The Unthinkable

The Unthinkable : Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - And Why

4.12 (3,638 ratings by Goodreads)
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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 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 personality-anything we've ever learned, thought, or dreamed of-ultimately matter? Amanda Ripley, an award-winning journalist for "Time" magazine 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 1917-one of the biggest explosions before the invention of the atomic bomb-to 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 Unthinkable" escorts 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."show more

Product details

  • CD-Audio | 8 pages
  • 127 x 149.86 x 30.48mm | 249.47g
  • Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • Unabridged
  • Unabridged
  • 0739329308
  • 9780739329306
  • 1,713,856

Review quote

"A fascinating and useful new book." --"The New York Times" "The thinking person's manual for getting out alive." --NPR "Ripley is a voyeur on a mission...Her conviction: We'd all stand a better chance of surviving a disaster if we understood what happens to our little gray cells when things get ugly....Spiced with surprising factoids, this book might save your life one day." --"Bloomberg News" ""The Unthinkable" is part study of the science of reaction to extreme fear, part indictment of the US government's response to the terrorist threat, part call to arms....The end result is a fascinating book....Despite its title and its subject matter, "The Unthinkable" is an optimistic... --"The Times" of London "Engrossing and lucid...An absorbing study of the psychology and physiology of panic, heroism, and trauma...Facing the truth about the human capacity for risk and disaster turns out to be a lot less scary than staying in the dark." --"O, The Oprah Magazine" "This is a book with a purpose, meant to change things." --Rob Hardy, "The Commercial Dispatch" "Amanda Ripley takes us on a sometimes stunning, sometimes sobering journey through disaster, using great stories and respected science to show why some prevail and others do not. "The Unthinkable" isn't merely a book about disaster; it's a book about survival -- maybe yours." ----Gavin de Becker, author of the "New York Times" bestseller "The Gift of Fear" "With "The Unthinkable," Amanda Ripley succeeds in two different ways. First, she covers, with great clarity and accuracy, the science of how the body and mind respond to crisis. In the process, she prescribes certain actions that will increase the chances of surviving a disaster. But it's the second aspect, the stories, that makes the book so compelling. These tales leave your viscera enflamed because they compel two questions: 'What would it feel like to go through that?' and 'Would I dshow more

About Amanda Ripley

A senior writer for Time magazine, Amanda Ripley has been extensively involved in the magazine’s “Person of the Year” cover stories and now writes about homeland security and risk in Washington, D.C. Her disaster reporting recently helped Time win two National Magazine Awards. For more information about Amanda and this book, go to www.TheUnthinkable.com.show more

Rating details

3,638 ratings
4.12 out of 5 stars
5 38% (1,399)
4 40% (1,452)
3 18% (654)
2 3% (106)
1 1% (27)
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