Survival Stories

These compelling stories show us what fear, courage, and the desire to live look like.

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer
A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that “suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down.” He was wrong. The storm would claim five lives and leave countless more–including Krakauer’s–in guilt-ridden disarray.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
In 1943, while World War II raged on in the Pacific Theater, Lieutenant Louis Zamperini survived a deadly plane crash in the middle of the ocean. Zamperini had a troubled youth, yet honed his athletic skills and made it all the way to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. However, what lay before him was a physical gauntlet unlike anything he had encountered before: thousands of miles of open ocean, a small raft, and no food or water.

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
After their ship, the Endurance, was crushed in ice, Shackleton and his men survived a 1,000-mile voyage in an open boat across the stormiest ocean on the globe and an overland trek through forbidding glaciers and mountains. 

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Olympics by Daniel James Brown
Out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times–the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.

Alive: Sixteen Men, Seventy Two Days, and Insurmountable Odds by Piers Paul Read
Describes the ordeal of the survivors of an airplane crash in 1972 in the Andes wilderness in which over half of the forty-five passengers died, discussing the challenges the men faced during their ten weeks in the shelter of the plane’s fuselage without supplies and with little hope of rescue.

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
In 1820, the whaleship “Essex “was rammed and sunk by an angry sperm whale, leaving the desperate crew to drift for more than ninety days in three tiny boats. Nathaniel Philbrick uses little-known documents and vivid details about the Nantucket whaling tradition to reveal the chilling facts of this infamous maritime disaster. 

Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston
One of the most extraordinary survival stories ever told–Aron Ralston’s searing account of his six days trapped in one of the most remote spots in America, and how one inspired act of bravery brought him home.

Near Death on the High Seas by Cecil Kuhne
Cecil Kuhne collects some of the most terrifying and astounding experiences of sailors confronting the awesome, raw power of the sea. These tales-filled with everyday heroes and survivors-comprise a riveting and often breathtaking collection of extraordinary stories that show the terrible ferocity of the untamable ocean.