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The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals…
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The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence (edition 1999)

by Gavin de Becker

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,466265,094 (4.03)18
CharlesBoyd's review
This book might be one of the greatest gifts you can give to the loved ones in your life, especially the women. ( )
  CharlesBoyd | Apr 25, 2012 |
All member reviews
Showing 1-25 of 26 (next | show all)
A must read book not just for women, but for anybody who doesn't want to be stalked or harassed. I think most women have encountered overly persistent suitors at some point.

While it has great pointers, the weakness of the book is that it is primarily prevention methods. I don't think it'll help when some violent person is hellbent on hurting you or your family members. Yes, a restraining order is just a piece of paper, but what can you do when the psycho is already so emotionally invested when he ignores warnings from the police to stay away?
  arcadianshepherd | May 9, 2014 |
The overall message to listen to your intuition is good, but de Becker's ideas about domestic violence are so wrong-headed as to be dangerous, perpetuating the idea that victims deserve their treatment. ( )
  iliadawry | Feb 6, 2014 |
The chapters that related to everyday advice were useful, especially the last chapter, and there were several points where the author articulated something I subconsciously knew but had never consciously considered. Some of the anecdotes and stories were also very interesting, and for the most part the book felt educational and genuinely useful.

A substantial amount of content, however, focused on celebrities and celebrity lifestyles, and was big on anecdotes and short on actual advice. The author also constantly touted his security company, which after a while started to grate. I'm sure his company does great work, but in a book that's advertised as a way to empower people into taking their security into their own hands, it seems out of place. There's also a risk of confirmation bias in the stories the author tells, and I'm hesitant to take his word as 100% true--especially when certain parts of the book openly contradict each other, like when he pigeonholes certain traits as risk factors for violence while at the same time saying that people should trust their intuition above any arbitrary list of risk factors.

All things considered, this book is a good reference for those interested in personal safety, but I recommend reading it for general advice rather than as a how-to manual for safety. ( )
  Featherwick | May 8, 2013 |
A staggering read. Vital for anyone raising children, or whose work regularly brings them in contact with 'the public '. A lot of this is things we all know instinctively, but it is unbelievably useful to see it all pulled together and analysed by a professional with unquestionable resources at his disposal. If you have ever been a victim of unwanted attention or a violent attack you will be amazed to see that it did not 'suddenly come out of nowhere'. Nothing is random. But ultimately, we are all much safer than we might think. The ultimate lesson is: Don't give in to fear, harness it. ( )
  Melanielgarrett | Apr 2, 2013 |
I want every woman I know to read this book, and it wouldn't hurt the men in my life to read it as well. Gavin de Becker has taught me to distinguish between the worry I put myself through and the fear that is worthy of my attention. I had an interesting intersection with this book and *Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames* by Thich Nhat Hanh, which I was reading at the same time. They are both, at their core, about the same thing: getting through the misperceptions down to real emotions. Each presented a different path, but reading both together has been an amazing experience. ( )
  Jessica_Olin | Apr 1, 2013 |
Smart advice on avoiding dangerous people and situations. ( )
  AnnB2013 | Mar 16, 2013 |
If you live on the streets or alone a must read for staying alive. ( )
  dickms | Oct 19, 2012 |
I have mixed feelings on this book.

I'm an ardent feminist and my approach to rape and violence against women is to highlight the societal causes. Rather than admonishing women to protect themselves better, I think it's more constructive to explore how society creates rapists.

I think my biggest problem with this book is with the buzz surrounding it. It got passed around the women in my family, and I often see reviews declaring that every woman should read this book. Despite the fact that the book isn't entirely focused on advice for women, people take it as such. This exacerbates a rape culture wherein women are tasked with preventing crimes from happening against them.

On the other hand, de Becker's book doesn't actually read like one of those annoying "How not to get raped" email lists. He doesn't suggest restrictions on women's freedom. Indeed, he argues for the exact opposite. He criticizes the baseless fear that women often feel and encourages them to let it go.

While this, I feel, is a good message, I don't think it can be fully presented without an acknowledgement of the rape culture we exist in wherein if a woman doesn't take "proper precautions", she's thereafter blamed for anything that may happen to her. De Becker neglects to address this angle, which plays a large role in complicating matters.

Feminist literature focuses on how the world needs to shift to make things safer. This book - as well as other mainstream sources - focus on how the individual needs to change to be safer within the world. I feel both are necessary to a degree, but I prefer to think in terms of the former.

That all being said, it's a good book for what it purports to do, and there is a lot more in there than just advice for women. It delves into criminal psychology, stalkers, assassins, and child murderers. I have a fascination with these topics, so I found it quite compelling. A couple sections gave me pause, his chapter on domestic violence, in particular.

Still, this guy knows his stuff, and he provides plenty of examples to illustrate his points. It's not a bad book in that regard, and it's surely worth a read if you're interested in the subject matter.
( )
2 vote jaala | Oct 13, 2012 |
This book might be one of the greatest gifts you can give to the loved ones in your life, especially the women. ( )
  CharlesBoyd | Apr 25, 2012 |
This book is not just about intuitive fear. Gavin de Becker has a lot of insight into the motivations for many different kinds of violence. The Gift of Fear includes sections on domestic violence, stalking, overly persistent people, violent children, assassinations, threats, and workplace violence. It is a wonderful book that dispels the myth that we must always be on the lookout for potential violence. De Becker allows readers to free themselves from daily anxiety and instead, be more alert to when threats are actually present. ( )
1 vote echosaurus | Jan 6, 2012 |
This book was amazing. I read it when it first came out and it is a must read for any woman or man who wishes to be enlightened or for them to give to their lady friends.

This book teaches us to listen to our intuition ( or with men their 'gut') That many times before a crime happens , there are signals that tipp us off ,we just have to be open to them.

An easy read, very informative and a keeper. ( )
  mikomi6 | Aug 4, 2011 |
I recommend this book to anyone! I bought it when I was living alone in a scary part of town and it really helped me through some issues and worries. I loved the writing style, and there are many true stories that keep you very interested. ( )
  steffanyac | Mar 18, 2011 |
I heard about this book from a police officer who was doing a library program for me. He said it was a helpful book and I found it to be so. De Becker encourages readers to trust their instincts when faced with situations or people that cause a feeling of fear or concern. Among other things he offers tips on how to tel if a person is likely to become violent or pose a threat.

When finished with the book I felt informed. I'm now more aware of how much information I give out in conversations. I also find myself being more attuned to people's tone and body language. I highly recommend this interesting read. ( )
  librarian4Him02 | Nov 20, 2010 |
Put this at the top of your to-read list.

I know I don’t have much to say about this book. This is a short review, and my rating really says it all. Have you had a bad experience with a person who seemed just a little weird? Do you feel like people are being pushy, but they’re so nice it would be wrong to say no? Read this book.

http://reviewingwhatever.blogspot.com/2006/08/gift-of-fear.html ( )
  savethegreyhounds | Oct 31, 2010 |
An interesting read. The author argues that we try to overanalyse our intuition and we don't see the signals our bodies are trying to give us about dangerous people and situations. An interesting read, well worth a read and some thinking about. ( )
  wyvernfriend | Sep 15, 2010 |
Being a victim of a violent crime myself, I found this book to be amazingly accurate in how the author defines 'survival signs' and how we KNOW them but often choose to IGNORE them. That was true for me. Easy to read not too technical but yet backed with facts and case studies. Good book everyone should read. ( )
  justablondemoment | Apr 26, 2010 |
This book was recommended to me by a co-worker, in the knowledge that I like non-fiction books. I didn't really enjoy this book, sorry to say. I sort of lost interest in it only a few chapters in. I just couldn't get into it. I still gave it two stars though, because it is an informative book which provides useful information, even if it failed to really hold my attention. ( )
  drteeth | Mar 31, 2010 |
I probably read 100 pages of this book, and I was never really hooked. Time to give something else a go.
  annodoom | Oct 7, 2009 |
This is a must read book for anyone who lives among other people -- especially women. It teaches that fear is truly a gift, something to be used, paid attention to, but not surrendered to. The goal is not to scare you but to make you aware of yourself, your surroundings, your choices, and the effect these choices have. The goal of this book is to make you to teach you how to survive and maybe even prevent dangerous situations by making the right decisions. I have found the advice in here to be most helpful and empowering. It is one of the most loaned books in my library becouse of its common sense recommendations.
1 vote bgknighton | Jul 21, 2009 |
A must-read. ( )
  allnightlong | Apr 12, 2009 |
The author, who is a personal security expert, encourages reader to trust their instincts, especially fear, rather than following strict rules, such as never speak to strangers or always/never resist an attacker. There are many interesting stories and useful pieces of advice. I would recommend this book to other women.

One topic I wished the book had discussed was how to weight fear that might be caused by inaccurate stereotypes, such as the fear that all (or even many) Muslim men are terrorists. The book didn't say anything, though, about this or other racial/ethnic prejudices. ( )
1 vote espertus | May 1, 2008 |
a must read for every woman. ( )
  KarinKath | Mar 10, 2008 |
  Ealasaid | Jul 3, 2007 |
Required. ( )
  A.E.Rex | May 3, 2007 |
This is fantastic book, one which I would recommend to everyone. The author talks about crime, and ways to protect yourself, mostly by being aware and making yourself less of a visible target. It's sensible advice, rather than scare-tactics. I really believe that reading this book has made me less likely to be the victim of (at least certain types of) crimes. ( )
  herebedragons | Feb 10, 2007 |
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