Book Review - Deep Survival
Author - Laurence Gonzales.
I first heard of this book via a short review in Tactical Knives, a US
magazine, where it was very well received. Therefore when I stumbled
across it while browsing Amazon.co.uk I was primed to order a copy.
First of all, don't be put off by the title, it may sound a little hard core, but this couldn't be further from the truth. This is not a book of bushcraft techniques, nor even what most people would consider survival techniques. No shelter building, fire craft or tips on finding water. This book is all about the mind and how it works, the tricks that it can play when you are away from home, and the differences between the minds of those who survive and those who do not. Neurology and psychology at work in the great outdoors.
Though not headed as such, the book is split between two main topics. First it goes about describing how accidents happen, how easily people can get lost or caught out by circumstances, and how prior experience and success can work against you. Having set that scene it moves on to describing the key mental characteristics of survival, the stages that the mind must go through in order for the person to survive. The author uses numerous true stories to illustrate the behaviour that he is explaining.
One of the things I found particularly interesting was the author's explanation of "bending the map", when people who are lost disbelieve the evidence of their compass, their map, and even their own eyes when those things do not agree with what the person believes the world should look like. Having had this happened to me a couple of times and having seen it happen to someone else, it was eerie to see such a perfect description written down.
I would thoroughly recommend this book to everyone, not just those who enjoy bushcraft. Its lessons are relevant if you do nothing more adventurous than drive to work every day, though they are particularly applicable to those of us who love the outdoors.
Review by Chris Claycomb
Previously published 2006