“What? The end? Already?” – that was my reaction when I ran into page 232 of .“The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why” by Amanda Ripley I started reading it only two days ago, and could not stop – on the subway, on the train, and during breakfast.
Ms Ripley created a great book that explores human reaction to disasters and high-stress situations. She has done extensive research in the topic and provided a number of examples ranging from Halifax Explosion to 9/11 and Katrina to Holy Ground Stampede illustrating how we, as humans, behave and what we can do psychologically to stand a better chance if we find ourselves in a high-stress situation. She mentions that this is not a book on how to pack an emergency kit, but how to prepare yourself mentally. The book is very well written, read easily and provides vivid examples.
Some of the topics covered: Fear, Heroism, Stages one goes through in disaster. Post-9/11 security theater also got a few well-deserved jabs. One of important secondary points is how we (mis)evaluate risk and assign higher probabilities to events that in reality are not very likely to occur and what happens as a result. Another book on this topic that I highly recommend is “Beyond Fear” by Bruce Schneier
From Ms. Ripley’s blog, I found out that she is currently working on a book on another topic that interests me greatly – American educational system as compared to other countries. Ms. Ripley certainly has one buyer signed up now. 😉
Overall The Unthinkable is most definitely a highly recommended book!