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The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence [Paperback]

Gavin de Becker
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 July 2000
In this empowering book, Gavin de Becker, the man Oprah Winfrey calls the US' leading expert on violent behaviour, shows you how to spot even subtle signs of danger - before it's too late. Shattering the myth that most violent acts are unpredictable, de Becker, whose clients include top Hollywood stars and government agencies, offers specific ways to protect yourself and those you love, including: how to act when approached by a stranger; when you should fear someone close to you; what to do if you are being stalked; how to uncover the source of anonymous threats or phone calls; the biggest mistake you can make with a threatening person; and more. You can learn to spot the danger signals others miss. It might just save your life.

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The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence + Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training and Real World Violence + Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (3 July 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747538352
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747538356
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A how-to book that reads like a thriller...provocative...empowering.""--The Boston Globe" "De Becker has a lot to say about crime and the fear of crime, and he says it persuasively...his blend of empathy, reassurance and common sense wows readers.""--Newsweek" "Chilling and fascinating."--Jeffrey Toobin, author of "The Nine" "From the Paperback edition."

About the Author

Gavin de Becker is internationally regarded as a leading expert on the prediction and management of violence. In 1985, de Becker received a special award from the US Attorney General and the director of the FBI in recognition of his work in threat assessment. He is also the author of more than forty articles and white papers, co-author of CONFIDENTIAL REPORT TO MANAGEMENT: UNDERSTANDING AND PREVENTING WORKPLACE VIOLENCE and the contributing-author of STALKED.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Follow Your Nose 11 Dec 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Gavin de Becker's book is far more than I expected. Typically self-help books tend to be rather shrill and include a lot of large font type with daft mnemonics; one suspects the material is a bit thin and has been stretched over the available space. But with de Becker he has (as he ruefully admits) a great deal more than he could (or would) ever recount.

The book's central core is to identify the signs that the author claims one intuitively detects and then to act on them rather than to dismiss them. He opens with a very powerful piece (which I have read before) on the signs that a rape-victim dismissed and those which she picked up to avoid becoming a murder victim. He also identifies the approach used by controlling men. This account completely changed how I would offer help to a woman. This is not just a limited topic however; the identified controlling strategies are ones you will all encounter when talking to salesmen, bossy people and bosses. By identifying them you can act to defuse the alpha-male. The author also does a very good feature on saying "No" clearly.

There is much else that is useful in this book, his chapters on stalkers are particularly good. The keys I took away were that de Becker was himself a victim of violence and had used it well, that his advice was not some macho dream but that stalkers are best defeated by lack of contact and that restraining orders may work in the opposite direction. He also points out that what makes these men monsters is actually what makes them the most human; they act predictably if amorally.

Well written and moderate in tone, I got a lot more than I expected when I bought the book.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book changes lives 4 Sep 2001
By A Customer
Never before has a book had such a profound effect on me. The sub-title is slightly mis-leading as the strategies can be used in all aspects of every day life. It teaches you to become more aware of yourself, others and your surroundings. I bought 5 copies for my friends and they all raved about it. One friend passed it onto her brother who'd come out of a car accident with severe disabilities. It gave him the courage to take charge of his life again. Read this book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I read this book on the recommendation of a friend, and have to say she couldn't have advised a better book! We often think we are aware of people who lie and decieve, but this book makes you listen to your gut feelings. If want to be more aware of people, or feel you want to teach you children how to protect themselves from danger, this is a must read. You would be surprised how much this facinating book can teach you!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learn to trust your intuition 28 Nov 2007
Format:Mass Market Paperback
That's the central message of the book, and one that may save your life if you listen to it.

Through this book, de Becker has convinced me that most violence can be predicted. He goes through a great many common situations in which violence happens, from encounters with strangers, workplace violence to domestic violence and date stalking. In each situation, he describes the indicators of likely violence. Some of these indicators are so often overlooked and rationalized away by the people involved. My favorite one is called: "Refusal to take no for an answer." It can be as trivial as the new date persisting in offering you a drink. Although trivial, such incidents are very telling about his tendency toward violence.

De Becker also discusses a characteristic in many people that blunts out their intuition to actual dangers: unwarranted anxiety. Due to media and social conditioning and other influences, those people feel fear or anxiety in situations that do not pose actual dangers. Such unwarranted anxiety makes them confused and oblivious to the real signals from their intuition. De Becker offers ways for people to overcome that curse and live a life relatively free from fear and anxiety.

In short, I would highly recommend this book. It is one of the few books should be read by everyone (both men and women).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
In 'The Gift Of Fear' Gavin de Becker offers a perceptive analysis of how some forms of violence begin and escalate. Covering stalking, workplace violence, relationship violence and many other areas the book offers practical strategies to enable readers to saty safe. Most importantly, it puts the reader in control of their own safety and puts the use of intuition in its rightful place. 'The Gift Of Fear' is written in an engaging style and is a must read book for anyone who is interested in learning more about violence and personal safety.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars We have instincts for a reason 27 Nov 2012
The Gift of Fear was recommended to me as a useful resource and while it does have valuable information it wasn't quite the book I was expecting.

If you've ever found yourself in a situation where you've encountered a person who prompts a reaction of tension or anxiety, for a seemingly unknown reason, The Gift of Fear can be a valuable guide to deconstructing those situations. The author goes through case histories and his experiences of why we should learn to listen to the valid subconscious cues and information we can receive about a person's behaviour.

Chapters Two to Four are resonant reading because, sad to say, I doubt that many women can read them without thinking of at least one occasion where similar behaviour has occurred even if it did not result in the same outcomes. These sections were the genuine strength of the book by having practical and reasonable suggestions about listening to your own reactions in difficult or potentially dangerous situations.

Where I encountered some problems with the book is that, although marketed as a self-help guide, there are only a few chapters I found to be entirely relevant. The book goes from explaining why we have instinctive responses and how to use them to being a type of true crime/criminal profiling study. Whilst this may be of interest to readers of criminal behaviour and legal systems; it is based on information for a purely American audience rather than an international one, so has some very clear cultural differences between countries (prevalence of crime with guns to highlight one example).

Gavin de Becker is also not backwards when it comes to selling himself and his credentials with mentions of high-profile clients he's worked for.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting
I friend lent me this book and I liked it so much I bought it. Very fascinating a real eye opener. Highly recommend.
Published 20 days ago by Kayla from Norwich
5.0 out of 5 stars Save your fear for when it's needed
Gavin de Becker is a high-powered security consultant with a highly personal reason for his interest in the subject. Read more
Published 1 month ago by C. A. Austin
5.0 out of 5 stars VERY GOOD.
Published 1 month ago by BOY PLONKER
5.0 out of 5 stars Bought this as a gift
Bought this for someone that was going through a rough patch and they said they enjoyed reading it so I'm pleased.
Published 2 months ago by Sandra King
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for anyone concerned with security
This is a fantastic book - well written and accessible. The book contains real examples and plenty of common sense advise on personal and family safety.
Published 2 months ago by Mr. M. O'Sullivan
5.0 out of 5 stars great book that views fear from a positive perspective rather than a...
Not the usual self help book and sees fear from a balanced perspective, rather than making it the negative that most people feel it is
Published 4 months ago by robin ross
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended
I would strongly recommend this book to anyone. Coming from a self defence background this is also valuable reading to any practitioner. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ms. S. M. Davies
5.0 out of 5 stars Please Read This!
This book has changed my perception on the world around me.
it has taught me to open my eyes and to really see, this book is well written and informative... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Greg Dickman
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for all women
An excellent informative read. Every Teen + should read this. The stories are not too scary, and it shows us how we should always be aware of & listen to our natural instincts.
Published 7 months ago by M. Nicolas Babinet
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Some other authors referred to "The gift of fear", so I became very curious. The book discusses various topics and it may be necessary to pick it up again from time to... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Bigmach
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