Does being left-handed affect your mortality? Will a pilgrimage to Lourdes help if you’re ill? Can you actually be scared to death? You’d probably be surprised, ?and maybe alarmed, by the answers (yes, no, yes), and that’s what journalist Ben Sherwood intends in The Survivors Club — not to scare the crap out of? you, but to help you understand why some people live and others die in crisis situations.

Is the book science? Self-help? It’s a weird amalgam ?of the two, but somehow it works. Sherwood sought out survivors of all kinds of accidents — plane crashes, mountain lion attacks — and then found psychologists, ER physicians, and others who helped shed light on what had gone right for these people. The true-life stories are satisfying in a popcorny kind of way, but it’s the science that fascinates: why drinking a sugary beverage ?is better than a hot one if you’re freezing, why small children survive falls better than adults, and so on.

And just in case all this has you wondering, Would I come out of that midair balloon crash alive, with all my limbs functioning?, Sherwood has an answer for that, too. Readers can go online and take a survivor profile test (access codes are printed on the jacket of each book). I’ll admit that mesmerized as I am by Sherwood’s logic, I haven’t summoned up the courage to do that? just yet. In fact, I may never leave my house again. A?

The Survivors Club
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