Remembrance of Things Past

Coffeetable Books

December 17, 1999:

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook

by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht

Chronicle Books, 176 pp., $14.95 (paper)

Should a nightmare chain reaction leading to global armageddon occur anytime soon, the chances of finding yourself having to escape from quicksand or fend off a charging bull are no greater than on your average day. Nonetheless, The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook is here, conveniently timed to cash in on latent millennial fears of folks who derive ironic amusement from survivalist magazines. Walking the line between novelty and militarism, the authors couch expert advice from alligator farmers, avalanche rescue workers, and bomb squad officers in this sharply designed book with softly rounded corners (decreasing the chances of paper cuts as you learn to perform a fast 180-degree turn in your car?). Indeed, some of the scenarios are preposterous, and the instructions pure common sense, but the book is always amusing -- and occasionally practical: After all, knowing how to break into a car with power locks or dodge a gunman has its advantages, doomsday or no.

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