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Surviving the Extremes: A Doctor's Journey to the Limits of Human Endurance

4.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  716 Ratings  ·  91 Reviews
Physiological constraints confine our bodies to less than one-fifth of the earth's surface. Beyond that fraction lie the extremes. What happens when we go to them?

Dr. Kenneth Kamler has spent years observing exactly what happens. A vice president of the legendary Explorers Club, he has climbed, dived, sledded, floated, and trekked through some of the most treacherous and r
ebook, 320 pages
Published January 20th 2004 by St. Martin's Press
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Petar X
The opening scene of the book is a man who should be dead on Mount Everest being kept alive by the Buddhist chanting of the Tibetans, which was, perhaps, vibrating at the same resonance as the electric impulses that kept his heart beating. And, perhaps, in the same way that vibrations are multipled when that happens to a glass and it shatters, the heart muscle in strengthened to keep going.* Reading this and the explanations of why things happen when man adventures to extreme zones, is so intere ...more
I read this book for a biomed class at my school, and it surpassed every expectation I had for it—namely, that it would be boring, or purely factual. What I found instead was a novel with intriguing ideas which came from a synthesis insightful pieces of philosophy, incredible true stories of both survival and tragedy, and exceptional descriptions of scientific fact. It was a book I expected to trudge through at best, and so it was a really pleasant surprise for me to enjoy it wholeheartedly. I'd ...more
Lizz B
Sep 11, 2014 Lizz B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Surviving the Extremes is exactly what it sounds like-- a book about the extreme. From the coldest mountains in the world to the swampy, muggy areas of the Amazon rainforest, to the great vastness of space, the author took us from place to place, describing events that had happened to unfortunate human beings who survived despite the odds. This book was both intriguing and terrifying; I didn't know humans could survive for days/weeks/months at a time in places like the desert or lost at sea, but ...more
Bernie Gourley
The title says it all. This is a book about all that can go wrong with the human body when it’s exposed to the most extreme conditions possible—including places where no human can survive without the benefit of modern technology. The medical science provides plenty of tidbits of fascinating food for thought, but it’s the stories of survival (or, sometimes, the lack thereof)—many of which the author, Kenneth Kamler, M.D., was present for—that make this a gripping non-fiction read.

There are only
Bret Dougherty
Jun 05, 2013 Bret Dougherty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From survival in the depths of a South American jungle, to episodes of starvation and desolation of the high seas, to the vast range of extreme heat and cold desert temperatures, this read forces you to realize the challenges that the body and mind can overcome.

I gained a ton of knowledge nuggets from this book. I have to admit that the tales of survival and the ability to forge ahead when all else upends glued my attention throughout the read...(How to survive in a jungle hit me the most.) This
Paul Ison
Nov 26, 2010 Paul Ison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It may be because this is the perfect merging of two of my favorite interests - the science of the human body and stories of extreme adventure. Written by a surgeon who has explored and experienced many interesting adventures himself, this book deals with the frailty of the human body and the various ways we can perish in extreme environments. Traveling through the Amazon, to climbing above the death zone at Everest, to free diving, and traveling in space, the author ...more
Apr 03, 2016 Josh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Surviving the extremes is a tremendous book on the human body and its unique and determined will to survive in the most dangerous parts of our planet. Kenneth Kalmer is a doctor whose passion has been to study the human body and how it reacts when put in such hostile situations. He travels from jungles to deserts and mountains to ocean depths, to get first hand experience on how determined our body is to survive.
This book is written more like a doctor’s journal than just a recount of Kalmer ex
Sierra F
Mar 02, 2016 Sierra F rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was very nerve racking. This is a novel about A doctor and stories he experienced in extreme places around the world. The majority of this book contained explanations of different situations that either Kenneth Kamler himself or people he knew of going through life or death experiences. As these things occurred he elaborately explained why it was dangerous health wise and how to “cure it”. For instance, when he was narrating a story in the desert about this family who was in the desert ...more
Allison Uribe
Mar 02, 2016 Allison Uribe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is very educational and overall incredibly interesting as it focuses on how a person would go about surviving in the most extreme environments on the planet and how a person would fare in outer space. While reading through the book, I found new information about how to survive in situations that I know some people in my life would benefit by knowing. My cousins always talk about how they go boating often and how they mainly go from Long Beach to Catalina Island. I thought that that dis ...more
Mar 01, 2016 Keith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The structure of the book was well developed. The book comprises of six experiences that the author has either experienced or has been told about. The author brings the reader through a greatly descriptive journey through the extremes of the world. While some of the stories were slow at parts, the whole book was well paced and very interesting. While the book detail is a notable feature in the book as well as introducing the many body developments that occur while experiencing the extreme enviro ...more
Ivan Florentino
Jan 20, 2016 Ivan Florentino rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 21, 2016 Alyssa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in the human body
Recommended to Alyssa by: My human body systems teacher
I would recommend Surviving the Extremes, to someone who loves learning about the human body. Someone I know is very interested in the human body and also is interested in extreme environments. While this person does not enjoy reading I would recommend this book because not only does it explain the human body and how it reacts to different environments, but this book is also very engaging at the same time. You really get to experience the tension of the many people who are trapped in an extreme ...more
Jan 20, 2016 Olivia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Surviving the Extremes by Kenneth Kamler you get the perfect combination of extreme adventure, while still keeping the interesting educational aspect. This book is perfect for anyone who is interested in pursuing a medical career, enjoys adventures, or is just wants to learn about different environments and cultures around the world. This is good for an aspiring doctor, due to the large amount of explanation of medical procedures within the book. Whenever someone gets hurt, or prevention is n ...more
Renee Roemer
Apr 29, 2015 Renee Roemer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Surviving the Extremes is an exhilarating action packed book that never has a dull moment from the depth of the sea to the top of Mount Everest. This book is composed of the stories of a man named Kenneth Kamler who travels on different expeditions to be an on sight doctor in case any problems are to arise. It was not a matter of if any problems would arise it was a matter of when. He includes six different expeditions that he was able to accompany teams on and they were in the greatest places ...more
Apr 15, 2015 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Surviving the Extremes," is a great non-fiction novel written by Kenneth Kalmer. It explores all of the extreme environments around the world that challenge the abilities of the body anywhere from the middle of the Sahara desert to the center of the jungle. While reading, you are immersed in many environments that help you really understand what it's like to live or explore in these places. You also get to learn about what the body is doing inside to try and help keep you alive when you are fac ...more
Julie Nguyen
Mar 08, 2015 Julie Nguyen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Endeavour to the End of the Earth

Kamler has devoted his life to observing and researching the depths of human constraint. The restrictions man has is limitless and thats why Kamler puts himself in to the face of danger by researching the most extreme parts of the world. Throughout each grueling and detailed chapter, Kamler explains the human body and how fragile and delicate it can be in various situations, especially when placed into harsh environments. With Kamlers knowledge and his profes
Kora Kostiew
Mar 02, 2015 Kora Kostiew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 10th-grade-books
I absolutely loved this book, and usually I lose interest with nonfiction books, so that alone says a lot about just how good this book is. Maybe I found it so interesting because I myself am interested in the medical field as well as how the body works, etc. Throughout the whole book I was happy to be learning about the facts of what the body does in extreme circumstances and also loved how the author made it sound like an adventure book instead of a less interesting non-fiction one. I was alwa ...more
Mar 01, 2015 Natalie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone!
Recommended to Natalie by: Teacher
As a student in pursuing an education in Medicine, we were required to read this book Surviving the Extremes by Kenneth Kamler. This book was inspiring to future doctors and nurses because it takes the aspects of what we are going to study in and taking it to the next step. Dr. Kamler is a doctor, a very intelligent one, who wants to take his knowledge and applies it in the most extreme environments of the world. He sees the body in the jungle, desert, high seas, underwater, high altitude, and o ...more
Pallavi Santhosh
Surviving the Extremes by Kenneth Kamler, M.D. in a fast paced read that starts off in the jungle and moves throughout different settings such as land, sky, sea, and even space. “Using first hand testimony and documented accounts, he investigates the science of what a body goes through and explains why people survive” (Kamler back of book) in even the most harsh and challenging situations. I think that people taking health, biology, or medical courses should read this book because it in an educa ...more
Kassidy Stevens
Mar 02, 2016 Kassidy Stevens rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this book would appeal to people who are interested in the medical field and how it applies in the craziest of situations. The majority of the book is based on the experiences of Dr. Kamler who uses his instinct and medical knowledge to help his patients who “are the people who live on the edge of survival and beyond.“(Kamler 6) He is the kind of doctor who loves to “practice medicine in environments and in situations incompatible with life.”(Kamler 6) The author’s desire to explore and ...more
Lexi Watts
Mar 03, 2015 Lexi Watts rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 10th-grade-shelf
I loved this entire book! I read some of it a while ago, then finished it for this month's nonfiction book. I am interested in anything medical and also love adventures, so this was the perfect book for me. It was especially cool that the author, Kenneth Kamler, wrote from personal experience in many of the sections of the book. I wish that he had written it first account for all of the sections. Obviously, he could not write about outer space or being stranded first hand, but I would have liked ...more
Jan 20, 2016 Pheebs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kenneth Kamler’s Surviving the Extremes is as highly informative and thrilling as it appears to be. Any reader interested in survival or the human body would be shocked at the reality of the hostile environments described in the book. The author utilizes these extremities to reveal the nature and science of the human body in a given situation. These situations bring out the best and the worst of the human mind and it's will to survive. Through these challenges, Kalmer shows human brains are extr ...more
Sami Beasley
Mar 31, 2015 Sami Beasley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 10th-grade-books
Surviving the Extremes is exactly what the title entails; a book about surviving extreme conditions. Individuals survived the coldest mountains in the whole world under conditions that would not normally seem survivable. There were stories from the swampy, muggy areas of the Amazon rain forest where surgery was preformed in a shack with minimal tools, to the great unknown of outer space. Kamler showed us real events that had happened to real people who should not have survived, but they did. Thi ...more
Lucy Mwangi
Jul 26, 2016 Lucy Mwangi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was very informing. Although it took a long time to read because of how many medical terms were used and the way the book was structured. As you read each chapter you are taken from one extreme point on Earth to the next with Dr. Kamler. Kamler will join different expeditions in the extremes. Sometimes he is a doctor joining a job to protect them from the dangers of that extreme. Other times he is just a regular person going for the experience. You learn the different types o ...more
Madiy Ledezma
I think the type of person to read this book would be one who likes adventure and the tests of the body. The whole book is about testing the body to its limits. So, maybe someone stuck at home could live through this book. Instead of actually climbing Mt. Everest you can breath, or lack of breath, on the peak of the enormous snowy mountain. Anyone who want to have a slight taste of the wild should read this book. Though if you get grossed out easily, I suggest you skip the first chapter. Many of ...more
Jun 17, 2015 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I'm normally not one to read nonfiction books for fun, so when I was told to read this for a class, I wasn't looking forward to much. I expected an unentertaining list of data and lone facts to memorize. Thankfully, I was completely wrong.
Surviving the Extremes is a special combination of survival guide, medical textbook, and survivor narratives. Kamler uses the experiences of himself and his peers to illustrate the best way to not die in the given environments - jungle, open ocean, desert, und
Josiane Claremont
At first, I was apprehensive because I'm normally not that in to reading biographies, or even nonfictions for that matter! But Dr. Kamler really knows how to write, and that's what made me want to read more than my assigned chapter and go deeper in depth on how the human body systems work under extreme stress in different environments. After reading this, I'll definitely want to be careful when I'm out on exotic vacations!

Although I was a little put off by the fact that Dr. Kamler focused on onl
Kristopher Swinson
Kamler is very approachable, seeming to possess the requisite character for a doctor on tightly knit teams, including a sort of humility before greater forces and even (subtly) God. His trace of humor grew more obvious toward the very end. I was willing to put up with extensive (and unexpected) technical details for the overall surprisingly good literary style, to say nothing of the fact that one shouldn't complain about learning, or having to think, more than one had bargained on!

His fascinatio
Jun 30, 2010 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Kenneth Kamler is a hand surgeon who also managed to fall into the field of extreme medicine. In this book, he takes a look at some of the most extreme environments in the world (i.e. the jungle, the desert, underwater) and explains in great detail what happens to the human body in such extreme conditions. He also includes stories in each of these chapters - both personal stories of his own cases, and stories of others who've faced extreme conditions (some of whom survived, some who didn't). The ...more
Victoria Girigan
May 13, 2015 Victoria Girigan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 10th-grade-books
Surviving the Extremes is a very interesting book, telling true stories about people who have pushed their bodies to the limits, weather or not they survived these encounters. He includes his own experiences which makes the story more exciting. His explanations of how the body works under each circumstance emphasize the danger of pushing your body as these people had to. His story telling makes this book extremely interesting, however the explanations of the body are a bit boring and long.
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