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

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Which is the safest seat on an airplane? Where is the best place to have a heart attack? Why does religious observance add years to your life? How can birthdays be hazardous to your health?


Each second of the day, someone in America faces a crisis, whether it's a car accident, violent crime, serious illness, or financial trouble. Given the inevitability of adversity, we all wonder: Who beats the odds and who surrenders? Why do some people bound back and others give up? How can I become the kind of person who survives and thrives?

The fascinating, hopeful answers to these questions are found in THE SURVIVORS CLUB. In the tradition of Freakonomics and The Tipping Point, this book reveals the hidden side of survival by combining astonishing true stories, gripping scientific research, and the author's adventures inside the U.S. military's elite survival schools and the government's airplane crash evacuation course.

With THE SURVIVORS CLUB, you can alsodiscover your own Survivor IQ through a powerful Internet-based test called the Survivor Profiler. Developed exclusively for this book, the test analyzes your personality and generates a customized report on your top survivor strengths.

There is no escaping life's inevitable struggles. But THE SURVIVORS CLUB can give you an edge when adversity strikes.

Customer Reviews:

  • Good premiss but misses the target.
    This book does little but state the obvious. Bottom line: stay calm in a crisis and hope you get lucky. ...more info
  • The Survivors Club book review
    Fascinating book. Heard the author on a National Public Radio program and was intrigued to get/read his book. I am a career military veteran (fighter pilot) with significant survival training and found this book: (1) an easy read; (2) compelling in its practical lessons to be learned; (3) a primer for anyone about to take an airplane flight, an extended drive, or finds oneself in the Emergency Room (victim or family member). Though many anecdotes of the author's research deal with severe physical tragedies many experienced and survived, the mental aspects of survival are not to be overlooked. When this book is read from that perspective, the chapters are instructive to develop mental plans for potential future shocks which inevitably will come in life, professionally and personally. This is a quality book and well worth the read--highly recommended....more info
  • A Great "Management" Book
    The Survivor's Club can be read as a compelling and relevant management survival tome; particularly in today's downsized economy. As a worker in the world of human resources, I am constantly looking for non-business related books that will give me valuable insight. I have learned through the years that our best `business lessons' come from outside the managerial world. This book is a stark example of this.

    The book really begin to hit home for me when I read chapter two: The Statues in the Storm. This is a no-brainer relationship to the business arena. The lessons learned in this one chapter is worth the price of the book.

    In addition, I will now be encouraging others to take the online survivor test. I believe it can provide a actionable and true look into the areas of careers that we need to work on in order to survive.

    Yes, luck plays a large part. But then again, keeping abreast of current methodologies, an updated resume and maintaining a wide network of associates can be the difference between an expanding career (life) or shoveling fries at a fast-food joint (death).

    I hope you find this review helpful.

    Michael L. Gooch, SPHR
    ...more info
  • Decent Book
    A pretty good book overall, but the sections about the Holocaust and Religion seemed to drag on a bit. There is some useful information here and some interesting stories, but the booked lacked depth IMHO....more info
  • A little deceptive
    Well written, but too much religious emphasis. Supposed to be an analysis of the reasons that survivors make it thru an ordeal and what the reader can do to improve his/her odds of doing the same. Amazing survival stories are sometimes attibuted to "the Lord" or to prayer. Come on....more info
  • Nothing new here.
    This book is pretty much what you would expect from a journalist who thought up an interesting topic, did a quick cursory review of a few studies, and wrote it up as if his resulting speculations had any significance. To take just one example, consider his analysis of whether prayer has any effect. He cites one tiny, poorly designed study that says it does, then cites a huge, well-designed study that says it does not, and throws up his hands and says the studies disagree, so who knows? I suppose one could attribute his total lack of understanding regarding how to evaluate research to the fact that he is simply a writer with no background or training in statistics, research, or science. After his cursory, brief, and totally inadequate look at the facts, he spends pages describing the beliefs of people who "don't need science, because they just know prayer works" (p. 150). He says the faithful don't require empirical evidence. In other words, don't confuse me with the facts. If prayer really worked, why would anyone need medical attention? If these supposed "believers" really believe in the power of prayer, why do they also do all they can to get medical attention? And yet the author of this book decides to join the know-nothings and pray more. So his advice if you are in a plane crash, etc. is that you should pray. If that's the best advice the author can come up with, god help us all....more info
    Most of us have often read a news story and thought , "How in the world did he do it?" How did someone survive an almost fatal accident? How could someone pick herself back up after a devastating emotional blow and not only go on living but do so happily, creatively? The best name for those who overcome apparently unsurmountable obstacles is survivors, and this book is full of their stories as well as advice on how we can overcome if , or better said when the need arises.

    A former executive producer of ABC's Good Morning America and the author of two novels, Ben Sherwood explains that there are two questions at the heart of his book, "(1) What does it really take to survive? And (2) What kind of survivor are you?" Few amongst us do not want to know the answers to those questions.

    Try to imagine the worst possible scenario - would it be "a woman doused with gasoline and set on fire by her husband"? How about being run over by a 21 ton truck or living through the attack on Pearl Harbor? " Sherwood has interviewed hundreds who not only endured crises but triumphed over them. There is much to learn from survivors who tell us what they wish they had known before they looked in the face of death.

    The author shares some very simple things that we can do to increase our years, such as choosing the safest seat in an airplane, the best place to have a heart attack, and realizing why birthdays and holidays are as beneficial as we'd like to think. Personally, I wanted to learn the secrets of the French woman who smoked cigarettes and ate chocolate every day yet lived to the estimable age of 122.

    Also included in the book is an access code to an Internet based Survivor Profile Test. It takes about 15 minutes, and you may be surprised at what you learn about yourself.

    While many of us don't consider ourselves joiners there is one group we'd all like to be in and that's The Survivors Club.

    - Gail Cooke...more info
  • Survivor's Club anyone can join.
    Excellent book. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has ever wondered how they would react in an emergency such as a plane crash, car wreck, fires, etc. This book gives you tools to help you survive. Mr. Sherwood explains why, in an emergency, most of us don't know how to react, so we do nothing. Seconds count in an emergency, so we need to act quickly but we also need to act correctly.

    Emergency drills and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) have helped me as a nurse practitioner, learn to respond to emergencies more calmly and correctly. Practicing helps our brains to go into an automatic rescue mode instead of panic. That is the heart of the lesson Mr. Sherwood teaches here.

    ...more info
  • Very Interesting and Helpful
    I found this book very engaging and helpful in exploring survival in impossible circumstances. It does not contain nor does it pretend to possess all of the science or information one might want on the topic. It definitely helped me to better understand some of the stories related to me by others I have known who did go through similar experiences and survived (Some in combat, many others in industry or just daily living). ...more info
  • I loved this book!
    This book gives an interesting look in different survivor situations. It is not all statistics. I kept a notebook nearby just to write down some of the useful information. From now on I count my rows to the exit on the airplane. ...more info
  • Very good book, informative

    I read the book in a very short period of time. It is very well-written and very informative. It gives a thorough insight in the psychology of any human being, be it a survivor or not. It will help anyone understand his strenght and weakness and thereby try to improve his/her life.

    The test at the end of the book is very helpful. Every one should take it. For me, it turned out that I am a believer. I am and was a believer all my life but this test came to assure me about my style and approach in life....more info
    I almost died during brain tumor surgery on February 13, 2003... and as of the writing of this review... I am not only eleven days from the six-year-anniversary of my blessed... yet near tragic event... but I am also two days away from my now yearly (originally it was twice a year) brain MRI... to make sure the tumor isn't coming back. So it is not from a balcony seat... that I review the subject matter of this book... I am absolutely in the front row! When I started to read this book... I approached it from two different viewpoints... one was with great enthusiasm... since no one on this earth that knows me... would not agree that I am a member of the Survivors Club... because as I say every day of my blessed life... I "AM" a brain tumor SURVIVOR... and EVERY DAY IS A GIFT...there are even some people who have called me the miracle man... so the first viewpoint is... did the author get it right? Since my surgery...I've tried to help anyone facing what I did... with my personal experience... in retrospect... I would have given anything... to have had someone share their experience with me... before my surgery. So I did not want this author to tell readers something that was not accurate. The second viewpoint I approached this book with... was... curiosity... was it just my unique makeup as a lifetime "fighter"... that made me attack the "hand" that life dealt me... or did other people react similarly?

    The author details all different types of personalities and character traits... ranging from "fighters" to "believers" to "connectors" to "thinkers" to "realists"... and combinations of multiple types. There are people who won't face reality... people who give up to booze... drugs... suicide. This book covers a gamut that's hard to fathom... from a mother who falls on a knitting needle and pierces her heart... a man who falls off a pleasure cruise ship into the dark ocean... prisoners of war... a woman attacked at random with acid... a jet pilot crashing... a suicide jumper off the Golden Gate Bridge... passenger plane crashes... and more.


    Let me share with you my belief. I always had faith that there was a G-d... but I don't believe you sell religion door to door. If someone comes to me about my faith... I share it. My family doctor... who found my tumor had been my family doctor for eighteen years... and religion was never mentioned. When he called me in to tell me I had a large tumor and needed surgery very quickly... he asked me if I believed in prayer... I said yes... he said do you mind if I pray for you? I said I don't mind... he held my hand and prayed to the Lord for my recovery. I was sent to a neurosurgeon... and he said he couldn't operate on me. He said he couldn't tell if the tumor was "leaning" against my brain... or growing out of my brain. He said there's only one Doctor that he knew of that could possibly do the surgery... and he had no idea if he would take me... since he was the head of UCSF neurosurgery... and gave speeches all over the country... he would simply call and leave him a message. I waited an excruciating two weeks... before I got an appointment to see the Doctor... he said I needed the surgery quickly... and he would do it. Weeks later I was told by my son... that my four hour surgery... took over eight hours... the Doctor told him that when they removed the tumor... there was a "stump" under it... that wasn't visible in any of the MRI's... and when they removed that... there was massive bleeding in the brain. I knew none of this until three weeks later. I then went to my family doctor to thank him for his prayers... and when I told him what I had just learned... he said... I know... I'm friends with one of the doctors who assisted... and he said if you would have had any other doctor... but the one you had... you would have died!

    This is a captivating book... it only loses traction a few times... such as when it goes into "positive" and "negative" initials... having an effect on your longevity. As an example if you have initials such as: PIG FAT RAT BUM... you'll have a shorter life... than if you have initials like ACE WIN WOW VIP. But putting that aside... this is an informative... and inspirational book.

    P.S. Perhaps the most heartfelt... emotional... part of the book to me... is when the author describes that person that we survivor's have to have in our life... to lean on... to count on... to cry with... or we never could have made it... that person in my life... was my then twenty-two-year-old son Justin. The author gives them the title of **CO-SURVIVOR**... and that is the most earned... disserved... hallowed... title... imaginable! I don't think I'd be in the Survivor's Club... if it wasn't for my son!
    ...more info
  • Awesome book
    The Survivor's Club is fun and exciting read, with a message. Keeping your eyes peeled and being ready is half the battle. I even used some of the principles of this book to be smart and to keep safe after an accident--right in line with my survivor profile. This book, and the website and the quiz are really great, and truly fascinating. Thanks for doing this, Ben!!!...more info
  • Interesting book. Some good information.
    Overall this is a pretty good book. While I enjoyed it, there is not as much "science" as you would think. I also think the author could have presented a greater variety of life threatening survival scenarios. This will be a good book to reference occasionally to refresh the memory of all of the "tips". ...more info
  • Live Longer!
    In America, life expectancy is 78.14 years. If you would like to live longer, read this compelling self-help book. It's loaded with detailed research material and anecdotal tips on surviving--what to do when: being impaled with a foreign object, finding yourself lost in the woods, experiencing an airplane crash, having a heart attack, or making a trip to the ER.

    Many topics are covered with proof that they help people live: the power of prayer, managing fear, the will to live, and having good genes. Adversity can work to make people appreciate life and have a better perspective. Daily joy can be experienced after a traumatic episode.

    Offered are such informative chapters as: The Survivor Profile, Your Survivor IQ, and Your Survivor Tool Kit. I suggest using this volume as a resource tool. Though it is interesting enough to be read straight through, I want to keep it around to refer to often....more info
  • A fascinating book that kept me interested throughout
    This book is just amazing to read. From the opening pages I was hooked. It's well-written and offers great insight into the topic of why some people are survivors in a myriad of situations while others are not.

    We humans often think that fate determines the outcome, but as this book illustrates, it is quite possible our own situational awareness of a scenario can provide the crucial difference as to whether we survive or not. In other words, you can learn to be a survivor and this is a great revelation.

    I loved reading this book and also enjoyed taking the online quiz that indicates your survivor rating....more info
  • Read This Book if You Want to Live
    If you plan to live forever, like I do, you must read The Survivors Club. While the book does not impart the secret to immortality, it does tell you who survives and who doesn't in life-threatening situations, and what you can do to make it more likely you are one of the "lucky" ones. In fact, this book also demystifies luck and explores the element of faith in survival as well. If you're looking for a fun, interesting read with tips on how to get out of some of life's major jams, you have to check out this book. Read it now, BEFORE you need it!...more info
  • How to Survive
    The book is a literal manual for surviving through
    great difficulties. The abbreviation "SERE" stands for
    survival, evasion, risk and escape as ways to pull through
    a seemingly impossible set of circumstances. For instance,
    the survival of an air emergency is cited as an example.
    The author tells us to memorize the emergency exits of the
    flight. The safest place is in the rear of the plane.
    Survivors are by and large 5 rows from the exit.
    A person named Vesna fell 6 miles and lived.

    There are 5 main survivor types or personalities; namely,
    the fighter, believer, connector, thinker and eternal realist.
    The connector will attempt to overcome adversity through
    a complicated series of relationships and interconnectedness.

    Ingenuity is compared to a flow instinct where the person
    moves forward all the time like water which flows to its source.
    People may adapt through resilience, faith, hope, purpose,
    tenacity, love, empathy, intelligence and ingenuity described

    Lastly, the website "thesurvivors club . org " is designed
    to provide more information on this subject.

    Dr. Joseph S. Maresca...more info
  • Survivors Club
    As a Pilot, I am always collecting and comparing procedures and ideas. This is great resource for all who fly. ...more info
  • Misleading Subtitle
    This book is little more than a string of feel-good anecdotes that are occasionally, but rarely, stitched together with a little science. More often than not, faith in god and miracles is given precedence over information gleaned from scientific research.

    Sherwood candidly admits his own belief that many survivors' tales are the result of godly intervention, and he offers up page after page of anecdotal evidence for this assertion. But when it comes time to deal with the science of survival, Sherwood is quite dismissive of facts that undermine his beliefs. He will admit, for instance, that peer-reviewed, double-blind studies have found no evidence that prayer affects the recovery of hospital patients, but he does so in a single sentence at the end of a half a dozen anecdotal tales attesting to effectiveness of prayer. And even then he downplays the significance of the studies by saying only that they "seem" to show that prayer has no effect.

    Sherwood also demonstrates that he doesn't understand statistics. On p.134 he tries to prove that faith in god is a key factor in survival by stating that as many as 75 or 80% of catastrophe survivors cite a higher power as a reason for their survival. He seems naively unaware that at least 75 or 80% of all human beings believe in a god that takes a hand in their daily lives. His statistic, therefore, proves the opposite of what he intends. Survivors are, in fact, no more likely than any other randomly selected group of people to cite god as a reason for their survival.

    My advice to Mr. Sherwood is that he remove the word "science" from the subtitle of his book. My advice to readers seeking reliable information on survival is to skip The Survivor's Club and read either Deep Survival by Lawrence Gonzalez or The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley. Both are excellent....more info
  • You'll Feel a Surge of Confidence!
    If you are just curious about why some people are so "tough" and can endure such arduous circumstances, there's plenty to entertain you. However, if what you are seeking is the kind of knowledge that will allow you and your loved ones to walk around with an increased sense of confidence in your ability to handle what life throws your way, then this book is a must have!...more info
  • Few rewards
    Contains some interesting anecdotes, but no revelations and very little science. What it boils down to is faith in god, blind luck, and it helps (in some cases) to be a male. Getting to know the survivors and what they went through is the only real reward here....more info
  • Can't Stop Talking About This Book
    People become statues in an emergency and don't think it can happen to them. This book proves bad things can happen to good people and the interviews with survivors are spectacular.

    I have learned how to fly safely and what to do if I get lost in the woods.

    I was amazed at how wearing the right pair of shoes can change outcomes.

    You will learn 10 ways to be resilient.

    Fascinating topics are the smell of fear, mind triumphing over body and will to live studies.

    I've always thought what you named your child was the most important decision in your life. He cites a fascinating study on monograms and whether they are a source of pride or self esteem or suicide and accidents.

    This book is an absolute must; you won't be able to stop talking to others about it.

    ...more info
    A book worth turning the pages. Not only is this a great read, but the stories are about real survivors. Everyday people like you and me, which shows us that being a survivor goes beyound just sheer luck,
    Well worth your money and the time to read....more info
  • Life Saver
    When I heard about this book I immediately ordered it. I wa not dissapointed in its contents. The Survivors Club gave insight on what can happen in the blink of an eye. I do alot of travelling, though I do pay attention to the tv screen on the safety features of the plane, I never read the card, somethiing I will difinetely do now. I will also be more aware of what's around me. The Surviors Club is a must read book....more info
  • Interesting spin
    I found this book written in an interesting manner. The stories were real, rare, and honest. I think he did a good job taking all the different thoughts and theories on surviving explaining them and condensing them into this book. ...more info
  • I was captivated!!
    We all face difficult situations, but some people are resilient and some are not. Who is able to come out of tragedy or overcome a circumstance and survive? Survivors. Ben Sherwood describes survivors as those making the best of their remaining days no matter if it is 50 years after the situation or 3 days. They are overcomers, people who move on, walk forward with head held high. Sherwood interviews people who have overcome all different types of struggles, and obstacles and whom he considers to be survivors. At the end of the book the reader has the opportunity to see if he/she is a survivor and what are the strengths that she/he relies on to make it through tough times.

    I LOVED this book. There is so much about The Survivors Club that appealed to me. It resolves mystery, gives explanations of ways the mind works, and brings psychology to the forefront of the study. I have always (well since Highschool) been interested why people survive when others don't. Some people go through hard times over and over and they aren't any worse for the ware, then other people seem to hit a slight speed bump and their whole world goes out the window. What is the difference between the two? How can someone survive the holocaust and then another person cannot cope with the death of a pet? The Survivors Club argues that it depends on resiliency, and if you are a survivor and good at coping or if you aren't. The most effective survivors reach deep within themselves and find the strength to live through it, whatever the 'it' may be.

    I was captivated by each section and chapter of this book. At the end there is a survivor IQ test which is available for the reader to take online, I took it and it was an incredible portrayal of who I am. I had my husband look at it and he agreed that it was very accurate. If you reach the end and take the test and the results come back that you are not a survivor, there are things that you can do to learn how to start becoming one.

    ...more info
  • Run--do not walk--to your wallet or library card and get this book!
    I read this book in less than 24 hours because I couldn't put it down! It spoke to me on so many levels; fascinating stories, esoteric information which may save your life (or make you a hit at the next cocktail party) and vivid examples of everyday people faced with horrendous circumstances who, not only survive, but thrive, afterwards. Not your usual "little guy wins over incredible odds" stories. You will never look at your surroundings the same way after reading The Survivors Club. Cool website, too--you can take a free profile test to see what kind of survivor you are. I will be talking about this book for a very long time....more info
  • Interesting & accurate
    The majority of The Survivors Club features case studies of survivors, statistics and scientific data, and practical advice. It had the potential to feel very dry, but the case studies helped to keep the book moving along. The ones I found particularly fascinating were the woman who ended up with a knitting needle in her heart, the woman who lost most of her skin when someone threw acid from a freeway overpass, the ballerina who danced for her life during the Holocaust, and the Central Park Jogger. The second portion of the book is about your specific survivor type. The book will give you a code & url to take the long Survivor Type quiz. I took it, and I am a Connector. The last portion of the book features information and specific cases for each of the five types (Connector, Realist, Thinker, Fighter, Believer). The Survivors Club was an interesting and informative read....more info
  • The Survivors Club
    I couldn't stop reading The Survivors Club! The author, Ben Sherwood, had me reliving each survivors experience. I found information from the survivor interviews, the author's personal experience at military training centers along with the scientific research very informative. This book has me thinking even more about my surroundings and the safety tactics I need to get out of a bad situation. I want to be prepared to survive anything life throws at me. I'll be reading this book again....more info
  • Chapter Six Almost Ruins This Book
    Sherwood has written a decent book but the chapter on prayer and faith left me cold. As another reviewer has pointed out, the author gives lip service to studies that show that faith and prayer have no effect whatsoever on survival situations but then goes on to quote believers right and left. And then includes two examples of rank superstition...sacred dirt from New Mexico and a snowmobile God helmet with magnets inside(Don't ask). I was ready to throw the book out the window after Chapter Six.

    The book has nothing about faith and prayer on the cover...and the subtitle reads "The Secrets and Science that could save your life." Sherwood leaves "Science" behind in all of Chapter Six and most of Chapter Seven.

    But overall "The Survivors Club" is a thought provoking book with some handy tips. (I would give it two and a half stars)...more info
  • Interesting and Well Written
    From Loren Keim, author of How to Sell Your Home in Any Market: 6 Reasons Why Your Home Isn't Selling... and What You Can Do to Fix Them:

    A solid read, this book outlines what makes survivors survive. The topic is interesting, the book is well written and holds your attention....more info
  • Great idea, sometimes cursory coverage, and thin/anecdotal evidence
    Who wouldn't want to learn how to better survive robbery, rape, near-fatal accidents, etc.? By survive, I mean, of course, not just survive physically, but survive and even thrive mentally.

    Of course, some people DO survive horrific accidents, both physically and mentally. Or many assaults.

    So, Ben Sherwood has a great idea.

    Unfortunately, from the start, he downplays the element of luck. Luck not in the sense of something mysteriously metaphysical, but in that of pure, dumb random chance.

    Take the Czech stewardess who fell more than 30,000 feet after an airplane exploded. Pure dumb luck she was where she was at in the cabin when the plane blew up.

    Second, Sherwood pushes the envelope on faith, such as skirting past studies that show intercessory prayer doesn't work. Yet, he keeps coming back to the power of faith.

    The power of faith as psychology, of that I have no doubt. But, Sherwood doesn't even look at whether or not that psychological power can be developed from other sources.

    And, on the flip side, he doesn't even look for atheist or agnostic survivors, like a certain book reviewer who got lost in August heat in backcountry of Canyonlands National Park.

    I don't think this is quite a two-star book, as in, it's not quite that bad. It's thought-provoking, hopeful and supportive, but it could have been much more....more info
  • Know this: Glenn Beck loved this book
    Fox News' talking head Glenn Beck raved about this book; it grinds some of Beck's favorite axes. If you're a Beck fan, by all means order your copy now! If not... DON'T....more info


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