Why are we so fixated with such tales, gory and clichéd as they may be? The very gruesomeness of the material is an undeniable source of fascination. Yet our national obsession with extreme survival tales stems not only from their content but the fact that they are true…As opposed to works of fiction, true-life extreme survival stories are granted a special type of immunity and cultural authority. How do you critique the truth?…But strangely, what makes the true-life extreme survival story so appealing is its fictional quality. Self-amputation, hypoxia at high altitudes, shark attacks, cannibalism: this is the stuff of fantasy.

~ Hilary Menges, from “Cliffhanger: on Extreme Survival Books”



Base Jumping [credit: santimolina]

[credit: santimolina]




Looking for a book that will blow your hair back? Want an extreme read for the beach or the plane? Or maybe the perfect paperback to shove into your backpack before you head out on your own travel adventure? Check out The Millions‘ list of extreme survival stories for some new suggestions and a writer Hilary Menges thorough and historical exploration of why such literature fascinates us in the first place.