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The Third Man Factor: Surviving The Impossible
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The Third Man Factor: Surviving The Impossible

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  314 ratings  ·  76 reviews
The Third Man Factor tells the revealing story behind an extraordinary idea: that people at the very edge of death, often adventurers or explorers, experience a benevolent presence beside them who encourages them to make one final effort to survive.

If only a handful of people had ever experienced the Third Man, it might be dismissed as an unusual delusion shared by a few o...more
290 pages
Published July 2nd 2009 by Canongate (first published 2006)
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Jennifer (aka EM)
There is no publisher's description up for this book, and it's out just today. I heard an interview this a.m. on cbc with the author. It sounds fascinating. Check out these comments from the author's website:

"John Geiger's book, his fifth ... offers an original theory for the evolutionary importance of 'Shackleton's angel.' Geiger is well positioned to tackle the historical and scientific background of these close encounters of the wild kind...Packed with edge-of-your-seat stories of survival an...more
Christine
I thought the topic of this book was very interesting and enjoyed the stories of survival and endurance. However, some stories were repetitive and I found myself wanting to skip past them to get to the next theme. I appreciated that Geiger remained neutral throughout the book until the last chapter where he explains his thoughts on the phenomenon. I would highly recommend this book to those interested in survival stories and the human psyche.
Katherine Tomlinson
Although immensely readable, this is a very strange book. It is part spiritual self-help book (how to access your inner third man) and part adventure story.

What the tales here really inspire are ghost stories. That’s especially true in the section where the writer is talking about the experiences at the Antarctic bases, the sense of a presence that goes back centuries to the first accounts of exploration in that isolated area. It’s especially interesting that there seem to be two different kind...more
Michael
Geiger presents a collection of tales of survival in extreme environments where the adventurer or survivor has documented the experience of a presence that comforts and guides them in their time of need. From Shackleton's famed Antarctic misadventure, through the high altitude travails of summit hungry mountaineers, to survival in the towers of the World Trade centre, we see this phenomenon emerge again and again. Geiger's inquiry into the phenomenon is sober and meticulous but also imbued with...more
Frank
Book Review: The Third Man Factor: Surviving the Impossible by John Geiger

Ron DiFrancesco was the last person to escape the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. He somehow made it from his desk on the eighty-fourth floor of the South Tower, through flames, down the stairwell and outdoors to safety before the tower collapsed. He says someone, an angel grabbed his hand and guided him at that critical time.

Also on 9/11, Will Jimeno, a NY Port Authority officer rushed to the World Trade Center to...more
Grant Trevarthen
In having a near death experience in June 2008, it made me question what is life ?, what comes after ?. I've also been reading books by Mitch Albom & Dan Millman.
Not being a regular churchgoer but having an inner faith,I wanted to explore my spiritual side for personal reasons , but also to read other peoples spiritual journeys and experiences.
I happened to see on TV a teenage American boy, who'd had a burst to 'superhuman' strength which saved his Uncle from being crushed beneath a car he...more
Josie
I found the subject of this book to be fascinating! People under extreme stress in extreme environments report the feeling of a presence that helps and encourages them to survive; a so called "Third Man". Geiger had many stories to report of this phenomenon, but after awhile the relating of these stories became tedious because they were all very similar. Geiger also introduced scientific studies brought about to explain this phenomenon; everything from hypothermia, to the effects of stress, alti...more
Xebe(tron)
This book was interesting in its fairly brief discussion of what could be the various causes and explanations of the "Third Man Factor" (the feeling of an outside presence during times of physical and/or psychological strain in mostly extreme or unusual environments). Otherwise this is simply a collection of Third Man factor accounts that become quite tedious and repetitive, and which I generally started skipping the further I got into the book. Since the author states that he has created a webs...more
Barb
Very interesting topic about those under life-threatening conditions who report having a "companion" help them. I had a similar experience so wanted to read this after hearing an NPR interview with the author. However, I thought the book was poorly organized and turned out to be a disjointed set of anecdotes. It's possible that, given the subject, that's all it could be. Interesting reading in any case.
Anne
Interesting read about how people in extremis often find themselves comforted - or even saved - by a spirit - a ghost - an angel - or themselves. Stories of mountain climbers, sailors, accident victims, even a 9/11 survivor are woven throughout with assessments of the neurological, psychological or spiritual elements associated with "the third man" sightings.
Anne
Erneilson
A very interesting study of a very interesting phenomenon. The author tries to explain the perceived presence of helpful "personages" reported by a variety of mountaineers, explorers, astronauts and sailors who experience the extremes of conditions that threaten their survival. His explanation is that it has a biological/neurological source. Perhaps. But I am not entirely convinced that this explanation works in every case, especially when he tries to explain spiritual visions. Some of the latte...more
Nick
Chronicles a history of 'survival events' involving people who were assisted by a perceived spiritual entity, and the range of medical and spiritual attempts to explain these events. Verdict is still out.
Aileen15
Simply put, this book was absolutely riveting; I read it in two days. You have to read it yourself to understand why I can't review it further.
Steve
Aug 26, 2009 Steve marked it as wish-list  ·  review of another edition
"Who is the third who walks always beside you?" -- T. S. Eliot


Iso Cambia
Jun 21, 2014 Iso Cambia rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Outdoor Adventurers, Cognitive Psychologists, Pastors, Mystics, Therapists
"... strange and uninvited guests are likely to intrude on any protracted human solitude." (p. 27)

a case of a neurological mechanism projecting oneself into extracorporeal space - that when a person encounters the Third Man, he is encountering him or herself (p. 227).

the body invents ways to keep the person alive. (p. 240)

This is a quick read. Interesting subject, but now I would like to read a better version of this book - one that delves further into the research, repeats itself much less, and...more
Susan
Shortly after I graduated from college, two friends and I travelled around Europe. After a while, the three of us realized that when we were walking together, we were always looking around for the fourth person. Eventually we named her Mary Anne and joked about her. We were hardly in the wilderness, or alone, or under great duress, but travelling in Europe was a new experience for us. I recalled that I had read in a book The Balloonist: A novel by MacDonald Harris, a book that had captured my im...more
John Alt
Charles Lindbergh heard the Third Man on his 1928 transAtlantic flight, New York to Paris. James Sevigny heard the Third Man when he was tumbled two thousand feet by an avalanche, his back broken. "Most of the people who've encountered the Third Man aren't mystics," says John Geiger, "a senior fellow at the University of Toronto and governor of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society." A NASA astronaut heard him, as well as explorer Ernest Shackleton, who coined the "Third Man" term. They have b...more
Corrie Campbell
The stories that Geiger collects and tells are simply astonishing. Some are inspiring, but others are downright gruesome - either way none of them are dull. These stories are worth the price of admission (so to speak). However, the scientific materialism that follows which tries to explain away The Third Man factor falls rather flat. Each explanation touches upon an interesting point, but never erases all of the fascinating details of The Third Man factor making the explanations somewhat lame. A...more
David
a very interesting book to debunk the fact that actually there might not be angels, or demons or any past lives coming to visit you when a person is in a book so called, Extreme and Unusual Environments (EUE)...a book vividly described many (I mean tons) of extreme conditional adventures such as mountain climbing, Poles' expeditions that requires extreme mentality..the book also listed many researchers' effort to create so called phenomenon (not theories) to explain what goes on..in order to spo...more
Joseph Serwach
"Who is the third who walks always beside you? When I count, there are only you and I together. But when I look ahead up the white road. There is always another one walking beside you. Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded. I do not know whether a man or woman - But who is that on the other side of you?'' - TS Eliot

Ron DiFrancesco was the last person to get out of the World Trade Center alive on 9/11/2001. A "third man'' guided him to safety, telling him to go down the stairs rather than tryin...more
Oyster
There is truth behind the guardian angel: a term was coined by John Geiger to refer to the phenomenon of an ethereal being who helps in times of duress. The “third man factor” has been reported by explorers like Reinhold Messner, Peter Hillary, Ann Bancroft, and Ernest Shackleton. Added little known fact: Shackleton’s initial account served as inspiration for a portion of Eliot’s The Waste Land.
Joan
Geiger describes multiple expeditions in the world's harshest environments by adventurers both well known and not. Most of these "adventures" are incredibly challenging and are described as great feats of perseverance and endurance. The commonality between them, in experiences from environments ranging from the worlds highest peaks to 40 days stranded on a raft -- is the experience of having another presence with them at their times of deepest distress. Geiger explores explanations of this commo...more
Summer
Based off of personal accounts of people in extreme situations, this book takes the reader on an often intense ride thru deep caves in the ocean, high atop the tallest mountains in the world, the Twin Towers on 9.11, etc., & they all have very similar experiences in these isolative experiences; an extra "felt presence" that helped them out of their situation. The author takes us through all possible situations and give all possible explanations for this strange but fairly common phenomenon....more
Marissa
I was disappointed in this book. It contained a lot of similar anecdotes but didn't go very far with possible explanations for the "Third Man Factor." I came away feeling that the author was protecting his ideas rather than exploring them thoroughly.
Pam
Mountaineers, sailors, and other adventurers in extreme life or death situations frequently experience the presence of an unseen or shadowy companion who helps them cope and survive. This phenomenon is called the third man factor, and this book explores the various explanations for it, ranging from guardian angels to hallucinations to a physical split in the brain's hemispheres to interference with the tempo-parietal junction of the brain, to name only a few. Geiger has presented fascinating sur...more
Paleofuture
A really interesting book about mysterious presences that seem to occasionally show up and help those under extreme and/or monotonous conditions. I would actually give this book a 3.5 if possible on here. It was really engrossing but a little heavy on the documented cases. There is a good chunk of the book that offers possible explanations for the Third Man Factor, and these were the best part. The author occasionally repeats himself, as if trying to stretch the book's length. The hard cover cop...more
Nicole
I'm not even sure what category to stick this in. The book takes a look at experiences of "The Third Man". It goes into some of the research being done to explain why people have these experiences. Though the author acknowledges that some people believe The Third Man is a guardian angel, or similar benevolent entity, this is definitely a secular look at the phenomenon. I enjoyed reading the accounts, but didn't really find the science convincing, perhaps because this wasn't the kind of book that...more
Anya
This book was on sale for kindle on Amazon, so I've decided to give it a try. The author does not only compile a mountain of amazing stories of helpful encounters with "the third man" or a supernatural being in times of severe distress (those of the 9/11 survivor Ron DiFrancesco's, NASA astronaut Jerry Linenger's aboard the Mir space station and Sir Ernest Shackleton's being among
the better known ones). He also presents some of the scientific research that went into the subject. I was not impres...more
Amber
I found the stories in this book really interesting. It reminded me of a pioneer story of the man pulling the handcart who had decided he could go no further. He was going to make it to the next rock and then stop forever, when he felt someone else pushing his handcart. He kept looking back to see who was pushing. I found the theories very inconclusive, especially since none of the experiments sounded very much like what the survivors experienced. I found those sections tedious, but that's proba...more
Jen Minkman
I really liked the stories in this book about the mountaineers, deep sea divers and astronauts who encountered a presence known as 'the third man' in dire circumstances where they needed help. What slightly turned me off was how the book lacked any clear structure; there were just a lot of these stories lumped together in each chapter without building up to anything, and the many theories I thought would be presented were merely touched upon. It wasn't as scientific as I thought it would be judg...more
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The Third Man Factor first reads giveaway 3 25 Jul 28, 2009 03:05AM  
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