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The Next Catastrophe:
Reducing Our Vulnerabilities to Natural, Industrial, and Terrorist Disasters
Charles Perrow
With a new preface by the author

Book Description | Table of Contents
Chapter 1 [in PDF format]

ADDITIONAL REVIEWS:

"Hurricane Katrina and the 9/11 attacks have exposed the U.S.'s vulnerabilities to natural and unnatural disasters. What should be done to prevent such catastrophes in the future? Acclaimed sociologist and systems analyst Perrow, addresses this question...The book is written in a highly readable prose that is accessible to general audiences. Indispensable for undergraduate/graduate collections in disaster management studies and risk assessment studies, and extremely useful for environmental studies and environmental sociology."--T. Niazi, Choice

"The Next Catastrophe is an important and far-reaching book that, in arguing for the reduction of vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure to natural, industrial, and terrorist disasters, tackles issues of high significance to us all. It must be hoped that the readership of this book includes not only researchers and industrial safety practitioners but also executives along with politicians at all levels and that its message is acted upon."--David M. Clarke, Risk Analysis

ADDITIONAL ENDORSEMENTS:

"The Next Catastrophe is the work of the master at his formidable best--a dazzling array of learning, perspective, good sense, and, above all, command."--Kai Erikson, Yale University

"A profound and vital book, The Next Catastrophe provides a devastating indictment of the U.S. government's response to the deep organizational faults revealed by the September 11 attacks and Katrina. Perrow shows in fascinating detail how our politicians allow human disasters to be transformed into opportunities for profiteering and politicking, and routinely substitute wasteful bureaucracies for smart plans to reorganize fragile systems. The fundamental answer, Perrow writes, is to discard the profit- and power-driven ideologies in favor of our nation's traditional common-sense approach to the challenges of our all-too-real world."--Barry C. Lynn, author of End of the Line: The Rise and Coming Fall of the Global Corporation

"A profound meditation on the paradox that modern technological and management orthodoxies have taken us down an increasingly perilous path. In the name of efficiency, sensitive industries are now so concentrated that they can be crippled at a single blow, from nature, accidents, or acts of terrorism. The mantra of asserting 'central control' in response to catastrophes only makes things worse, Perrow notes, as hierarchies strangle grassroots networks of local responders that might do some good. A trenchant, troubling study."--John Arquilla, Naval Postgraduate School

"From the opening pages, The Next Catastrophe is riveting, eye-opening, and haunting. The causes of disasters go far beyond random acts of nature or terrorism; they reflect underlying systemic and managerial issues that we must confront in order to ensure our safety. Luckily, Charles Perrow digs deeply to find some difficult but promising solutions. Concerned citizens must join the experts in reading this brilliant book."--Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School professor, best-selling author of Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End

The Next Catastrophe is a fascinating, stimulating, and far-reaching work. Perrow's signature themes are here--the role of political and economic institutions, the reach of their power into organizations, and the inevitability of major organizational failures. The basic argument will stir discussion, and the feasibility of Perrow's proposed solutions is sure to provoke controversy."--Lynn Eden, author of Whole World on Fire: Organizations, Knowledge, and Nuclear Weapons Devastation

"Perrow's thesis is laudable and his execution is strong. When he discusses the mistakes still being made in the way the U.S. has set up FEMA and Homeland Security, he is especially strong balanced, thoughtful, and convincing--and his explanation of the Enron debacle is one of the clearest ever presented. Overall, he analyzes how our organizations fail, why it is that regulation doesn't solve the problems, and how susceptible we have become as a result, doing so in a way that is just plain splendid."--William R. Freudenburg, University of California, Santa Barbara

"Charles Perrow is the undisputed 'master of disaster.' In this timely and well-written book, Perrow offers not only a shrewd sociological diagnosis of the looming threat of (un)natural disasters, but, lo and behold, in arguing for us to shrink targets and disperse risk, he actually provides a bold yet feasible policy solution to what will surely be a growing threat to our way of life."--Dalton Conley, author of The Pecking Order: A Bold New Look at How Family and Society Determine Who We Become

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File created: 11/11/2014

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