Source: Macleans Magazine
Joshua Slocum, on his way to becoming the first man to sail around the world alone, encountered one in 1895, an inexplicable presence that steered Slocum’s ship through a 48-hour gale while the Nova Scotian lay prostrate with food poisoning.
Reinhold Messner, the great Italian mountain climber, felt its comforting nearness in 1970, during the nightmarish descent from Kashmir’s Nanga Parbat mountain that killed his younger brother.
And on 9/11 one called Ron DiFrancesco by name and convinced the broker that the route to safety in the stairwells of the World Trade Center’s south tower meant running though flames.
Once you start looking for accounts of a “third man,” a mysterious, saving—and literally impossible—presence who appears to people at times of extreme stress and danger, you can find them by the dozen, says John Geiger, who presents an array of them in The Third Man Factor (Penguin). They’re fascinating to read, but this deeply humane book is far more than the sum of its parts: Geiger elegantly demonstrates how these divergent and very personal experiences reveal our profoundly social nature.
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