Book Review: “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker

Self-defense is something marketed to us frequently by martial arts schools, but what is real self-defense? This book, The Gift of Fear, teaches you the REAL tools that can save your life.

“This book can save your life.” – That’s a pretty bold statement. It is also printed front and center upon the cover of Gavin de Becker’s bestselling book, The Gift of Fear. The statement, while bold, is also very true. While many self-defense books and martial arts claim to save lives, this book teaches you things that can actually do it. This book already has saved thousands upon thousands of lives, many of whom belong to friends and family members of your very own.

self defense, self-defense, martial arts, safetyI picked up my first copy of The Gift of Fear in a hole-in-the wall bookstore in Greenwhich Village, NY after being told The Blair Witch Project was sold out in the theatre next door. That one singular decision changed the course of my life forever and is without a doubt why I am in Santa Barbara at this very moment as a gym owner, acupuncturist, writer, and speaker.

The book made such a dramatic impression on me I actually wrote the author, for the first time in my life, a thank you letter of sorts. In reply, I was sent a job application and the first step in a five year adventure working for Gavin de Becker, Inc.

The Gift of Fear is a brilliantly orchestrated breakdown of violent situations. It is a step-by-step guide from both an outside perspective and often also the surviving victim’s perspective, taking the reading through horrific human experiences as well as the mind and actions of the perpetrators responsible for them.

Gavin lists and gives real examples of the similarities in action, thought, and belief of most criminals as well as the reasons why their ruses are so successful. From victim selection, to manipulation, coercion and downright brute force, patterns exist before violent situations take place and this book highlights them clearly.

Forced Teaming, giving too many details about a situation, using charm and niceness, type casting, loan sharking and making unsolicited promises – all tools of manipulation, become easy to recognize once they have been explained with a clear example. “I know what you’re trying to do to me right now,” is a thought readers of this book will experience far more than those who haven’t gotten their hands on it.

Underlying all of the stories, the statistics, the testimonials, and the expertise is the simple idea we have a far more sophisticated trouble and violence detection system than anyone realizes and the goal of the book is to bring that intuition into the forefront of our minds. Have you ever had a nagging feeling something just wasn’t right as you reached for your front door? You know the knot you get in your stomach every time you’re alone with your boss in the office? These are the feelings The Gift of Fear is imploring you to act upon. These are the true survival signals we are ignoring.

With chapters on stalking, work place violence, attacks on public figures, domestic violence, and many more, the readers are given insight into an expert analysis of each subject – a behind the scenes look, if you will, into areas of life we hope to never have to deal with but will be grateful for truthful information if we do.

The Gift of Fear is more than a page turner, more than a standard guide to self-defense, it is a journey into the world of threat assessment and analysis through the eyes of someone who has lived and breathed nothing but for over 30 years. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, it has been given to every woman of significance in my life and I continue to give copies out regularly. Read it and pass it on, doing so is bound to save somebody’s life.

“The Gift of Fear” is available for $7.99 and up at

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