THE MAGAZINE

Chaos Organization and Disaster Management

By Crawford Robinson

Chaos Organization and Disaster Management. By Alan Kirschenbaum; published by Marcel Dekker, www.dekker.com (Web); 336 pages; $79.95.

As suggested by the title, this book could be perceived as an academic treatise with little benefit for security practitioners. Doing so would be a lost opportunity to learn from an author rich in experience with disaster management in his homeland of Israel and elsewhere. This book is, in fact, an eye-opening analysis of disaster management, one that provides practical advice as well.

Author Alan Kirschenbaum’s writing is, at first, not easy to grasp. Patient readers, however, will discover that his ideas will challenge even the most knowledgeable disaster-management practitioners.

The opening chapters neatly set the scene by considering organizational models and the influence of various management styles. Asserting that political expedience and public image may override professionals’ better judgment when it comes to disaster planning and management, Kirschenbaum will make readers question their own motivations and choices. With that in mind, he leads readers down an avenue of constant exploration, probing the considerations of various stakeholders, the plethora of constraints on effective disaster management, and the bureaucratic inertia that can all too quickly subsume disaster management.

Kirschenbaum drifts occasionally into what could be considered excessive discussion of research methodology in defense of his often contentious views. It is obvious that he expected to be challenged on his ideas.

And Kirschenbaum never wavers on those ideas. He interweaves nettlesome issues, such as the political influence on disaster management, throughout. He not only raises these issues but also always provides positive opportunities for going forward.

The force of the arguments and the author’s firmness of conviction may unsettle experienced disaster management specialists, who are forced to look at the topic in a new way. Therein lies the dilemma: Readers will either loathe the challenges presented or love them. Anyone who accepts the challenge will find this book to be both intellectually stimulating and practical.


Reviewer: Crawford Robinson is detective chief inspector of the West Midlands Police in Coventry, United Kingdom. He is a member of ASIS International.

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