August 18, 2008

Book Review - Lessons of Disaster

During every disaster, public officials question what can be done to prevent it from happening again. Inquiries and investigations after the fact often uncover problems or unpreparedness, and reports are written in order to record "lessons" that can be "learned" from these situations. Birkland looks critically at this process and examines whether the "lessons" are really internalized by governments and that the information "learned" is put to practical use. He begins by putting forward a model of how learning occurs and how policy changes are made. This model is then tested by examining airline and homeland security, earthquakes, and hurricanes using the events of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina as a starting point. At the end of each chapter, the analysis is summed up and some conclusions are made. The final chapter, however, reassesses the learning model. It asserts that lessons are not really being learned because little real policy change is occurring as a result.

This book can be found in HECSA Library:

Lessons of Disaster: Policy Change after Catastrophic Events
Thomas A. Birkland
JK 468 .P64 B585 2006