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The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster…
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The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Amanda Ripley (Author)

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6232526,804 (3.98)1 / 32
Nine out of ten Americans live in places at significant risk of earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorism, or other disasters. Tomorrow, some of us will have to make split-second choices to save ourselves and our families. How will we react? What will it feel like? Will we be heroes or victims? Will our upbringing, our gender, our personality--anything we've ever learned, thought, or dreamed of--ultimately matter? Journalist Amanda Ripley set out to discover what lies beyond fear and speculation, retracing the human response to some of history's epic disasters. She comes back with wisdom about the surprising humanity of crowds, the elegance of the brain's fear circuits, and the stunning inadequacy of many of our evolutionary responses. Most unexpectedly, she discovers the brain's ability to do much, much better, with just a little help.--From publisher description.… (more)
Member:dttocs
Title:The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why
Authors:Amanda Ripley (Author)
Info:Crown Archetype (2008), Edition: First Edition, 288 pages
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The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why by Amanda Ripley (2008)

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» See also 32 mentions

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When the boat begins to sink or the floor begins to shake, does anything beyond random luck decide who lives and who doesn’t? Ripley tells the human story and the data story to engage the reader and help them be ready. Genetics and pre-conditioning certainly play a role, but there are also personal planning and formal training steps we can all take to be more prepared. The positive outcomes including improving our odds as well as making us less stressed before and especially after the moment of truth. ( )
  jpsnow | Aug 24, 2020 |
In 'The Unthinkable", journalist Amanda Ripley investigates a variety of disasters to determine how people react in a crisis, and ultimately tries to determine who survives and why. Ripley makes use of academic research and news articles, as well as interviews with survivors and scientists.

While the stories and studies were interesting, I found that the author didn't make her arguments very well - she doesn't connect her chapters and she doesn't tell us why people with the specific traits identified in the book survive (the points are scattered throughout the book). The material covered was also somewhat superficial. The book however does provide some interesting material on how better to be mentally prepared for a disaster, most of which is common sense, but there are still useful nuggets of information in the book.

This book is easy to read, informative and educational, but I wish it included more indepth material.

( )
  ElentarriLT | Mar 24, 2020 |
Really thorough, easy, non-graphic read about the psychology behind survival. There's some great tips in here for how to adjust your own thinking, and how to practice for the times that it really matters. I found her discussion of risk assessment to be spot-on, and wholly relevant. I'd absolutely recommend this to anyone. ( )
  laureenH | Aug 26, 2019 |
This was definitely an interesting read. The author interviewed numerous survivors of various disasters (school shootings, fires, plane crashes, boats sinking, the WTC bombing and 9/11, etc) in an effort to determine how people react to tragedies and how those reactions can help people survive.

The author states that each of us cycle through a survival arc: first is denial ("this can't be happening!") to deliberation ("I don't know what to do; what should I do?") to the decisive moment ("I am doing this."). Along the way, people do things that are puzzling (survivors often try to gather things to take with them, even when they should be fleeing for their lives) to troubling (punching people, taking someone's life jacket from them, etc) to difficult to understand (freezing in place even though you know you should be moving), and the author tries to explain these as maladaptive uses of evolutionary behaviour (freezing, for example, can help you against certain predators, but doesn't help you when you're in a burning building).

Altogether, I found this book to be an extremely interesting look at human behaviour in tragedies. Overwhelmingly, people seem to be polite and courteous, even if it puts them in danger. There isn't a lot when it comes to practical advice on survival (the author argues that much of our survival instinct is at least partially hardwired), but the author does recommend preparing for disasters you are likely to encounter in your area and drilling yourself frequently on what you would do in such a situation. People who had a plan in place seemed to fare much better than those who did not. ( )
1 vote schatzi | Jan 5, 2019 |
An extremely interesting read that delves into the human psyche. If you have ever wondered how you may react in a life or death situation, this book covers your possible responses. It gives an in depth study into scenarios with true to life accounts from people who have survived situations that seemed impossible detailing their responses and emotions as situations unfolded. Well researched and put together, this book is easy to read and informative.

We are all just a little morbidly fascinated by horrific events and this book reveals perhaps the psychological workings of that and why we do what we do as a species under stress from an evolutionary and biological perspective. A wonderful read, hard to put down. ( )
  KatiaMDavis | Dec 19, 2017 |
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On the morning of December 6, 1917, a bright, windless day, a French freighter called the Mont Blanc began to slowly pull out of the Halifax harbor in Nova Scotia.
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Nine out of ten Americans live in places at significant risk of earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorism, or other disasters. Tomorrow, some of us will have to make split-second choices to save ourselves and our families. How will we react? What will it feel like? Will we be heroes or victims? Will our upbringing, our gender, our personality--anything we've ever learned, thought, or dreamed of--ultimately matter? Journalist Amanda Ripley set out to discover what lies beyond fear and speculation, retracing the human response to some of history's epic disasters. She comes back with wisdom about the surprising humanity of crowds, the elegance of the brain's fear circuits, and the stunning inadequacy of many of our evolutionary responses. Most unexpectedly, she discovers the brain's ability to do much, much better, with just a little help.--From publisher description.

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