NERVE – by Taylor Clark

A Book Review by Bill Dahl

Clark, Taylor – NERVE – Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, And The Brave New Science Of Fear and Cool, Little, Brown and Company – Hachette Book Group, New York, NY Copyright © 2011 by Taylor Clark.

Taylor Clark’s new book demonstrates, once again, that he is a magnificent story-teller. This is one of those books that should have a WARNING LABEL on the jacket: “WARNING: If You Pick This Book Up – You Won’t Be Able To Put It Down.”

What’s refreshing for me as evidenced by NERVE is that talented writers are beginning to explore science and share the same in a manner that is both inviting and digestible by a broad and diverse audience. Clark’s frankness about this fact (see pp.13-14) is invigorating – along with his confession of being one who has NOT triumphed over fear, anxiety, worry and stress – yet, remains “a fairly neurotic guy.” (You’ve gotta love that kind of authenticity…I certainly do.

Clark weaves the science into incredibly entertaining non-fiction stories that will keep you turning the pages. His thesis is the path of fear is the path of life (p.282) – and provides bushels of evidence to support the same.

This is NOT one of those sappy books on fear, courage or life that has the “buck up buster” theme running throughout the pages (Thank God for that!!!). Clark has an ability to speak about the reality of the subject, making it literary fare for ordinary folks, those with a keen interest in the subject matter, the social/neuroscience community — and those who just want a book that is filled with the wit and ways of a truly talented storyteller and investigative journalist.

There are mounds of  gems in this book. Here are a couple I distinctly appreciated from NERVE:

So the measure of our ability to deal well with fear isn’t whether we get afraid, but how we connect with that fear. In the end, this is the kind of “nerve” that matters most: the nerve to open up to fear, work with it, and do the right thing regardless of how we feel. P.282.

Bravery isn’t being fearless. Bravery is being scared and doing the right thing anyway.

Developing solid cognition under fire isn’t about thinking fearlessly but about thinking alongside fear. P.158.

We can take small, concrete steps toward our goals, to show ourselves that we are authors of our own fate – not helpless in the face of adversity.  P.128

A GREAT book! A fantastic writer. A wonderful gift for a friend, colleague or family member as well. BUY IT!

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