. 
            You’re thinking, I only visit shopping centers, take a few commercial plane rides, do a little skiing.  One of the most poignant stories in the book begins with two teenage girls at a shopping center, who go for a nearby nature walk, without really knowing the nature of the walk.  Nope.  Not what you think.  No molesters or killers lurking.  Just the girls and Mother Nature, whom you soon find out, is about as forgiving as the wicked witch of the west with PMS.
            Or maybe you’re thinking, ah a book about how to build signaling blazes, roast tadpoles, splint limbs, or get water from dead leaves.  Deep Survival is not that kind of book.  Gonzales has been studying accidents and human behavior for decades.  Deep Survival is about what he has discovered, but most of all it’s about how what he has discovered can help you in the darkest of hours and the bleakest of circumstances.
            He doesn’t preach or list rules.  He weaves a web of stories.  There’s the kid in a plane crash who is the only human to make it home alive, and the skier who just does what he always does, and suddenly experiences vastly different results.  Nope.  Didn’t hit a tree and he was on a course he’d skied many times.
            The best part of the book is that, in addition to choices for survival, the author provides a rough blueprint for how to stay alive, period.  All of it told by a master storyteller.  You race through pages at novel reading speed, then reflect and go back to reread.
            Gonzales describes civilization as a bubble of sanity, replete with rules we understand and live by.  Inside the bubble, except for the occasional catastrophic event, nature is mostly contained and controlled.  Outside the bubble, there are no rules and often the bubble ends where we least expect it.
            All is not lost, however.  There are things you can do to protect yourself from getting in a survival situation to begin with.  But, if you find yourself as alone as a star in the heavens and as scared as the icy pee in your socks, you can help yourself and your family.
            If you decide to read this book, available on Amazon, I can guarantee two things:  You’re going to learn a lot, even if you’ve had a million years of survival training, and you’re going to be entertained with edge-of-the-seat excitement.

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