SURVIVING THE EXTREMES: A Doctor's Journey to the Limits of Human Endurance

Kenneth Kamler, Author . St. Martin's $24.95 (324p) ISBN 978-0-312-28077-2

Ever since Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air , books about human survival have captured readers' imagination. Add this book to the list. Kamler is no office-room doctor, preferring to use his skills on survival missions. As he puts it in his prologue, "I practice medicine where I don't belong." He takes the reader along on his explorations—be they on the Amazon or on Mt. Everest. While on the former, he used his medical techniques to save locals; on the latter, he saved climbers, including some of those threatened during the ill-fated 1996 climb chronicled by Krakauer. But Kamler's book is far more than just a story of his own explorations. He uses his journey as a launching point for investigating the nature of survival. In a style reminiscent of Oliver Sacks, he details remarkable stories of human endurance in adverse conditions—adrift at sea in a raft, lost in an unknown desert—while simultaneously educating the reader in the science of survival. For Kamler, the secret lies in the brain, which provides the key to survival: "If the will is there, the brain initiates actions that are appropriate responses to the environmental stress." Even readers who aren't survivalists themselves will find their brains stimulated by Kamler's fluid writing and lively stories. (Jan. 20)

Reviewed on: 12/22/2003
Release date: 01/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-14-303451-3
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4299-7611-4
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