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  • Writer's pictureTori Burkett


Updated: Mar 13, 2023

A book review from a mother's perspective on Spotting Danger Before It Spots You

by Gary Quesenberry

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Situational Awareness seems to be a really hot topic right now. Thanks to Ring Doorbells & the age of social media, we can access video footage of dangerous encounters at our fingertips. This provides us with proof and context that these events really happen, every day to regular people. Unfortunately, it can also poke at the monster of anxiety. Thankfully, we have access to some really awesome tools, one of them being the book Spotting Danger Before It Spots You by Gary Quesenberry.

Before I go into details about the book, I want to bring up the reason why I think this is so innate for mothers. That’s the whole reason you’re here, right!? According to March of Dimes, 1 in 7 women will experience Postpartum Depression or Postpartum Anxiety (CDC reports between 1 in 10 or 1 in 8). The trendy Taylor Swift audio “It’s me. Hi. I’m the problem it’s me” immediately pops into my head when I look at this. Something that is not as widely broadcasted is why this occurs. I know there are parts of our systems that are broken, but let's talk about the biological changes that actually occur in our body & mind. I love this article by The Atlantic that details the changes that happen to the maternal brain. In this article, she quotes Pilyoung Kim, a researcher at the Department of Physiology Family & Child Neuroscience Lab,

“Growth in brain regions involved in emotion regulation, empathy-related regions, but also what we call maternal motivation—and I think this region could be largely related to obsessive-compulsive behaviors. In animals and humans during the postpartum period, there’s an enormous desire to take care of their own child.”

Learning that my brain was really changing & developing in a new way helped me use those thoughts in a more intentional way. I know this is a little off-topic for a book review but I feel like it’s important for you to know that you are biologically equipped with this heightened sense to protect your children so you can learn to harness that instinct & not let it overcome you. Okay, let’s get to this awesome book!


Gary Quesenberry has a whole lot of experience in his field. At the age of 17, he joined the US Army, and when he left he became a correctional lieutenant at the Federal Bureau of Prisons, after that he had a 19-year career as an Air Marshal, & has been featured on the History Channel’s hit series Top Shot. This guy knows his stuff. Now he spends time passing on his knowledge to people like you & me so we can better protect ourselves. You can also see him on iCrime with Elizabeth Vargas. You can also find him on Instagram.


The book is broken down into Phases and Chapters. Each Phase focuses on a different element of building your skill; Understanding the Threat, Build Situational Awareness, and Develop Personal Defense. The last chapter is putting it all together. This structure of the book is really great because it takes a subject that is really broad & gives you small building blocks so it is easy to get a deep understanding of the concept.

Not only does Gary use his own experiences to guide you but he has also done extensive research & references them in the book. I value a good opinion, but when I am learning a new skill, I want some good hard facts to back it up the why & how. You will find references to books, movies, articles, websites, case studies, and real-life events. I don’t want to give too much away, but I was pleasantly surprised by the other resources.

The cover states “Build Situational Awareness to stay safe” and they mean it. At the end of each chapter, you will be given exercises to apply what you have learned to your everyday life. Instead of just throwing a bunch of words at you, Gary makes sure that you are capable of using your newfound knowledge immediately. You will be presented with questions to ask yourself & games you can play. Yes, games! If you loved the “find what is different” pictures as a kid, you will enjoy this type of learning. There is also a Self Assessment worksheet at the back of the book!

The perspective of the book is not only from someone with experience in various fields (Army, Air Marshal, etc) but it is also from the perspective of a husband & father. He tells a story about an incident that happened in his own life that forced him to reframe his mindset. Due to this, he is able to not only give you advice on how to make situational awareness a whole family system, but he has done it with his own family. Kudos to his wife & kids for helping pave the way for the rest of us!


When I was researching what to include in a book review I found that authors & readers like to know what you did not like about the book. I can honestly say that there is nothing I did not enjoy about this book. This section is probably pointless, but it is not something I just looked over.


Situational Awareness is the foundation for being more prepared. There is so much information out there that it can be hard to figure out how to actually start implementing these steps into your life. The book Spotting Danger Before It Spots you is a very well-written, researched, and easy-to-follow step-by-step solution! Once you have completed this book, not only will you have a clear understanding of situational awareness, but you will also find that you have gained confidence, are able to be more present in your life, & well equipped to pass this knowledge to your children.

If you have already read this book let me know your thoughts in the comments!

"The bottom line is you can never fight what you can't see coming."
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