Staff Picks

True Tales of Survival

The will to survive can push humans beyond the limits of what seems possible. All of these books tell the true stories of people in seemingly insurmountable circumstances, and yet they survived. From Antarctica to the Amazon, from the ocean to unimaginably deep caves enjoy these thrilling stories of those who survived against all odds.

Elizabeth
Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth     Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth    
James M. Tabor
    796.525 Tab

Tabor contrasts two sterling teams, one American and the other Russian, in their perilous search to locate the deepest supercave on earth. Among the dangers they face are deadly falls, killer microbes, sudden burial, asphyxiation, claustrophobia, anxiety, and hallucinations as they spend weeks far underneath the ground in a lightless world.

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why     Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why    
Laurence Gonzales
    613.69 Go

Why do some people survive disasters while others perish?  Renowned journalist Gonzales conducts an in-depth and engrossing inquiry into the dynamics of survival. Relating one hair-raising true story after another about wilderness adventures gone catastrophically wrong and other calamities, Gonzales draws on sources as diverse as philosophy and neuroscience to determine the psychological, physiological, and spiritual strengths that enable certain individuals to avoid fatal panic and make that crucial transition from victim to survivor.

Diving Into Darkness: A True Story of Death and Survival     Diving Into Darkness: A True Story of Death and Survival    
Phillip Finch
    627.72 Fin

In January 2005, extreme diver David Shaw entered Bushman’s Hole, a watery crater in the Kalahari Desert. Easing himself through a narrow fissure, he aimed himself at the bottom of the crater, roughly 900 feet below him, followed soon after by his diving partner. In less than an hour, one of the men was dead, and the other faced a harrowing 10-hour decompression, during which he scrambled for every breath.

Jungle: A Harrowing True Story of Survival     Jungle: A Harrowing True Story of Survival    
Yossi Ghinsberg
    918.4 Gh

Author Yossi Ghinsberg became acquainted with three backpackers in Bolivia, and they journeyed into the  Amazon rainforest together. But after a freak rafting accident, Ghinsberg was separated from his new companions and forced to survive with only a knife, a map, and his survival training. With his feet rotting due to the intense storms and insects and animals to contend with, this is his personal account of how he stayed alive in the rainforest.

Mawson's Will: The Greatest Polar Survival Story Ever Written     Mawson's Will: The Greatest Polar Survival Story Ever Written    
Lennard Bickel
    919.89 Bi

In 1911 Sir Douglas Mawson led a party to chart the Antarctic coastline. Six weeks and 320 miles out, one man fell into a crevasse, along with the tent, most of the equipment, and nearly all provisions. For weeks Mawson faced some of the most daunting conditions ever known to man: blistering wind, snow, and cold; loss of his dogs and the skin on his hands and the soles of his feet; thirst, starvation, disease, snowblindness - and he survived.

Running the Amazon     Running the Amazon    
Joe Kane
    918.1 Ka

A multinational party of 10 men and one woman set out to run the 4200 miles of the Amazon, from a snowfield in the Peruvian Andes to the Atlantic Ocean. Of the original 11, only four reached the sea, six months after the start. They encountered extremes of weather, altitude sickness, suicidal rapids, and armed guerrillas, among other dangers. This is a spine-tingling adventure narrative that leaves the reader eager to learn what next will befall these hapless travelers.

Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival     Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival    
Dean King
    916.48 Ki

Twelve American sailors were shipwrecked off the coast of Africa in 1815, captured by desert nomads, sold into slavery, and subjected to a hellish two-month journey through the bone-dry heart of the Sahara. The ordeal of these men - who found themselves tested by barbarism, murder, starvation, death, dehydration, and hostile tribes that roamed the desert on camelback - is made indelibly vivid in this gripping account of courage, brotherhood, and survival.

Ten Degrees of Reckoning: A True Story of a Family's Love and the Will to Survive     Ten Degrees of Reckoning: A True Story of a Family's Love and the Will to Survive    
Hester Rumberg
    910.9164 Rum

In 1993, Judith and Michael Sleavin and their two children set out to sail around the world. Three years into their incredible journey, a nearby freighter altered its course by a mere ten degrees, causing catastrophe. Judith, the sole survivor, spent forty-four hours in the icy water clinging to an overturned dinghy, her back broken and paralyzed below the waist, winding up in a small community on the New Zealand coast. Gripping, unbelievable yet true, Judith's story of courage, survival, and retribution is alternately heartrending and uplifting.

The Ledge : An Adventure Story of Friendship and Survival on Mount Rainier     The Ledge : An Adventure Story of Friendship and Survival on Mount Rainier    
Jim Davidson
    796.522 Dav

In June 1992, best friends Jim Davidson and Mike Price stood atop Washington’s Mount Rainier  when a cave-in plunged them deep inside a glacial crevasse. Davidson was trapped on a narrow frozen shelf, deep below daylight, desperately battling crumbling ice, snow that threatened to bury him alive, and crippling fear of the inescapable chasm below—all the while struggling to save his fatally injured friend.

Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man’s Miraculous Survival     Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man’s Miraculous Survival    
Joe Simpson
    796.52292 Simpson Sim

Joe Simpson and his climbing partner, Simon Yates, had just reached the top of a 21,000-foot peak in the Andes when Simpson plunged off the vertical face of an ice ledge, breaking his leg. As a blizzard raged Yates tried to lower his friend to safety but was forced to cut the rope, moments before he would have been pulled to his own death. Simpson survived and attempted to crawl to safety over three days.