Synopses & Reviews
Nerves make us bomb job interviews, first dates, and SATs. With a presentation looming at work, fear robs us of sleep for days. It paralyzes seasoned concert musicians and freezes rookie cops in tight situations. And yet not everyone cracks. Soldiers keep their heads in combat; firemen rush into burning buildings; unflappable trauma doctors juggle patient after patient. It's not that these people feel no fear; often, in fact, they're riddled with it.
In Nerve, Taylor Clark draws upon cutting-edge science and painstaking reporting to explore the very heart of panic and poise. Using a wide range of case studies, Clark overturns the popular myths about anxiety and fear to explain why some people thrive under pressure, while others falter — and how we can go forward with steadier nerves and increased confidence.
"Why, in a world where we have created secure buffers against our worst fears, are so many of us so anxious? And why do some people exhibit nerves of steel under stressful and fearful conditions while others wilt? Clark (Starbucked) explores these questions by briefly examining the neuroscience of fear, and then collecting numerous stories of individuals who have remained calm against all odds in fearful life-and-death situations. For example, in 1991, principal Daniel Stockwell faced down a rifle barrel as he negotiated with a high school student holding him hostage. Although he was later praised for his calm, Stockwell admitted that he worked with his fear, rather than banishing it, in order to face the situation. Clark draws out of these tales a dozen quick tips for retaining your nerve in the face of stress, such as learning to accept uncertainty, breathing, and opening up to fear unconditionally. Unfortunately his meandering and simplistic approach offers neither new insights into the nature of anxiety nor any new perspectives on handling it. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Clark interviews a wide variety of people, including athletes who inexplicably choke in tight situations and others who appear at the top of their game when the pressure is most intense....A compassionate psychological page-turner." Kirkus Reviews
"This is an improbably charming and witty book about a disturbing and flummoxing subject. More than that, though, Taylor Clark has made me less afraid of being afraid." Tom Bissell, author of Extra Lives
About the Author
Taylor Clark is a writer based in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Dartmouth College and a Pacific Northwest native, he has written for GQ, Slate, and Psychology Today, among other publications.