Sub category, book review.
I'm interested in hearing what the rest of you consider worth reading, and I hope that book recommendations will become a fairly regular feature here.
The The Wreck of the Medusa , by Alexander McKee, describes the disaster that befell the crew and passengers of the French warship Medusa when it ran aground off the coast of Africa in 1816. Due to incompetence on the part of those in leadership positions, 150 men and one woman were placed on a raft which was then set adrift. Two weeks later, fifteen of them were rescued, after going through what might be called indescribable suffering, except that McKee describes it in painstaking detail.
For the first day or two those on the raft maintained a degree of unity, but after that civilization crumbled quickly, and murder, cannibalism and mass insanity broke out.
The book closes with an examination of similar disasters, examines the psychological affects on those involved, and discusses the different ways groups of people react to high stress situations. Although he does not spend a great deal of time on the topic, McKee suggests that group cohesion is an important factor in surviving a disaster.