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The Unthinkable

Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - And Why

By Amanda Ripley

It lurks in the corner of our imagination, almost beyond our ability to see it: the possibility that a tear in the fabric of life could open up without warning, upending a house, a skyscraper, or a civilization.

Today, nine out of ten Americans live in places at significant risk of earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorism, or other disasters. Tomorrow, some of us will have to make split-second choices to save ourselves and our families. How will we react? What will it feel like? Will we be heroes or victims? Will our upbringing, our gender, our personality–anything we’ve ever learned, thought, or dreamed of–ultimately matter?
Amanda Ripley, an award-winning journalist for Time magazine who has covered some of the most devastating disasters of our age, set out to discover what lies beyond fear and speculation. In this magnificent work of investigative journalism, Ripley retraces the human response to some of history’s epic disasters, from the explosion of the Mont Blanc munitions ship in 1917–one of the biggest explosions before the invention of the atomic bomb–to a plane crash in England in 1985 that mystified investigators for years, to the journeys of the 15,000 people who found their way out of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Then, to understand the science behind the stories, Ripley turns to leading brain scientists, trauma psychologists, and other disaster experts, formal and informal, from a Holocaust survivor who studies heroism to a master gunfighter who learned to overcome the effects of extreme fear.

Finally, Ripley steps into the dark corners of her own imagination, having her brain examined by military researchers and experiencing through realistic simulations what it might be like to survive a plane crash into the ocean or to escape a raging fire.
Ripley comes back with precious wisdom about the surprising humanity of crowds, the elegance of the brain’s fear circuits, and the stunning inadequacy of many of our evolutionary responses. Most unexpectedly, she discovers the brain’s ability to do much, much better, with just a little help.

The Unthinkable escorts us into the bleakest regions of our nightmares, flicks on a flashlight, and takes a steady look around. Then it leads us home, smarter and stronger than we were before.


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  • 155.935 Rip, Nonfiction



Format: Book
Author: Ripley, Amanda
Title: The unthinkable : who survives when disaster strikes - and why / Amanda Ripley.
Publisher Date: New York : Crown Publishers, c2008.
Subject: Resilience (Personality trait) Disasters -- Psychological aspects Disaster relief Preparedness Risk management Emergency management Crisis intervention (Mental health services) Disaster victims -- Mental health Disasters -- Risk assessment.
Isbn: 9780307352897 0307352897
Current Holds: 0
System Items Available: 1
System Items Total: 1
Call Number: 155.935 Rip
Oclc: 174040154
Bib Id: 297147

Format: Book
Author: Ripley, Amanda
Title: The unthinkable : who survives when disaster strikes - and why / Amanda Ripley.
Edition: 1st ed.
Publisher, Date: New York : Crown Publishers, c2008.
Description: xx, 266 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 25 cm.
Subjects: Resilience (Personality trait)
Subjects: Disasters -- Psychological aspects
Subjects: Disaster relief
Subjects: Preparedness
Subjects: Risk management
Subjects: Emergency management
Subjects: Crisis intervention (Mental health services)
Subjects: Disaster victims -- Mental health
Subjects: Disasters -- Risk assessment.
Notes: Includes bibliographical references (p. [249]-257) and index.
Contents: Denial -- Deliberation -- The decisive moment.
LCCN: 2007040315
ISBN: 9780307352897
ISBN: 0307352897
Requests: 0
Available Copies: 1
Total Copies: 1
Call Number: 155.935 Rip