Review of “The Survivors Club” by Ben Sherwood

The Survivors Club takes you on a wild rollercoaster ride from one harrowing story to the next, featuring people who survived adversity against incredible odds. After each nail-biting escapade, the author summarizes the “secrets of survival” just exemplified. He aims to capture “the wisdom of people who improbably survived the abyss” and share it with his readers.

The tour of almost-fatal episodes includes being ejected from an airplane going 750 miles per hour, jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, getting attacked by a mountain lion, getting pierced in the heart by a knitting needle, beating cancer, and even surviving the Holocaust.

In each of these instances, Sherwood also brings to light relevant studies that have been conducted on similar situations, showing what factors might predispose one to thrive. He maintains we can all increase our own chances of surviving crises by following these rules.

A major section of his book focuses on the power of faith; many survivors claim it was a higher power that enabled their rescues. Sherwood handles this in a way bound not to offend anyone. Studies acknowledge the strength that faith imparts, and Sherwood maintains that it doesn’t really matter if it’s “true” or not; the point is that the belief itself facilitates surviving behaviors, like calmness, the ability to focus, the determination to fight for life, and the capacity to feel optimistic and hopeful.

Listening to this book was a bit like sitting around a campfire, with everyone telling scary survival stories in the dark. With each tale, you’re pushed to the edge of your seat in awe, but then it comes out okay. You can snuggle down with your blanket and hot chocolate and feel good again (at least until the next story).

I listened to the unabridged audiobook from Hachette Publishers, read by the author himself. I can’t imagine anyone else reading the book with such enthusiasm and passion. I highly recommend this book.

Published by Grand Central Publishing, 2009

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