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Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why

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Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why

Postby Bob Sihler » Sun Aug 01, 2010 5:39 pm

Anyone read this book by Laurence Gonzales? A friend has recommended it, but he's not into hiking or climbing or outdoors stuff in general, and I'm wondering what other climbers think of it.
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Postby Augie Medina » Sun Aug 01, 2010 6:55 pm

Bob,

I did a review of it for the SP gear section. As you can tell from the review, I thought it was an extremely worthwhile read, one of the best in the genre of "survival" literature.
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Postby jmatthys » Sun Aug 01, 2010 7:12 pm

Mountain Impulse wrote:Bob,

I did a review of it for the SP gear section. As you can tell from the review, I thought it was an extremely worthwhile read, one of the best in the genre of "survival" literature.


+ 1

Enjoyable read and you can take a few things from it if you find yourself in an unfortunate situation
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Postby Nelson » Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:20 am

I wished I'd read it before I blundered into my avalanche bad judgment. One never knows for sure but it might have made a difference. I fell into some of the traps outlined in the book.

Excellent book, recommended.
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Postby Bob Sihler » Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:59 am

Thanks for the feedback, guys. I tend not to enjoy nonfiction much, so I'll look for this one at the library but will look forward to it.
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Postby Sarah Simon » Mon Aug 02, 2010 3:03 am

I've also read the book. There were indeed several good "learning moments" in the book. On the other hand, sometimes the author's tone was not to my liking. Hard to desribe, but - well, he indulges himself in a bit too much self-worship and father-worship to the point that it gets tiring.

All in all a good read, but the tone / writing style means it's not earned a place in my favorites.
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Postby kiwiw » Mon Aug 02, 2010 7:43 am

yeah someone told me to read it and all it did was make me think of the author as being a self important d bag. well maybe that's a little too harsh but I really didn't like him after reading that book. he has his own column in adventure magazine too that I cannot stand. most of the survival situations detailed were overshadowed by Gonzales massive ego.
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Postby pearson » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:21 pm

kiwiw wrote:yeah someone told me to read it and all it did was make me think of the author as being a self important d bag. well maybe that's a little too harsh but I really didn't like him after reading that book. he has his own column in adventure magazine too that I cannot stand. most of the survival situations detailed were overshadowed by Gonzales massive ego.


I'm getting there. I bought it yesterday and my kindle tells me I've read 45% of it. When he was talking about science that I wasn't intimate with it sounded way cool but i wondered if he knew what he was talking about. WHen he spoke about science that I do know pretty well, he was pretty off. Way way way too much ego. Now, I've never been in a situation like the one that happened on Hood of which he wrote: "Hillman's comment that he was ready to arrest 5 people falling 100' indicates how little he understood the amount of energy in the system."

Of course this is pretty much what Pete Schoening did on K2 in 1953. The mechanics of the K2 accident were different but I found myself annoyed with the remark about Hillman's lack of understanding anyway.

And then there is just what I would call techno-babble: "Every time you walk on Mt Hood it's a different mountain. To use the technical terms, it's a boundary condition, a phase transition zone." I know what boundary conditions are and I know what phase transitions are and what he is saying sounds cool but doesn't mean anything which is really annoying.
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Postby Bob Sihler » Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:15 pm

I appreciate these other perspectives now and know I can't abide reading someone's ego trip. Now I definitely will borrow rather than buy so that if I can't stand it, I can close the book and not be out any cash.
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Postby Curt » Mon Aug 02, 2010 5:21 pm

My advice: borrow it, skim for interesting bits on the neuroscience and psychology of decision-making under stress, then use the bibliography to make up a list of more useful reading. If you find yourself liking the book (I did), it's interesting to read the stories and see which cognitive traps you've fallen into or avoided in all of your adventures.
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Postby pearson » Tue Aug 03, 2010 5:36 pm

I finished it yesterday. There was, an, errh, phase transition between the first and second halves. The second half was better. Less ego and less techno-babble. I don't think there is any science at all to be learned from the book but it is an interesting read.

Some stuff I enjoyed reading like the guy who was cursing at God. I remember years ago being angry at my surroundings on a wilderness trip which had become a little difficult and then having the realization wash over me that my surroundings were utterly indifferent to me. They weren't trying to kill me. They weren't malevolent. They weren't benign. They just were and I had to accept that.

His claim that the non-existent "science of complexity" has been more successful than Einstein's theory of relativity is simply idiotic. Stuff like that simply annoys. He desperately needed an editor with a big fat red pen, especially in the first half. If they'd culled out a huge chunk of ego and all the nonsense and technobabble the book would've been better for it. Still I recommend reading it.
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