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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Follow Your Nose
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...
Published on 11 Dec 2009 by Charles Vasey

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars We have instincts for a reason
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...
Published 23 months ago by Belochka


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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Follow Your Nose, 11 Dec 2009
By 
Charles Vasey (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence (Paperback)
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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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learn to trust your intuition, 28 Nov 2007
By 
Phung Minh Hoang (Singapore) - See all my reviews
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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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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book changes lives, 4 Sep 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence (Paperback)
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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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that totally changes your perception of people, 7 July 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence (Paperback)
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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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars We have instincts for a reason, 27 Nov 2012
This review is from: The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence (Paperback)
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. Although relevant to his own security advisory business; I found the slant of the writing to be a little too much of an apparent "this will sound good on a chat show or promotional tour" rather than actively useful.

Where the book hit a low point entirely is Chapter Ten, which is on domestic violence. The author's own view on why people remain in abusive relationships is prominent throughout the entire chapter (understandable as it might be when Mr de Becker grew up with a violent, drug-addicted mother). I found it to be an out-dated and clearly biased view. Everyone being different; it could be helpful to be told that staying in an abusive relationship is a choice that is made but, for me, it came off as potentially sounding like blaming a victim of abuse. I would not suggest this as reading for a person trying to leave a violent/abusive relationship without back-up from a different professional source.

Overall: useful for the things it has to say about training your instinctive reactions and finding ways to defend against manipulative or aggressive personalities. Not quite so helpful are the sections with Gavin de Becker's need to repeatedly sell his abilities at the reader and personal views which are not suitable applied to all the instances he suggests.

(Edited note. Having seen other reviews refer to the belief that The Gift of Fear can prevent being the target of sexual violence or other violent crimes, I would like to stress that while I think this book can be a useful guide to understanding, recognising and avoiding aggressive or manipulative situations, as a survival mechanism, the onus of responsibility for such acts lies entirely with the person who commits them.

I abhor implications that women are equal in 'responsibility' for being assaulted or raped as it ignores the obvious point that the individual who is a deliberate aggressor or abuser has the sole responsibility on deciding to attack, rape or abuse. This book does not teach how to prevent violent or abusive people from acting on those behaviours in the first place or how to defend yourself in a situation that escalates quickly into a physical assault or confrontation. Readers who carry onto the chapter 'Extreme Hazards' with Mr de Becker's detailed and disturbing account of protecting an unnamed celebrity from a mentally ill and highly violent stalker can contrast his general advice with the fact that it apparently takes a platoon of police and security people, as well as lots of money, to ensure that threats do not become reality. The main idea of there always being very clearly signalled behaviour is by no means foolproof in itself for avoiding violence, nor does it act as some societal and cultural changing document)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engaging exploration of violence and personal safety, 14 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Gift of Fear (Paperback)
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Most Insightful Read, 10 Mar 2008
Gavin De Becker's "The Gift of Fear" is one of the MOST IMPORTANT books that I have ever read as it provides a great deal of information and invaluable insights. This is the book that gives detailed information about the "gut feelings" or red flags that one experienced but ignored. By being aware of these "gut feelings" and act on them, we would be much better protected than ignoring them where we would be exposed to unspeakable dangers.

Violence can be predicted and avoided. This book gave so many examples and instances as well insights for the reader to be better aware of fears and of the difference between real fear and unwarranted anxiety.

With roughly 430 pages and 16 chapters (including an epilogue), "The Gift of Fear" is very informative yet insightful read. With my humble opinion, I would strongly recommend this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prevention is Better that a Cure!!, 12 April 2009
By 
Terry Tozer "TJSKA.com" (Reading & Bracknell, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Gift of Fear (Hardcover)
Of all the books on Self Defence & Conflict Management/Resolution that I have ever read, THIS one has to be the very best. The fact that it has lasted so long in print & stood the test of time is its best testimonial; I've not seen a negative review about it yet.

A couple of honest points first. There are too many references to other books & authors for my liking - a larger bibliography would have made reading easier. Also, there a many times De Becker mentions "....& I'll covering such & such in more detail in chapter so & so). These niggles are minor compared to the nature of its important & potentially life saving content.

Something that would have made this interesting & fascinating book easier to refer back to would have been more sub-headings, highlighting & bullet points, perhaps even summary points at the end of each chapter.

This is a huge reference manual that ought to take a prominent place in any self-defence instructors book shelf.

They say - "Prevention is better than Cure" & so the main theme throughout is not finding yourself in a situation that could end up in some form of nasty conflict with an adversary that you would certainly not want to confront or fight. So instead of waiting for an attack to happen & then have to deal with the inevitable & nasty consequences of fighting, De Becker teaches us using many useful explanations about the use of intuition & how to recognise & nurture it. More importantly he tells us that we need to pay more attention to our intuition, gut feelings, hunches & suspicions. This he does very successfully by giving us the signals to look for in others, that we ought to be wary of & who may become dangerous; thus we avoid getting into difficulties.

The skills necessary to do this are done by repeating various easy techniques to good effect. I feel that we need this repetition to let these important life skills sink in well.

De Becker also teaches us that fear, when recognised & if reacted to in the correct manner, is a good & desirable thing. We need to learn to recognise those strange feelings, like butterflies inside of us, & put them into proper use.

Please don't be put off by the cover of the book that looks a little old fashioned or that it has been around since 1997. The title really does say it all & it includes all the skills & information you need within its 432 pages to help save our or our families lives.

Do check out De Beckers credentials from his website, he's easy to find on Google, should you feel the need to be convinced any further about his competency & experience to teach on the subject.

Complimentary titles that go with this title are: Beauty Bites Beast: Awakening the Warrior Within Women and Girls by Ellen Snortland &
A Girl's Gotta Do What a Girl's Gotta Do: A Complete Guide to Personal Safety for Women by Kathleen Baty.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A chilling, brilliant and helpful account of violence, 1 April 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Gift of Fear (Paperback)
As cliched as this might sound, this is a must read book, even you don't particularly enjoy the self-type genre much. Gavin De Becker has written an excellent account of violence and what propels men into such hideous acts of madness. How to deal with angry (fired)employees, battering husbands, why 'no' is a word that muct be final.. De Becker deals with all these issues and more.
De Becker is a security expert, who has dealt with Presidents and media figures. His prescriptions for a violent world as pragmatic and applicable. Partly because he is an excellent communicator of concepts and partly because he does not lecture- he has, after all been on the receiving end of such behaviour. It is mainly directed to women - they are the biggest beneficiary of such acts - but it provides valuable insights for men too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Save your fear for when it's needed, 10 Mar 2014
By 
C. A. Austin "chezza99" (England, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence (Paperback)
Gavin de Becker is a high-powered security consultant with a highly personal reason for his interest in the subject. In this book, he shares his consultancy's core techniques for evaluating risk, advising on when to take action and when to relax. Although his counsel boils down to "trust your instincts; they never let you down", the insights gained from this book will help inform your instincts and assure you that you'll KNOW when there's real danger. People are, generally, keen to talk themselves out of acting on appropriate fear, but they feel it anyway. Conversely, many of us worry too much about potential danger where there is none. De Becker aims to teach us the difference.

This is, I think, a particularly good book for women. The author recognises that we spend most of our lives on the alert for danger, because we are at risk in many ways that don't apply to men. He tells numerous gripping stories about things that happened - and that nearly happened - to clients of his, talking us through the subliminal clues they instinctively picked up. He shows us how to apply their lessons to our own lives. The amazing gift of this book about fear is that it helps us not to feel needlessly afraid!

His gift for men, too, and for people in business, is the knowledge to support your instinct. Countless dreadful things have happened in business environments, which could have been prevented if decision-makers had not rationalised their concerns or dismissed concerns flagged up by colleagues. There is strength in alarm reporting: with de Becker's tools you can become your own security consultant, improving safety for yourself and those around you.

Strongly recommended.
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The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence
The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence by Gavin de Becker (Paperback - 3 July 2000)
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