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Cannonball Read 2 #30: The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

The full title of this book is The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence. Gavin de Becker is a world-renowned expert on violent behavior, and with this book he explains how we can protect ourselves from violence, no matter what direction it comes to us from.

De Becker's premise is that human intuition is a very powerful tool that modern humans have lost the ability to use effectively. We may feel the pricking of intuition, but we have been trained to ignore "gut feelings" or "hunches" and only believe in things we can see. We've spent our lives learning that we must have a good reason for feeling fear, and that feeling fear at an inappropriate time is rude, or politically incorrect. According to de Becker, if you are afraid or uncomfortable, you probably have a reason to be, and the first step you should take--instead of trying to convince yourself that nothing is wrong--is to try and discover what exactly is bothering you.

In his long career as a consultant, de Becker has worked on a variety of cases, and he shares many examples through the book of times when intuition was either heeded or ignored and the resulting effect. He covers an array of different types of violence--stranger, stalker, acquaintance, domestic abuse--and how to try and avoid them all. In de Becker's opinion, we are all capable of surviving violence, and often can avoid it if we are careful and pay attention to what our intuition tells us.

The book is extremely interesting as well as informative. It was full of examples, anecdotes, and research which made it not just entertaining but also very believable. It's a book I think everyone should read, because it a self-help book of the best kind--actually helpful.


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