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Unthinkable Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why

ISBN-10: 0307352900
ISBN-13: 9780307352903
Edition: 2009
Authors: Amanda Ripley
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Description: It lurks in the corner of our imagination, almost beyond our ability to see it: the possibility that a tear in the fabric of life could open up without warning, upending a house, a skyscraper, or a civilization. Today, nine out of ten Americans live  More...

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Book details

List price: $15.00
Copyright year: 2009
Publisher: Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony
Publication date: 6/16/2009
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 288
Size: 5.25" wide x 8.00" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.748
Language: English

It lurks in the corner of our imagination, almost beyond our ability to see it: the possibility that a tear in the fabric of life could open up without warning, upending a house, a skyscraper, or a civilization. Today, 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 personalityanything we've ever learned, thought, or dreamed ofultimately matter? Amanda Ripley, an award-winning journalist forTimemagazine who has covered some of the most devastating disasters of our age, set out to discover what lies beyond fear and speculation. In this magnificent work of investigative journalism, Ripley retraces the human response to some of history's epic disasters, from the explosion of the Mont Blanc munitions ship in 1917one of the biggest explosions before the invention of the atomic bombto a plane crash in England in 1985 that mystified investigators for years, to the journeys of the 15,000 people who found their way out of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Then, to understand the science behind the stories, Ripley turns to leading brain scientists, trauma psychologists, and other disaster experts, formal and informal, from a Holocaust survivor who studies heroism to a master gunfighter who learned to overcome the effects of extreme fear. Finally, Ripley steps into the dark corners of her own imagination, having her brain examined by military researchers and experiencing through realistic simulations what it might be like to survive a plane crash into the ocean or to escape a raging fire. Ripley comes back with precious 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. The Unthinkableescorts us into the bleakest regions of our nightmares, flicks on a flashlight, and takes a steady look around. Then it leads us home, smarter and stronger than we were before. From the Hardcover edition.

Amanda Ripley received a B.A. in government from Cornell University in 1996. She is a journalist whose stories on human behavior and public policy have appeared in Time, The Atlantic, and Slate and helped Time win two National Magazine Awards. She is the author of The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why, which was turned into a PBS documentary, and The Smartest Kids in the World - and How They Got That Way. She is currently an Emerson Fellow at the New America Foundation.

Introduction: "Life Becomes Like Molten Metal"
Denial
Delay: Procrastinating in Tower 1
Risk: Gambling in New Orleans
Deliberation
Fear: The Body and Mind of a Hostage
Resilience: Staying Cool in Jerusalem
Groupthink: Role Playing at the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire
The Decisive Moment
Panic: A Stampede on Holy Ground
Paralysis: Playing Dead in French Class
Heroism: A Suicide Attempt on the Potomac River
Conclusion: Making New Instincts
Author's Note
How to Boost Your Survival Odds
Notes
Selected Bibliography
Index

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