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Survival Guides Turn Nerds into Action Heroes

  • Ted Landphair

Great white shark bearing down on you? No worries, consult the "The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook."

Great white shark bearing down on you? No worries, consult the "The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook."

Books outline how to survive life-and-death situations

A few years ago, David Borgenicht, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was a book agent. Then one day, he read an article that gave him an idea for his own book.

He and a friend - magazine writer Joshua Piven - produced an instant best-seller that developed almost a cult following. It’s about life-and-death situations - and how to survive them.

The article that David Borgenicht was reading told people how they might safely land a small plane if the pilot passes out. It got him thinking about other hair-raising situations in movies and TV shows. Of course it’s one thing for an action hero to leap from a moving motorcycle into a car or fend off a killer shark.

You’re probably not likely to be chased by a grizzly bear. But if you are, wouldn’t it be a comfort to have read the manual on what to do?

You’re probably not likely to be chased by a grizzly bear. But if you are, wouldn’t it be a comfort to have read the manual on what to do?

But how would ordinary, out-of-shape readers do it? How would they wrestle free from an alligator, for example, or survive if their parachutes do not open, or escape from a mountain lion?

Borgenicht and Piven produced a pocket-sized book called The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook. In its first eight months, it sold more than one million copies and has been reprinted at least a dozen times.

Killer bees chasing you? Not a problem. Lost in the desert? Turn to Page 129. Need to build a fire but don’t have any matches? No sweat, write Borgenicht and Piven, who are themselves just ordinary physical specimens.

Other advice? If you find yourself on top of a moving train, here’s how to survive: don’t stand up.

And what if a bull is charging you? Not to worry, say the authors: don’t antagonize the bull; do not move; look for an escape route; if one is not available, remove an article of clothing, such as your shirt; throw the clothing away from you and run for your life in another direction.

Common sense, perhaps, but it could come in handy. The authors have since produced a whole series of guides, reality television shows, and calendars about surviving everything from traveling to college to a game of golf.

We should note that, despite the helpful tips, the Worst Case Survival books are sold in the humor section of bookstores.

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