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CHANCING IT: The Meaning of Risk by Ralph Keyes

CHANCING IT: The Meaning of Risk


Pub Date: Feb. 6th, 1984
Publisher: Little, Brown

Another pale, muddled attempt to explain the nature of risks and risk-takers. Keyes (Is There Life After High School? The Height of Your Life) is in absolute awe of the likes of Philippe Petit, and would like to be able to explain how Petit and other daredevil types define and then conquer risk; but he can't. ""My dictionary defines 'risk'; 'to expose to hazard or danger.' Objectively speaking, this definition is as good as any."" Still, how can we apply such a concept to specific situations and people? ""In the first place, how do you know what's hazardous or dangerous these days? Does that include saccharin? Cholesterol?"" That's as clear as Keyes gets. More satisfying are his profiles of daredevils like Petit--whose biggest fear, we learn, is having children: ""This is something like death. It attracts me quite a lot, but it is something so immense that I just cannot give an answer."" Also on tap are mountain climbers, pilots, and sky divers (including one who died trying to jump onto St. Louis' Gateway Arch). Of equal interest to Keyes is what he calls ""Level II Risk Taking"": risks to the ego, risks of boredom, failure, and regret--which he associates with successful business entrepreneurs and close-knit families. These stories--a woman building an antique lace business, Keyes' own freelance writing career--are considerably less intriguing. Keyes encourages Level Is to try Level II-type risks, and vice versa, but this is mostly fluff. A few good stories are about the sum of it.