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Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience
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Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  360 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
The shark attacked while she was snorkeling, tearing through Micki Glenn’s breast and shredding her right arm. Her husband, a surgeon, saved her life on the spot, but when she was safely home she couldn’t just go on with her life. She had entered an even more profound survival journey: the aftermath.

The survival experience changes everything because it invalidates all your
Paperback, 272 pages
Published October 14th 2013 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published September 10th 2012)
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Jun 14, 2014 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Say you got lucky when that grizzly bear tried to eat you & he failed. You've been injured horribly but you're still alive. Or your boat sinks & you're adrift for days & your friends go crazy & get eaten by sharks, but you're rescued. What comes next? Do you ride off into the sunset & live happily ever after or are you emotionally scarred & suffering? This is a wonderful book. While it's not as anecdote-heavy as Deep Survival, it's almost just as good, an in-depth look at ...more
Johanna Rothman
Feb 20, 2013 Johanna Rothman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It doesn't matter if you have had an "event" or not. You should read this book.

Gonzales writes the drama of the events magnificently. You could read the book for that. And, where people have let him into their daily lives, post-event, where they cope with the loss, the day-to-day *living*, that is where the book shines.

I found great comfort in knowing I didn't have to "talk through" the craziness that happened to me. That sublimation was a great thing. In fact, he suggests
- Sublimation
- Altruism
Alisa Kester
Dec 17, 2012 Alisa Kester rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Completely fascinating. And if anything horrible has happened to destroy your life, this book might actually bring you genuine help and relief.

Loved the confirmation that state of consciousness my brain enters while I write is most like that of a state we normally enter only while asleep. Makes sense, because I certainly feel the *exact* same feeling of grogginess when I come out of writing, as when I come out of sleep. Also it's interesting that walking induces theta rhythms in the hippocampus
Sep 10, 2012 Dominica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant book. The stories of the survivors are compelling and memorable. But what makes this book even more worth reading is the way in which Laurence Gonzales then uses these stories as a way to talk about the strategies these remarkable people used to deal with the ongoing memories of the traumas they had lived through. His explanations of how our brains (and bodies) deal with life after survival are fascinating. Best of all is the list of characteristics humans have developed to deal with ...more
Oct 19, 2015 Gea rated it it was amazing
This is beautiful, inspiring, heart breaking and powerful. What an incredible follow up to Deep Survival. There is a lot of science here but also incredible stories of unbelievable trauma and resilience. Some of their stories, particularly the survivor of the Nazi Death Brigade, brought me to tears. Gonzales is a deeply sensitive writer with a warrior's heart and a poet's eye.
I picked up this book because I was very interested in the topic of how people recover (or don't) from traumatic, life-threatening events. I don't think Gonzales has more real answers to this question than could fill a long magazine article.
Full length review: http://perpetualspiralreviews.blogspo...
May 20, 2014 Deb rated it it was amazing
** Living with while living on.**

There are those books you read that are intellectually satisfying, and those that are emotionally stimulating. This one is both!

Laurence Gonzales melds his incredible writing talent with his curiosity, compassion, and personal journey to bring grounding to the earth-shaking aftermath of trauma. His second book in exploring the impact of trauma, _Surviving Survival_ poignantly conveys how trauma recovery is not a matter of getting over, but of getting on:

Claudia Putnam
I'm not sure the 4-star rating would mean much to others. I got a lot out of this book, but it's mostly a synthetic project, which means that for each section there is original work that probably goes deeper and may be better rendered. However, this book delivers a lot of rich material in a convenient package that, for me, provided food for thought.

Such as:

How the sixth sense works--not as extrasensory, but as the underpinning of our senses, and often the key to our survival, if we can listen t
A very interesting book about what happens after surviving a traumatic event. Not limiting itself to PTSD, it explores coping, resilience, emotion and starting over with intense case studies and eloquent explanations based on neuroscience.

But Gonzales also makes a few dubious claims in his attempt to wax lyrical about the evolution and nature of being human. Without proper referencing it's hard to distinguish fact from fanciful and unsubstantiated musings.
Christopher Brennan
Jun 08, 2016 Christopher Brennan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Man I wish I'd read this when I bought it. Or two years ago. Or last year. Still, glad I made time for it.
Feb 04, 2013 Vanessa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: survival story readers, behavioral therapists, how-to-succeed-in-business types
Shelves: survival
I picked up Surviving Survival because I enjoyed Gonzales' earlier book Deep Survival. While I have never been in a survival situation, I have been deeply disappointed. I have been profoundly affected by stories such as Touching the Void writer Joe Simpson’s. Simpson, for those who don’t know, made and executed a choice to go deeper into the glacier in which he was trapped. He had a broken leg at the time, which could have been a death sentence. "When you're going through hell, keep going" and ...more
Alanna Jane
Aug 01, 2016 Alanna Jane rated it it was ok
There is no question that this book is well written; it absolutely is. And yet, at this point (~1/3 finished), I am having a really hard time with it.

First, I have been through multiple traumas, and was diagnosed with PTSD several years ago (on top of chronic illness). Now, while the author clearly says that PTS(D) can be sourced from much more than war, the examples used for demonstration are so sensationalist that they essentially fall into the same category: over-the-top and violently extrem
Douglas Lord
Dec 12, 2014 Douglas Lord rated it it was amazing
So, your 40-foot yacht is going down, and five of you are stuck in a rubber life raft 300 miles off the coast of North Carolina with NOTHING. Or maybe your husband has shot you, and you've bled ten precious pints. This is a book about what happens after you've somehow lived through the shark ripping out your armpit, severing arteries and leaving a narrow flap of skin to hold your arm on. The survivor tales of these traumas (as well as large disasters like the torpedoing of the USS Indianapolis) ...more
Owen Spencer
Feb 10, 2013 Owen Spencer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I benefitted greatly from reading this highly useful guide for coping with life's worst stressors. Although this book was written by a journalist (not a doctor, scientist, or mental health professional), it contains excellent insights and an abundance of information relevant to both professionals and the general public. I would highly recommend it to anyone working in the mental health field, or anyone struggling with serious problems in life (which is most people). I didn't agree with every ...more
Terrah Mayes
Sep 20, 2013 Terrah Mayes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so incredible. It explains the bodies response and the brains response. It kind of takes the stance of how when we watch a movie about a tragedy and then they roll the credits- then end of story- but about real life situations- okay we did we survived the impossible- now what? Essentially, it's asking and answering the question of, how do people move forward after they've survived a major trauma? How do people move forward after their lives are forever altered? It also discusses ...more
Libbet Bradstreet
Oct 04, 2015 Libbet Bradstreet rated it liked it
Really interesting take on reintegration into society after trauma. Gonzales does a great job of formatting the book, dropping you right into the drama in a very compelling way. The pacing of the prose is also quite pivotal--and you never get bored. For me, the first two cases were the most fascinating (the first: a survivor of domestic abuse, the second: a woman having survived a vicious crocodile attack on vacation). Gonzales started to lose me with the Aron Ralston case. It might have just ...more
May 11, 2013 Ellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy Laurence Gonzales' writing style immensely. He writes with a sense of immediacy that will keep you from putting down this book in favor of any other activity. This book was written as an amendment to his earlier book "Deep Survival" wherein he writes about extreme danger and the people involved in these events. This book, "Surviving . . ." is about what happens AFTER they survived: how did their life change, how do they cope with what has happened to them, the brain changes that took ...more
Paul Ewing
Jun 18, 2013 Paul Ewing rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder and you have the ability to read (the potential severity of the condition precludes some sufferers from reading), I highly recommend you read this book to cope with and then overcome the condition. If you know someone who has lost the battle with PTSD regardless of source--combat, spousal abuse, life-threatening illness, shark attack (seriously), death of a child, etc.--I encourage you to read this book to help your loved one. For ...more
Jan 03, 2013 Gwynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My curiosity got the better of me on this one. The idea of resilience being both art and science piqued my interest, so I picked it up and devoured it. I've actually been rereading it as there are aspects that seem to apply to my own life, and it's becoming kind of an instruction manual as I make my way through this relocation business.

The science is fascinating! He does a really good job of explaining the science, and offering examples of the science at work. It's rather interesting that, thou
Aug 06, 2013 April rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what can I say? I bought this book about 6 months ago and just now read it. I lost my brother about a month ago and I had hopes that this book would have some useful information and ideas on how to cope with my loss. For me, at this time in my life, this book is a treasure! The information within the book, as well as the riveting true tales of survival kept e hooked until the last page. Even though I may never get attacked by a shark, bear or have to survive a Nazi death camp this book was ...more
Oct 25, 2013 AR rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
About the time I was three fourths through with this book, someone I love was assaulted on the street. Thanks to information I learned from this book, I was a more effective and more understanding support person.

I came to Surviving Survival as a result of reading Gonzales' earlier work, Deep Survival. Both books have also been helpful to me in processing my own leftover feelings from past hurts as well as in facing the uncertainty of the future. Gonzales offers a powerful perspective.

I did find
Jake Wavra
The horrifying survival tales were quite interesting to read, ranging anywhere from grizzly attacks to Nazi concentration camps. This book also doubled as a crash course in advanced psychology, exploring the brain’s emotional capacity. The self-help advice for trauma recovery was somewhat redundant. I was disappointed that the author didn't expand more on the self—a person’s spirit. At times, it felt like he was reducing humanity to nothing more than electrical impulses and instinctual ...more
Aug 16, 2014 Caitlin rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book. The author writes about all the varying survivors with empathy, and it's hard not to get attached to all of them. This can be upsetting because they all suffer during and after their traumatic events. Not all of them are alive today but they are all very inspiring. I will continually be referring back to Gonzales's Rules of Life, as well as his reflections on the preciousness of life, and his note on the tenuousness of continual survival. It was all surprisingly helpful ...more
Jan 31, 2016 Michele rated it really liked it
This book is about coping and resilience AFTER a major trauma. In many cases, trauma or crisis survivors suffer more AFTER the trauma than they did during the actual trauma.

The author in each chapter describes the actual life-threatening experience that a person has survived (these alone makes for compelling reading) and how that person has coped in the aftermath of that experience.

Along the way, Gonzales delves into several topics such as neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, and biochemistry.
Patrick Ian
Mar 03, 2015 Patrick Ian rated it it was amazing
Surviving Survival chronicles true stories of intense trauma, loss, courage, resilience, and evolution into post traumatic existence. In describing complex psychological concepts, Gonzales' writing has all the approachability and fullness of a conversation with your favorite college professor. Surprisingly, this quality is skillfully offset by storytelling, like a tribal medicine man's, with fierce tangibility, white-knuckled anticipation and intimate detail. This book left me with a sharp ...more
Bea Elwood
Jun 06, 2015 Bea Elwood rated it liked it
It's always fun to have that book you have to tell people about while you are reading it. I love these books that explain brain science in a personal narrative, and resilience has been one of my favorite subjects to study. Reading this book was a bit like juggling, slowly one story is introduced but a few chapters later we are still referring to it as we start to add new stories, I was thankful in the end when he started adding chapter reminders so you could refresh your memory as to who he was ...more
Paulette R
Feb 23, 2016 Paulette R rated it it was amazing
I read Gonzales' "Deep Survival" several years ago, and still find myself referencing it in conversation. I'm certain the same will happen with this book. You will read heartbreaking tragedies (events that you'd think would absolutely emotionally decimate someone), and the incredible resilience of those who overcame them. At the same time, I can't imagine one could read this book and not learn something profound about themselves. Epiphanies, inspiration, and gratitude for living this life will ...more
A very practical and helpful -- immediately applicable! -- guide to how we survive and can thrive after traumatic injury. Full of stories of people who have endured horrific injury -- shark attack and military combat to name two -- and have taken small, specific, realistic steps to overcome all that they could. The balanced and realistic approach of Laurence Gonzales' book is refreshing -- there is no 'pop psych' here; no false hope. Highly recommended for trauma survivors as a guide ... and for ...more
Apr 27, 2013 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Intense and, at times, difficult to read due to the types of personal stories. The author is honest about who is he, why he is writing, and about the outcomes of the stories which have been generously shared with him.

He is not a scientist, and this is not a long term study with control groups on resilience. But for anyone who has ever suffered a trauma and for anyone who has tried to help someone post traumatic event, so much guidance, support, and basic knowledge can be gained from this work.(
Mary Jane
Dec 27, 2014 Mary Jane rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite topics to read: survival stories. I read Laurence Gonzales' Deep Survival several years ago, and was completely fascinated by the psychology of humans and survival. Surviving Survival is every bit as fascinating. Gonzales writes about what is happening in the brain after a tragedy and how humans deal with it; his books are a gift to all of us. He relays this information through the stories of individuals' tragedies. These stories will have you contemplating what you will do to ...more
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Laurence Gonzales is the author of Surviving Survival and the bestseller Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why. He has won two National Magazine Awards. His essays are collected in the book House of Pain.
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