Amanda Ripley

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The Unthinkable

Half of Americans have been affected by a disaster of some kind. In big disasters, regular people are the first and most important rescuers on the scene. But very few of us know what to expect until it is too late.

By combining the stories of survivors with research into how the brain works under extreme duress, The Unthinkable tries to bring light into civilization’s darkest moments. Why do we freeze in the middle of a fire? How can we override this instinct? Why do our senses of sight and hearing change during a terrorist attack? Why are most heroes men?

In this inspiring mix of narrative, science and participatory journalism, award-winning Time Magazine writer Amanda Ripley reveals how human fear circuits and crowd dynamics work, why our instincts sometimes misfire in modern calamities, and how we can do much, much better.

The Unthinkable was published in 15 countries including the United States, the UK, Brazil and China. A documentary based on the book, Surviving Disaster with Amanda Ripley, aired on PBS in 2012. The Unthinkable was selected by Hudson Booksellers as one of the Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2008.

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