Charles Perrow is famous worldwide for his ideas about normal accidents, the notion that multiple and unexpected failures--catastrophes waiting to happen--are built into our society's complex systems. In The Next Catastrophe, he offers crucial insights into how to make us safer, proposing a bold new way of thinking about disaster preparedness.
Perrow argues that rather than laying exclusive emphasis on protecting targets, we should reduce their size to minimize damage and diminish their attractiveness to terrorists. He focuses on three causes of disaster--natural, organizational, and deliberate--and shows that our best hope lies in the deconcentration of high-risk populations, corporate power, and critical infrastructures such as electric energy, computer systems, and the chemical and food industries. Perrow reveals how the threat of catastrophe is on the rise, whether from terrorism, natural disasters, or industrial accidents. Along the way, he gives us the first comprehensive history of FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security and examines why these agencies are so ill equipped to protect us.
The Next Catastrophe is a penetrating reassessment of the very real dangers we face today and what we must do to confront them. Written in a highly accessible style by a renowned systems-behavior expert, this book is essential reading for the twenty-first century. The events of September 11 and Hurricane Katrina--and the devastating human toll they wrought--were only the beginning. When the next big disaster comes, will we be ready? In a new preface to the paperback edition, Perrow examines the recent (and ongoing) catastrophes of the financial crisis, the BP oil spill, and global warming.
Charles Perrow is professor emeritus of sociology at Yale University. He has worked as a consultant for the U.S. military, the White House, and the nuclear-power industry.
"[Perrow's] 1984 book Normal Accidents and his many publications analyzing how and why technological systems are vulnerable to disaster have achieved iconic status. In The Next Catastrophe, Perrow extends his analysis to incorporate 'natural' disasters and terrorism more fully."--American Prospect
"Perrow amply describes the failure of governmental agencies to anticipate, plan for and effectively respond to a whole series of very serious threats to our well being, if not to our very survival. . . . This is a sobering book. If enough people hear Perrow's message, the future might be ever so slightly less catastrophic."--Social Forces
"The threefold demographic vulnerabilities to disasters [described by Perrow] are well stated and merit continuing attention from scientists, engineers, emergency management practitioners, and policy makers."--American Journal of Sociology
"This book proposes a bold new way of thinking about disaster preparedness...Focusing on three causes of disaster--natural, organizational, and deliberate--he shows that our best hope lies in the deconcentration of high-risk populations, corporate power, and critical infrastructures. He also provides the first comprehensive history of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and examines why these agencies are so ill equipped to protect U.S. citizens."--Natural Hazards Observer
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Charles Perrow: