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Review: The Survivors Club

February 28, 2009


In The Survivors Club, Ben Sherwood says, “The first rule of this book is that everyone is destined to become a survivor.  Like it or not, that’s life.”  Throughout the book, he tells incredible stories of ordinary people who have survived under extraordinary circumstances.  Some of them are plucked straight from the headlines – the Central Park jogger, the woman who was mauled by a mountain lion while mountain biking – and some of them could be your next door neighbor – a cancer survivor or a war veteran.  I found these stories to be fascinating and inspiring.  I was amazed at how many of the survivors said they would go through the trauma all over again to get where they are today.  I wondered how I would react to some of the same situations.

Early in the book, he gives tips on surviving a plane crash.  Some of them are:

  • Sit in an aisle seat – it’s easier to get out that way.
  • Dress properly – no sandals or tank tops.
  • Don’t drink alcohol or take a sleeping pill prior to flying.
  • Count the number of rows from your seat to the exit so you can escape by feel.

I found these tips useful and will think about them the next time I fly.

After that, the book seemed to veer more into the psychological aspects of survival.  He writes about the affects of optimism (which he says can be learned), religion, intercessory prayer, intelligence, luck and even your initials on survival.

There is a quiz you can take on The Survivors Club website to find out what type of survivor you are.  (There’s a short quiz that’s free – the more detailed quiz requires the purchase of the book.)  On that site you can also share your survivor story or join a support group.

I was expecting the whole book to be like the plane crash chapter.  I thought I would learn the best place to be in case of a tornado, defensive driving tips, how to find clean drinking water in the woods, etc.  Overall, I was disappointed in the book because it didn’t meet my expectations.  If you enjoy psychology, you will probably enjoy this book more than I did.

Ben Sherwood was the executive producer of Good Morning America for two and a half years.  He has written two works of fiction.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books.

23 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2009 7:42 am

    I actually had figured a few of those flying tips before. I used to get all comfy before take off, removing my shoes and even going to sleep…but no more. I like to be alert during takeoffs and landings..including counting the rows to the exits.
    Glad to know I am not just nuts…

    I have the audio of this one and am looking forward to it!

  2. February 28, 2009 8:36 am

    I always pick the aisle because I like to be able to stand up as soon as possible. Now I realize just how smart I am. I’ll start counting aisles next. Hopefully I won’t be flying for a while. I’ve been on too many trips recently.

  3. February 28, 2009 8:45 am

    While it wasn’t your favorite read, it does sound like you took away some good things from this book!

  4. February 28, 2009 8:46 am

    Nice and honest review. This type of book is not really my kind of thing, but I appreciate your sharing the flying tips.

  5. February 28, 2009 9:00 am

    interesting! thanks for the review .The Survivor’s Club looks like a thought-provoking read.

  6. February 28, 2009 10:09 am

    It sounds interesting. I have a hard time flying, so tips like these will make me feel more in control next time!

  7. February 28, 2009 10:16 am

    I always choose an aisle seat because I’ve been trapped between the window and an obese person one too many times on long haul flights. And they always FALL ASLEEP!

  8. February 28, 2009 12:36 pm

    I went to the website and took the free quiz. I wasn’t surprised to find that I’m a “realist” survivor.

  9. February 28, 2009 1:30 pm

    This is interesting but I think it might make me paranoid! Nice review though!

  10. Lisa permalink
    February 28, 2009 2:46 pm

    I think this is something I’d be excited about and then disappointed.

  11. February 28, 2009 4:32 pm

    I scanned your review as I am listening to the book now along with my husband. I am finding the book fascinating so far. I like books like this.

  12. February 28, 2009 4:35 pm

    Great review. Stories of survival are always so fascinating.

  13. February 28, 2009 5:53 pm

    I’ve really been enjoying this audiobook, but I do like the psychological aspect of it, and all of the survival stories.

  14. February 28, 2009 6:26 pm

    It’s possible I’m going to die in a plane crash because I can’t bear aisle seats. How interesting!

    As to the best place to be in the event of a tornado . . . as close to the center of your home as possible. A closet or hallway closest to the middle of the house is best. Worst place to be is near an exterior wall. I went to pick my son up from school in the midst of a tornado warning, one time (as I was returning from out-of-town), and they had the kids lined up with their back to an exterior wall. After the warning ended, I went straight to the principal and told her the lives of those children were endangered and that had better not ever happen, again. I didn’t shut up till she backed down and said she would discuss correct procedure with the proper authorities. And, yep, it never happened again. They changed their procedure, post haste. I spent a lot of time in hallways and closets, as a kid, since I’m from Oklahoma.

  15. February 28, 2009 11:15 pm

    If available, I take the aisle seat. Sometimes I count rows, but not often. I am more aware of it since the latest string of crashes, though. I flew last week. We hit an air pocket that made everybody on the plane grab the seat in front of them. Then the landing was unusually hard. I wondered if there was a trainee practicing.

  16. March 1, 2009 4:30 am

    Yeah, I’d probably like what you were looking for in the story a whole lot more than what is presented even if it does sound kind of neat.

  17. March 1, 2009 4:57 pm

    I am scared to fly so reading this would likely make me even more paranoid. It doesn’t sound like a read for me.

    • March 1, 2009 5:05 pm

      Actually, it might not. The book also tells you that your chances of dying in a plane crash are extremely small.

  18. MeMe permalink
    March 1, 2009 6:25 pm

    Kathy This is the blog i really needed right now…….
    Thanks a lot…………………….

  19. March 1, 2009 8:29 pm

    As a huge fan of real-life survival situation books, I think I would be interested in this. Plus I figure it can never hurt to have some information like this. But I guess I would expect the same as you — some practical tips on surviving various situations. It kind of calls to mind a book I read a while ago about what it would be like to die certain ways — drowning, freezing, overheating, earthquake. Each chapter was a different way to die and described what happens to you and your body. Fascinating stuff … if a little morbid. But you did kind of learn what to do and not do in the situations. The exact name of the books escapes but I could look it up if it is something that interests you.

  20. Kim permalink
    March 2, 2009 3:26 pm

    One fact I learned from a plane crash survivor: never wear nylons on a plane (including knee highs), they melt into your skin. Not a lovely thought, but good to know.

  21. March 4, 2009 7:49 am

    Good to know, especially since I’m terrified of flying and I’ll be doing so for only the second time in my entire life on Friday the 13th. Just a matter of days really. I think my husband was on crack when he bought those tickets.

  22. March 4, 2009 7:48 pm

    Well, since I already worry too much about things like plane crashes, this might stress me out even more.

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