To: Dan <>
From: Gavin de Becker <>
Date: Monday, July 14, 1997 6:18 PM

Thanks so much for your review in Amazon and the very high rating you gave the book. It means a lot to me. Because your review is long and thought-provoking, I may not touch on everything that occurs to me, but here's a few items: You point out some omissions (such as regular street robberies). This is not an omission - it just is not what my book is about. You note that I don't offer specific advice on many areas. Again, mine is not a book of tips. If you want one, there is Being Safe in an Unsafe World. I will note here (and as someone familiar with the field, you'll likely relate to this) that I find it the height of recklessness to give a prescription without a diagnosis. It seems totally arrogant to say: "Here's what to do if you are being followed," and then offer a checklist of responses. In Being Safe... there is a section that recommends this response to being followed: "Cross the street and walk in the opposite direction." But... it raises so many questions: What if you are just 60 yards shy of reaching the police station?, or What if the remote train-tracks are in the opposite direction? or How is it lit? Are there open businesses? Are there people around? Who is following? and literally a hundred other questions before I could ever put in a book, "Here's what to do when this happens to you." I tried hard to be careful to always set context fully and clearly before the reader. So rest assured it wasn't an omission; it was a choice.

I've got twenty years of being asked for simple, universal checklists, and I do not believe in them. If a man called out to a doctor, "I've got chest-pains, what should I do?" is there a responsible physician anywhere who'd call out some treatment plan without first getting a lot more information? You noted that my book is "remarkably short on suggestions," but that's not the purpose of this book. (It's also, I offer in all good-humor, remarkably short on summer barbeque recipes.)

Regarding how to change one's profile from a victim to a victor, I think all of Chapter Four is specifically about that. Will you participate in this type of predator's strategies, or will you refuse to? Will you honor intuition? Will you listen to yourself? That's the topic, not which specific safety tip might work for you in some particular situation. There simply is no universality to safety responses. people often speak of the Fight or Flight Response. I am glad to report that there are hundreds more responses available to human beings (cleverness, negotiation, cooperation, compliance, resistance, trickery, confusion, etc). Page 63 specifically addresses the selection process, and the predator's interview. My observations there are about that type of crime - the type Kelly experienced (which is not, by the way, a fantasy at all). Page 63, 69, page 74, and in a broader sense all of the chapter is about how to be a less attrractive victim to that one type of predator.

From a wide menu of possible crimes, I did select those that I wanted to focus on , usually because I had the most to say on crimes and violence with which I feel most familiar, or in some cases, because there are dangerous and widespread misunderstandings (TRO's for example). I did need to keep the book fairly brief (a challenge you didn't have in your longest-ever Amazon review).

I chose some of what I chose because I considered in most urgent, closest to my heart, or most original, i.e. I didn't want it to be a compendium of other philsophies, even if I endorsed them. Gift of Fear will hopefully serve as a study of predicting human behavior, using the highest-stakes window to look through, that of predicting violence. It won't be an encyclopedia of crime and violence, of course.

With regard to guns as a security precaution, here again, to answer the question "Should I have a gun? I have to know a lot about who is asking the question. Should I the alcoholic? Should I the mother with three teenage sons in a small apartment? Should I who will be responsible? Should I who will learn about guns and gun safety? With a book, one is addressing a large audience, and lives are literally at stake. Thus, I avoid universal guidelines or tips. That's not what my book is about. It's sub-title is "Survival Signals," not Survival Strategies. I mean to empower readers by showing that they know more than might have thought, that in a crisis, they might be more capable than they might have thought. I do not mean to train them.

Finally, with regard to guns, I have a whole appendix (pg 309) about gun safety and guns in general. There is also the discussion in Chapter One about the number of guns in our society (which might together slightly reveal that for most (not all) people, guns are not as valuable to safety as they might believe.

If my book were called The Gift of Fear: Everything You'll Ever Need to Know about Crime, then I'd agree with the observation that all kinds of things are missing. I could tell you have some familiarity with the topic, and I am most interested in the comments (even those I don't agree with). Since there's a need for the kind of book mine is not, how about you writing it? I'd also love to hear your comments on How to be Safe in an Unsafe World, which does have the goals you note in your review of my book. Thank you again for all the time and thought you put into your comments. I'm really grateful that the book had some value for you and your wife.

Gavin de Becker