Heidi's Reviews > Nerve: Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool

Nerve by Taylor Clark
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's review
Mar 14, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction
Read in March, 2011

How does a high school principal stare down the barrel of a rifle with no fear, or Laurence Olivier deliver a soliloquy without stage fright? The answer is, they don't. A scientific subject is discussed with storytelling skills in the book, Nerve, subtitled, Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool.

Taylor Clark is entertaining and humorous as he writes about fear, anxiety, and stress, and how the seemingly fearless actually handle fear with heroism. Clark's thesis, embracing fear and working with it to discover cool under pressure, is a theme we have heard before. But Nerve is very readable, full of case studies that brim with the personalities of the subjects and of Clark himself. His humorous footnote at the bottom of one page, "Incidentally, most of what we know about the science of fear comes from tormenting rats," is indicative of his writing style.

As someone who is hit with a fair amount of anxiety, I have read numerous books on the subject, many dry, and few helpful. Clark's Nerve is not a bombshell cure for fear and anxiety, but rather an engaging look at the science, stories, and mechanisms behind fear and cool. His suggested reading list at the end probably holds more answers for dealing with one's own fear and anxiety, but Nerve is a good, easy read that stimulated the pleasure center of my brain.
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