The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life


Ben Sherwood, a writer for the L.A. Times, put together his book “The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life” after speaking to survivors around the world. The people Sherwood interviewed for the book have survived an amazing and terrifying array of situations that could have easily been fatal. Survivors of a mountain lion attack, a Holocaust concentration camp, and a deadly plane crash shared their survival insight with Sherwood so he could put together a book on common traits of survivors.

Sherwood didn’t just talk to survivors themselves — he has put together a survivor’s guide based on the opinions of survival and medical experts. Since psychology and other intangibles often play a large part in a person’s survival, tips from psychologists and other scientists sprinkle “The Survivors Club”.

Ben Sherwood tackles the topic of survival by presenting common attributes of both survivors and victims, suggesting that people who go into what he calls “brain shock” in the face of danger are the most likely to die. According to Sherwood, “brain shock” is the body’s response to extreme danger wherein the brain basically “shuts down”.

<h4>What’s in the book?</h4>

“The Survivors Club” is peppered with insight on extending your life. Topics as diverse as the power of prayer, the will to live, dealing with your fear, and even the genetic component of survival are covered — not every survival situation entails a dangerous escape or last-minute rescue. Everyone should read Sherwood’s chapter “The Organ Recital: Who Lives and Dies in the ER” for tips on making sure you get adequate medical care in an emergency medical situation.

Broken up into two parts, fifteen chapters, and two appendices, “The Survivors Club” is meant to give you a step by step guide to living longer, even in the face of extreme adversity.

Some of what you learn from Sherwood could actually help you in specific survival situations. For instance, Sherwood tells us that you have on average just 90 seconds to leave a plane crash before the cabin temperature becomes too dangerous for survival. Sherwood also waxes philosophical about survivors in prison camps, noting that optimists tend to have a harder time of imprisonment while pessimists tend to accept their fate and survive far longer.

Some of the survival advice found in Sherwood’s book is obvious. Sherwood advises people who are lost in the woods to stay in the same place — that’s advice that any Boy Scout knows. Other obvious advice concerning survival situations includes “Do what you have to do” and “You’re stronger than you know.” When Sherwood isn’t dishing out these touchy-feely gems of survival advice, he spends a good deal of time profiling actual survivors and talking about the specific choices they made that saved their lives. Those sections are the strongest part of the book.

<h4>What’s it cost?</h4>

You can find Sherwood’s book for sale all over the place, from online book stores to camping and outdoor supplies stores. Prices online range from $3 to $15, depending on the store.

<h4>Overall rating</h4>

Because “The Survivors Club” is an entertaining read, and because it contains some statistics and facts about survival, it is impossible to give this book any less than a <b>3 out of 5</b>. But Sherwood could have made this book a combination “how to” for survival as well as what it already is — an investigation into the minds of survivors. With a few more facts to back up his stories, Sherwood could have written an invaluable book. Instead, we have not much more than a decent read.