A few years ago, David Borgenicht of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was a book producer. He found people who had book ideas that he liked and helped them find publishers. Then one day, he read an article that gave him an idea for his own book. From it, he and Philadelphia 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.
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The article that David Borgenicht was reading told people how they might safely land a small plane if the pilot passes out. It got Borgenicht thinking about other hair-raising situations in movies and TV shows.
Of course it's one thing for an action hero to break down a door, leap from a moving motorcycle into a car, or fend off a killer shark. But how would the ordinary, out-of-shape reader do it? How would he or she wrestle free from an alligator, survive if his parachute does not open, or escape from a mountain lion?
David Borgenicht and Joshua Piven got together to produce a pocket-sized book called The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook. In its first eight months, it sold more than 1 million copies and was reprinted 11 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, wrote Borgenicht and Piven, who are just ordinary physical specimens.
We should note that, despite its helpful tips, the book is sold in the HUMOR section in bookstores. For instance, 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. 1. Don't antagonize the bull. 2. Do not move. 3. Look for an escape route. 4. If one is not available, remove an article of clothing, such as your shirt. 5. 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, including how to survive while traveling and how to survive in college. They are published by Chronicle Books.
Read more of Ted's personal reflections and stories from the road on his blog, Ted Landphair's America.