March 11th, 2009

reading

Recent Reading: The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley

This book is getting a lot of attention in emergency preparedness circles, but it's really written for a lay audience and she is a journalist and has an easy-to-read, Time Magazine-ish style. The author interviewed survivors of 9/11, Katrina, a variety of hostage situations, plane crashes etc. as well as investigating stories of some who did not survive. It is chock full of simple, common-sense things people can do to improve their chances of surviving large scale disasters or smaller tragedies (like car accidents and fires), as well as ideas for policy
changes.
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I got the book from my library with not much notice - I imagine most libraries have it. One minor warning: I think they rushed it into print, since it's poorly edited. There were a number of small errors of fact (probably more than I knew, but I spotted the ones about 9/11. I find any time I read a journalist's account of an event I was at or a subject I know a lot about I find a bunch of errors, which makes me doubt, at least briefly, the stuff I read in the paper and believe since I don't know anything about it). Also the index had the wrong pages in a few cases, which again evidences poor editing. If you can overlook that failing it's both a really interesting read and a worthwhile one.