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Last Breath: Cautionary Tales from the…

Last Breath: Cautionary Tales from the Limits of Human Endurance (2001)

by Peter Stark

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    Surviving the Extremes: What Happens to the Body and Mind at the Limits of Human Endurance by Kenneth Kamler (cmbohn)
    cmbohn: Much better exploration of the same themes, told with actual cases instead of hypothetical ones.

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excellent book
  Mikenielson | Jul 24, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345441508, Hardcover)

Prepare to have some of your greatest fears laid bare in this collection of riveting, and often terrifying, "cautionary tales from the limits of human endurance." Based on interviews with accident survivors and the medical specialists who treat them, veteran outdoor writer Peter Stark offers mostly fictitious accounts (there is one based on a true historical incident) of people caught in life-threatening situations. In Last Breath, he thoroughly explores what happens to the human body and mind during drowning, a long fall, burial beneath an avalanche, hypothermia, dehydration, mountain sickness, the bends, malaria, scurvy, hyperthermia, and contact with a poisonous jellyfish. Stark packs enough historic and scientific information and page-turning suspense into each chapter to make them all fascinating and useful. And he answers some perplexing questions in the process, such as why those suffering from acute hypothermia often rip off their clothing in an effort to save themselves.

No, Stark does not have some unresolved death wish--he readily admits that he fears death. But he also understands that the fine line between life and death actually entices outdoor adventurers to risk everything for the chance to explore their own physical and mental limits. In fact, it is exactly this close proximity to death that makes the experience come alive for certain individuals with the overriding desire "to strip away the superfluous, to remove the protective boundaries between that thing you call a self and something larger." These are the stories of those who crossed the line. --Shawn Carkonen

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:32 -0400)

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"Combining the adrenaline high of extreme sports with the startling facts of physiological reality, Stark narrates a series of outdoor adventure stories in which thrill can cross the line to mortal peril. Each death or brush with death is at once a suspense story, a cautionary tale, and a medical thriller. Will they survive, or will they succumb? Stark describes in unforgettable detail exactly what goes through the mind of a cross-country skier as his body temperature plummets - apathy at ninety-one degrees, stupor at ninety. He puts us inside the body of a doomed kayaker tumbling helplessly underwater for two minutes, five minutes, ten minutes. He conjures up the physiology of a snowboarder frantically trying not to panic as he consumes the tiny pocket of air trapped around his face under thousands of pounds of snow."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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