This book has remained one of the most widely read books on violence since it was published more than two decades ago. So why should you read it?
Gavin De Becker is one of the leading experts in security and violence prevention in America. No, not just because he has a website that says so.
He designed the threat identification system that is currently used in America to protect high profile government figures, and he has three presidential appointments under his belt.
He has made an entire career out of studying violence, and currently heads a 520 person consulting company dedicated to protecting clients at risk of violent attacks.
“The solution to violence in America is the acceptance of reality” – Gavin de Becker in the Gift of Fear
— SelfDefenseTutorials (@SelfDefenseTut) February 21, 2017
The title of his book runs against the attitude that we see on “No Fear” t-shirts, and in some martial arts circles. That attitude says that fear is weakness. In fact, as he argues, fear is one of the most useful signals we experience when we are in danger.
Instead of ignoring it or pushing it aside, we should be recognizing it for what it is: a survival signal. By listening to this cue, it is possible to recognize an attack before it happens and get away.
At the heart of this book is the argument that we have a whole range of survival instincts. We talk about these as “gut instinct”, “intuition”, “worry”, or just the sense that we’ve noticed something odd.
Too often, says De Becker, we dismiss these signals because we can’t come up with a logical reason to explain them. What we do not realise is that what we call “intuition” is a highly developed system of scanning and identifying patterns of human behaviour. When this subconscious scanning system identifies a break in the pattern or something that feels odd, it has been processing information faster than the brain can explain.
Through a stunning list of actual cases, De Becker shows that this is the early warning system that can save your life if you have the intelligence to listen to it. He also demonstrates the terrifying results of dismissing one survival signal after another because people want to be polite, or refuse to believe that something dangerous could be about to happen.
From attacks by strangers, to violence from people we know and trust, De Becker brings an amazing amount of experience to this study. It frequently reads like a novel, as he retells stories from the many people he has interviewed.
Violence is part of a chain of events that can be predicted — and you can learn to see it coming if you know where to look. This book is a fantastic addition to your self defence arsenal.