No Mercy: True Stories of Disaster, Survival and Brutality by Eleanor Learmonth & Jenny Tabakoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Paperback, 272 pages
Published July 24th 2013 by The Text Publishing Company
Epically fascinating. The authors take a look at the group dynamics of (mostly) men who meet disaster and the neurological factors that play an important role into whether the group will survive or not. Starting off with "The Lord of the Flies Principle" and the "Robber's Cave Experiment" as examples of group survival decay they examine several shipwrecks from the 1700s and 1800s which all had atrocious survivor rates except one which had 100% success. They discuss how our brain reacts in these situations, typical feelings and almost always shared situations and problems. While discussing these topics many other survivor disasters are referenced, sometimes in full, as well. So while the book is very heavy on shipwrecks others are regularly mentioned such as the Andes Mountain Flight Disaster in '73 and the 2010 Chilean Miner Rescue. I found the book absolutely fascinating and unique. It's about 50/50 history of the disaster vs neurology/psychology of the brain and group dynamics. Topics covered are fear, panic, alcohol, leadership, stupidity and inertia, race, suicide, cannibalism and murder to name a few. My only problem with the book is that it didn't seem to have a natural orderly organization, not chronological, not thematic. It went back and forth both in time and on themes and while the information held me engrossed forgiving this faux-pas, it would have been a much stronger treatise with a progressive order.