Pros: An interesting and enjoyable read, detailed and well-illustrated explanations and descriptions
Cons: A lot of information to take in, many highly improbable "how to"'s
So you're on vacation, and someone suggests you take one of those glass-bottom boat tours of the ocean. Okay, why not? You shuffle on board and have a seat, and soon the trip has begun. After sailing out aways, you start to nod off. The refreshing sea breeze and rhythmic bob of the ocean begin to lull you into a peaceful sleep. Moments later, a hard collision to the side of the boat nearly tosses you into the water. You catch a brief glimpse of a large "v"-shaped fin disappearing beneath the ocean's surface. With a fair amount of alarm and fear, you note that the ship's deck is beginning to tilt downward. The ship shutters once more, and this time you are dislodged from your seat. You feel yourself being hurled through the air, but fortunately the ocean breaks your fall. By the time you reorient yourself, you are able to recognize a large shadowy shape, mounted by an imposing fin, swimming toward you in the water. "Bring it on!" you shout at the shark. No, you're not afraid, because if there's one thing you learned from reading The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, it's that if and when attacked by a shark, you should make quick, sharp, repeated jabs at the creature's eyes and gills, using anything you have in your possession as a weapon. The shadow is quickly approaching, and you brandish your camera, and...you realize you're dreaming.
Okay, most people have dreamed about or imagined being caught in such a highly dangerous, exceedingly improbable situation or crisis. What would you do if you were caught in the ocean with a shark bearing down on you? Or if you had to land an airplane, or escape from a sinking car? It's extremely likely that it doesn't matter what you'd do, because it will never happen. Still, there's always that .00001% chance....
The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht, doesn't seem intended to be taken 100% seriously, however it's good to know that all the advice and data provided in the book is accurate and earnest. While most of TWCSSH's cited instances will never present themselves to the majority of people, there are some that you may, indeed, want to know about. For instance, many people enjoy camping as a leisurely activity or a way of life. It may interest campers and hikers to know how to survive a poisonous snake attack, or how to escape from a mountain lion or bear. A few of the book's situations may interest urban dwellers, as well -- how to deal with a downed power line, and (one of my personal favorites) how to jump from a building into a dumpster. I don't know who would be chasing you across a roof, but hey... There are also some basic medical treatments included, like how to treat a leg fracture and a bullet or knife wound.
One of the most impressive characteristics of the TWCSSH, aside from its span of dangerous situations, is the detail and care put into each individual "how to". Each instance is carefully explained, step-by-step, in terms that anyone can understand. The authors were mindful not to include any confusing terms or insider's jargon that might complicate the book. Ranging from one or two to four or five pages in total length, each scenario is even provided its own neatly-drawn little illustration.
As far as bang for your buck, that's really a personal call. I paid $14.95 for mine, and I don't regret the purchase. Weighing in at around 150 pages of scenarios, TWCSSH is a quick read, but it's also a book that can be read and reread time and time again. A small added bonus is the ability to annoy friends and family with your knowledge of how to perform a tracheotomy or deliver a baby in a taxicab. As I said, this isn't really a book meant to be taken very seriously, but as an admittedly easily worried person who likes to prepare for the worst, I'm glad I bought this one. It may not be for everyone, but worst-case scenario you learn a few things you may not ever need to use, but may actually enjoy knowing. Just in case you're curious, here are the five categories of scenarios contained within:
Great Escapes and Entrances
The Best Defense
Leaps of Faith