This is an engaging and accessible work of intellectual synthesis that allows the reader to appreciate how the big and the small fit into the integrated system that is the human organism. The book rests on a foundation of broad and solid scholarship, and is of considerable practical utility ... It could serve well as a textbook in a variety of courses at either undergraduate or graduate level. As a practicing physiologist, I enjoyed the broad view it provided of my discipline ... some may just read it for the pleasure of learning the marvelous ways the human organism adapts to its environment. Polar Record 40/214 Piantadosi's book is a superb primer in the field and deserves a very wide readership. Physiology News, Number 55, Summer 2004
The range of environments in which people can survive is extensive, yet most of the natural world cannot support human life. The Biology of Human Survival identifies the key determinants of life or death in extreme environments from a physiologist's perspective, integrating modern concepts of stress, tolerance, and adaptation into explanations of life under Nature's most austere conditions. The book examines how individuals survive when faced with extremes of immersion, heat, cold or altitude, emphasising the body's recognition of stress and the brain's role in optimising physiological function in order to provide time to escape or to adapt. In illustrating how human biology adapts to extremes, the book also explains how we learn to cope by blending behaviour and biology, first by trial and error, then by rigorous scientific observation, and finally by technological innovation. The book describes life-support technology and how it enables humans to enter once unendurable realms from the depths of the ocean to the upper reaches of the atmosphere and beyond.
Finally, it explores the role that advanced technology might play in special environments of the future, such as long journeys into space.