T.M.'s Book Review: The Unthinkable
Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why
by Amanda Ripley Crown Publishers, New York, 2008.
266 pages including eight pages of color photos, source notes, bibliography,
and a thorough index.
This is not
a psychobabble volume readable by a few academics. The author writes
in plain English about a complicated subject that she makes easily
understandable. She has interviewed hundreds of survivors, scholars,
and scientists to obtain her information.
The book is
divided into three parts: Denial, Deliberation, and The Decisive
Moment. Inside the three parts are eight chapters.
studies and first person accounts from survivors of a variety of
disasters, the author explains why some people survive while many
are dying all around them. Our natural instincts in a disaster are
fear, shock, and flight or fight.
have studied why some people gather into groups, some freeze in
place, others flee the scene, while others respond calmly. Case
histories of each response are given ranging from Hurricane Katrina,
the Twin Towers, the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire, a plane crash
in Washington DC, the Virginia Tech shootings, the annual pilgrimage
to Mecca, ferry sinking in the Baltic Sea, and many more.
There are numerous
lessons for the reader, especially those who want to be prepared
for any emergency.
are predictable outcomes are not. I live in tornado country
and not having a shelter is gambling with lives, so I have a shelter
close to an exit door of my home and emergency radios to keep me
informed. Earthquakes are number two so I have insurance. Forest
fires are next and I have a quick exit plan. What disaster zone
do you live in? Are you prepared for the inevitable?
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