Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why – a book review

// April 2nd, 2012 // Book Reviews

Suggested by a few friends, I recently read a best-seller called Deep Survival a book on what it takes to be a survivor.  Well researched and well written Luarence Gonzales does a great job of giving the reader stories and practical advice on surviving life’s most difficult situations, hardships, problems, pains or whatever you might prefer to call them – hard times that require a lot of an individual or group.  Deep Survival gets into some very “heady” psychology which at times I breezed over because I was really looking for the practical aspects of survival that I knew were in this book.  I thought that should I find myself in need, I would not be reflecting on the anatomy of my brain to get me through a situation.  Would I recommend this book?  Yes, especially if you have never had to employ a survivor mentality in your life.  I would also recommend this book to those who are leaders as well as to those who teach outdoor skills or lead trips into the wilderness.  Not a handbook by any means, this book does offer big picture advice with very diverse application.  If I were to sum it up this book said to me (and these are my own words):

If you are going to do something “stupid” be smart about it.

By that I mean, if you are going climbing for example, play by the rules.  Tell others where you are going, climb with an experienced partner, bring the proper gear, build up your experience before taking on big routes etc.  You get the picture.

As far as what the book tells us, all of his stories, research and advice come together in summary to offer this practical help:


Perceive, Believe, then Act
Avoid impulsive behavior dont hurry
Know your stuff
Get the Information
Commune with the dead – that is to say know how people die doing what it is you are about to do.
Be humble
When in Doubt bail out – (Keep a PMA positive mental attitude) – dont blame others
Stay calm, maintain a sense of humor
Think, analyze, Plan
Take correct decisive action
Celebrate success
Count your blessings
Play, sing, count – occupy the mind
See the beauty around you
Believe you will succeed
Surrender the fear not to fear
Do whatever is necessary

I have employed all of those tips wether it be changing diapers, or responding to multi-party life-threatening injuries on the side of a mountain and found that in my experience Gonzales is right on.  Staying calm, cool and collected while engaging one’s brain is the key to survival.  Though this book is very secular in nature he did briefly touch on the fact that those who have a high degree of faith tend to have a higher survival rate.  Speaking personally here I have to say that faith in God, his plan, and divine purpose must not be overlooked.  I have no other explanation for the fact that the authors own Grandfather fell from 30,000 feet in the sky in a shot up, torn apart bomber that killed the entire crew except him.  No survivor training will help in this case.  Call it luck, divine intervention, a miracle or whatever you like, but this tells me of a plan the Lord has for all of us that goes beyond our own survival or understanding.



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