Wednesday, September 03, 2008

What We're Reading: The Unthinkable

Remember that earthquake a couple months ago? I was at the reference desk when the shaking began, and I hesitated probably a beat too long before finally crawling under the desk. What can I say - I am a woman of the desert and I still can't accept that the ground lurches. However, as I peered back up, I noticed that several of our Internet users were still typing away, completely unfazed.

When a tragedy strikes - by air, water, earth or flame - how do we react? What causes a person to freeze or even to take on the role of hero? In her book The Unthinkable: Who Survives when Disaster Strikes - And Why, Amanda Ripley studies numerous disasters and interviews the survivors to better understand what the body and brain do under extreme stress. From Hurricane Katrina to 9/11, from the Beverly Hills Supper Club to Virginia Tech, from the hajj in Saudi Arabia to the MV Estonia on the Baltic Sea, Ripley delves into some of the most tragic scenes the world over. By studying how we actually tend to react versus how we might imagine we'd react, we can improve our chances should the worst befall us. While it's certainly not good to dread the future, we should be prepared. This book will motivate you to do so.

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