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by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht
Chronicle Books, 1999
Review by Liz Bass on Jul 5th 2002

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook

Authors Piven and Borgenicht suggest that readers keep this book in their glove compartments in order to be prepared for the unforeseen. Thats not a bad idea, but I think the book would be more useful in a bathroom reading basket or in the kitchen near the cereal boxes. Under certain circumstances, a coffee table would work too. The information in Worst-Case cannot be absorbed by a quick read, so having it stowed away with your Operators Manual may not be all that helpful in an emergency. This is a book you would have to read and then re-read many times before you could qualify as the "go-to" person when a case worsens.

A section in this handbook explains how to leap from a moving motorcycle to a moving car.  It occurred to me as I read it that not only would your timing have to be impeccable for such a maneuver, but you would have to be living your life much differently than I do to consider it a "worst-case scenario." For me, that would be more like a "no case scenario."

Here are some other sections in which you may be interested: 1) How to Survive a Poisonous Snake Attack, 2) How to Escape From Killer Bees, 3) How to Treat a Leg Fracture, and 4) How to Survive If You Are In The Line of Gunfire. I must say I found it sad that someone thought that type of gun safety information should be included.

Of value to niche players are sections like these: 1) How to Get to the Surface If Your Scuba Tank Runs Out Of Air, 2) How to Break Into a Car, 3) How to Escape from Quicksand, and 4) How to Jump From a Bridge or Cliff Into a River.

Who would want to read the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook? Most likely it is directed toward the same adolescent males for whom the blockbuster action movies are produced. Those of us who are not adolescent males need a different book to study. We are also trying to survive, but we usually go about it in ways that dont require too much jumping, running, wrestling alligators, parachuting out of planes, and even trying to land them when the pilot gets sick.

I hope that some ideas in The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook take residence in the minds of its readers and that lives are saved as a consequence. If that happened, it would more than justify the existence of a book like this. I must say it is not going to find a place on my coffee table, or in my bathroom, kitchen, or glove compartment. I think I can risk its absence. But who knows? Maybe it will be my life that is saved some day by one of its readers.

Stranger things have happened in this dog-eat-dog world.


© 2002 Liz Bass


Liz Bass is a retired teacher and principal who lives in Northern California.

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