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NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2018


Laurence Gonzales

Laurence Gonzales is the author of numerous books and has won many awards, including two National Magazine Awards and the Distinguished Service Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. He worked at Playboy Magazine from 1972 to 1978 where he served as the articles editor and began writing about airline crashes. This began his exploration of failure in complex mechanical and coupled mechanical-human systems. He felt that the explanations for these accidents were missing an important element: dealing adequately with the human component of the system. This also furthered his interest in survival, a curiosity that traced to his father's survival in World War Two. When Federico Gonzales's B-17 was shot down near Dusseldorf, Germany, he plummeted 27,000 feet without a parachute and lived to tell the story.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Gonzales wrote articles for Harper's, Rolling Stone, Men's Journal, and National Geographic Adventure, among other publications. After reading in neuroscience for several years, he wrote the best-selling book Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why and its sequel Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience, which attempt to answer related questions about how people make bad decisions and what leads some of them to survive and some to perish. His most recent non-fiction book is Flight 232: A Story of Disaster and Survival, a detailed reconstruction of the crash of a fully-loaded DC-10. He has appeared as a speaker before groups ranging from Exxon-Mobil to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and from the Wilderness Medical Society to the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.