The Gift of Fear

I have just read The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence by Gavin de Becker.

Like many self-help books it has a concept that can be described in a paragraph and explained in a few pages. The rest of the book shares anecdotes that help the reader understand the concept, but which are also interesting for people who get it from the first chapter. When I read the book I considered the majority of the content to be interesting stuff added to pad it out to book size because the concept seemed easy enough to get from the start, but from reading some of the reviews I get the impression that 375 pages of supporting material aren’t enough to convince some people – maybe this is something that you will either understand from the first few chapters or never understand at all.

Gavin’s writing is captivating, he has written a book about real violent crime in a style that is more readable than many detective novels, from the moment I finished the first chapter I spent all my spare time reading it.

I was a little disappointed at the lack of detailed statistics, but when someone has done all the statistical analysis chooses to provide the results in the form of anecdotes rather than statistics I’m prepared to tolerate that – especially when the anecdotes are so interesting. I spent quite a bit of time reading the Wikipedia pages relating to some of the people and incidents that are mentioned in this book.

The basic concepts of his book are to cease worrying about silly things like airline terrorists (passengers won’t surrender now so that’s not going to work again) and to instead take note of any real fear. For example if you are doing the same things you usually do but suddenly feel afraid then you should carefully consider what you might have subconsciously noticed that makes you feel afraid and what you can do about it. This isn’t going to change my behavior much as I have mostly been doing what the book recommends for a long time.

I think that everyone should read this book.

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