Ok ! I will be true to you all. My interaction with a non fiction novel dealing with a serious topic has been scarce. But then again I started reading seriously, since three years ago only. So this book The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker was recommended by a member of a Quora Bibliophile group of which I am part of. It turned out to be one of the best book I have ever read till date. It’s based on the experiences of Gavin De Becker, who is a security specialist, and the recommendations he has for people which might save them from violence. The worthiness of this book can be considered from the fact that even Oprah mentioned it in her show that everybody should read this book. 

The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker Review

The Gift of Fear by Gavin De BeckerGenre : Non Fiction, Psychology

It is not just the most interesting book I have read but also the most important one. The wisdom that Gavin has shared via this book is that people should listen to their primal instincts and intuition and not be in a denial. No violence or an act of crime happens at the spur of the moment, impulsively, on impulse or like they say – without planning and premeditation, impromptu, spontaneously or on the spot. Their are always visible signs for any deed before the “Act” actually happens. The author has given various cases ranging from stalking to homicide, from mass murder to serial killers, from a violent husband to a juvenile killer. All these cases mentioned in the book are real with the their original names being used. The information of these cases can even be found in the internet for example the case of stabbing attack on tennis marvel Monica Seles.

The book starts on a general note of the work done by Gavin and his agency that provides protective services to clients. He mentions of myriads of cases in the beginning, of violence that happens all around the world. And then he breaks it into specific types of threats in later chapters with a real time examples.

The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker has explored death threats, stalking, obsessions, mental illness, child abuse, children who killed their parents, serial killers , domestic violence, multiple shootings and few others. In all these cases he mentions about the strings of incidents that are visible before any kind of violence, and breaks it down into steps or rather predictors which let you predict the “Act”. He also mentions the steps to follow in order to deal with them. Now these are not some standard course of action but it certainly gives you an approach to deal with such situations. The essence of all of it to listen to your gut/intuition.

Man is a social animal and like all animals his he has been gifted with a built in tool of danger detector. But he also has emotional intelligence and is raised to treat others with respect and not come across as rude. Due to this factor, most of the times we tend to ignore the signs. We become blind to the behaviour of any man who tries to be nice or offers unsolicited help, thinking “Why would this man hurt us?”. Denial is a damaging. We listen to it and end up ignoring the obvious signals. An excerpt from the book reads as below which totally justifies my point :

“It’s also that thing called judgement that gets in the way of our perception and intuition. It causes us to disregard our intuition unless we can explain it logically, rather than honour it. No animal in the wild would suddenly be overcome with fear and spend their mental energy thinking that it’s probably nothing.”

During the launch of the book, Oprah, after hearing the story of Kelly (mentioned in the first chapter), a woman who survived a terrifying attack, realised that “no” is a complete sentence.

Gavin talks about fear. He says that it is separate from anxiety, uneasiness, hunch etc, Fear is a Survival mechanism. It is empowering if we focus on dealing with the situation logically and not emotionally or with denial. Giving up to fear is counterproductive and it drowns out all the things your intuition is trying to say to keep you safe.

Even though it is a 400 page book, it’s a very quick read. The information provided is very catchy so you never lose the interest.

Recommended to :

I would recommend this book to be read by anybody and everybody.

About the Author :

Gavin de Becker is an expert on the prediction and management of violence. He has served on President’s Advisory Board at the U.S. Department of Justice and the Governor’s Advisory Board at the California Department of Mental Health; he now runs a consulting firm which advises government agencies, universities, police departments, corporations, and media figures on the assessment of threats and hazards.

He is the designer of the MOSAIC Threat Assessment Systems, which is used to screen threats to Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, members of United States Congress, and senior officials of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Source : Wikipedia



9.0 /10


10.0 /10


9.0 /10


  • > Life saving insights
  • > Real life incidents as instances
  • > Helps separate paranoia from actual fear


  • > Bit repetitive theme
  • > Sense of Misandry at times


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