September 28, 2007

Book Review - Designing Greenways

Designing Greenways: Sustainable Landscapes for Nature and People
Paul Cawood Hellmund & Daniel Somers Smith
HT 241 .H45 2006

Building on a previous collaborative work, Ecology of Greenways, which focused on the ecology of spaces used by both humans and animals, Hellmund and Smith argue that conscientious design and planning is required to make outdoor spaces sustainable in the face of continuous use. In addition to considering the environmental aspects of outdoor design, this book also considers social components. Considerable attention is given to the function and use of outdoor spaces. Based on that understanding, designs are contemplated with the intention of sustaining that activity in an environmentally sensitive way. While numerous case studies draw attention to a wide variety of uses for outdoor spaces, the real contribution of this book is raising the questions that should be answered during landscape design projects.

Book Review - Go Put Your Strengths to Work

Are you working in the job most suited to your skills? Does your work energize you or drain you?

Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance
Marcus Buckingham
HF 5549.5 .M63 B825 2007

In a follow-up to his Now, Discover Your Strengths, Buckingham continues to develop the idea that people are happiest and most effective in jobs that require them to constantly use their skill strengths. This book focuses on how to implement these ideas to craft working conditions best suited to you. He begins with guidance on how to overcome barriers to change and summarizes methods that can be used to determine strengths. He then applies these to work environments, discussing how to select and refuse job offers, how to refine existing job duties to focus on strengths while minimizing or cutting out weaknesses. He also applies these ideas to creating working groups and teams that have a balance of the strengths necessary for their tasks. Finally, Buckingham discusses ways to make using strengths a life-long practice.

September 24, 2007

Book Review - Managing Sustainable Tourism

Tourism has grown steadily since the beginning of the 20th century. For many locales, it is the primary means of revenue. What other factors must be considered to maintain or grow the tourism industry?

Managing Sustainable Tourism: A Legacy for the Future
David L. Edgell, Sr.
G 156.5 .E26 E38 2006

The concept of sustainability is entering discussions of natural resources in many areas. No longer limited to areas of consumables such as fossil fuels or water, scholars see sustainability as a framework that can address the preservation and management of all things that humans are unable to recreate, most notably all environmental areas.

It seems natural, then, that any discussion of sustainable tourism would include concerns about development, ecotourism and adventure/discovery tours. However, this study goes beyond those subtopics to address the larger issue of whether the tourism industry itself can last, especially financially. Edgell addresses ways that the tourism industry can adapt to growing needs of consumers, particularly in areas of historical site management and cultural and heritage preservation and exploration. He provides numerous case studies that exemplify successful tourism programs and offers many tips to making existing travel options and experiences more sustainable, both environmentally and economically.

Book Review - PMBOK Guide, 3rd ed.

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge
3rd ed.
Project Management Institute
HD 69 .P75 G845 2004

This guide offers a systematic approach to defining and managing projects within an organization. It describes the project management process, identifies important participants, and outlines processes and procedures that are common for project teams. It includes sections that specifically address the management of time, cost, quality, human resources, communication, risk, and acquisitions. As a "body of knowledge," this book is full of useful diagrams, forms, and worksheets that project teams can adopt and use to guide their own work. This 3rd edition includes not only materials from the Project Management Institute, but also advice from practitioners that have become standard or "best practices."

September 21, 2007

Book Review - Security

How safe is your home or office?

Security Risk Assessment and Management: A Professional Practice Guide for Protecting Buildings and Infrastructures
Betty E. Bringer, Rudolph V. Matalucci and Sharon L. O'Connor
TH 9705 .B75 2007

Electronic Security Systems: A Manager's Guide to Evaluating and Selecting System Solutions
Robert L. Pearson
TH 9737 .P43 2007

These two books complement one another. Bringer, Matalucci, and O'Connor's work evaluates and characterizes buildings, determining their overall security risk and identifying specific weaknesses. They address how to reduce security risks and evaluate the effects of these actions on the people and work which occurs within. Included here is an example of how to put the theories and ideas discussed into practice.

Pearson's work picks up where the other authors left off. Pearson analyzes numerous security systems and access control methods, identifying the strengths, weaknesses, and potential uses of each. Some of the methods investigated include biometrics, wireless systems, security databases and others. Chapters near the end discuss testing, maintenance, and recent trends along with providing recommendations, tips, and discussions of how security personnel are involved with electronic systems.

Book Review - Storm World

With Hurricane Katrina, tsunamis in Southeast Asia, and other deadly storms not yet behind us, environmental scholars and politicians alike are seeing an increase in the frequency and severity of storms. Why?

Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle over Global Warming
Chris Mooney
QC 944 .M66 2007

Mooney, a native of the New Orleans area, writes passionately about this subject. His book examines different ways that scientists and environmentalists have looked at storms, particularly at hurricanes. His inclusion of personal anecdotes, both his own and many others, conveys a sense of frustration at the conflict and divide between the way scholars and politicians view these storms. Like many others, he asserts that the United States does not have adequate mechanisms for warning residents about approaching storms nor for addressing the destruction that they bring. He admonishes politicians to pay attention to scientists who believe that these storms, rather than being exceptions as in the past, are likely to occur more frequency and be more destructive in the future. This work includes numerous supporting and explanatory references from scientific literature, government sources, organizations, and new sources.

September 20, 2007

Book Review - Restoring...

Sustainable use and restoration are two major themes in environmental writing today. These three studies address the reasons why restoration is needed, what might be gained, and evaluate how this might be accomplished in the context of different regions and climates.

Restoring Natural Capital: Science, Business and Practice
Edited by James Aronson, Suzanne J. Milton, and James N. Blignaut
QH 541.15 .R47 2007

A Guide for Desert and Dryland Restoration: New Hope for Arid Lands
David Bainbridge
QH 88 .B35 2007

Restoring Colorado River Ecosystems: A Troubled Sense of Immensity
Robert W. Adler
QH 104 .C6 A35 2007

Each of these books takes a different approach to the topic of restoration. Aronson, Milton and Blignaut's edited collection of essays begins with the notion that the environment has intrinsic value. Contributing essays examine how this value is determined, maintained, and marketed. It looks at restoration efforts in a variety of climate conditions, focusing on the politics at local, national, and global levels to gain buy-in on environmental projects. Interwoven through many essays is also the idea that environmental programs will be supported and seen as successful if their "value" is used to generate revenue in some way.

Bainbridge and Adler's works each focus on a particular type of environment, desert and river respectively. These authors take a practical approach to addressing and restoring healthy, sustainable conditions in these arenas. They look at the problem, defining the end result that restoring these areas is seeking. The heart of both studies is identifying methods that might be used during the restoration process and analyzing their relative merits. The two studies conclude that the desired condition is increasing, but sustainable use. Monitoring, legal protection, and strategic thinking and planning are required once this point is reached.

Book Review - Public Integrity

With public officials, both elected and appointed, increasingly appearing in the news in connection with scandals, many Americans are disenchanted with the government.

Public Integrity
J. Patrick Dobel
JF 1525 .E8 D63 1999

Dobel, a professor of public affairs, examines the complex relationship between ethics and political life. He examines the linkages between these often competing forces both theoretically and practically, studying the level of the individual, the office, and the political system as a whole. Chapters look at temptations of power, realities of political life, and the erosion of character, particularly among career public officials. He also examines times of transitions, focusing on getting into office and resigning. He synthesizes his findings into conclusions that bring out commonalities, highlight the role of private life apart from that in the public eye, and suggests a wise path that politicians may follow to balance the competing forces.

September 18, 2007

Book Review - Summons of the Trumpet

Over 2 million Americans served their country in Vietnam. Why have they gone largely unappreciated?

Summons of the Trumpet: U.S.-Vietnam in Perspective
Dave Richard Palmer
DS 558 .P34 1995

This book provides a history of the relationship between the United States and Vietnam between 1954 and 1973. Palmer divides into phases. For the first decade, he characterizes the relationship between the United States and Vietnam as an advisory one. He points to 1965 as a decision point during which a state of war arose, though he describes armed conflict between the two nations earlier. In 1966-1967, he charaterizes a growing stalemate between the nations and a search on the part of the United States for a war strategy. 1968 stands out as the climax of the war. Palmer then suggests that from 1969 onward, leaders searched for a road toward peace, though the United States did not leave Vietnam until 1973. This study was originally written in 1978, but fact that this work has been reprinted without alteration demonstrates that Palmer's research and analysis have stood the test of time.

Book Review - No Yelling

The United States Marine Corps is known for being a small, tightly-knit family. How do its leaders develop such loyalty?

No Yelling: The 9 Secrets of Marine Corps Leadership You Must Know to Win in Business
Wally Adamchik
HD 57.7 .A336 2006

In this book, Adamchik shares the lessons that he learned as an officer in the Marine Corps that he believes made him successful both as a business entrepreneur and as a consultant. He begins with baseline expectations that people must be competent in their field and to base their work on their own unshakable personal values. From these derive behavior patterns--awareness of yourself and the message that you convey to others as well as the way that you treat the people around you. He describes commitments of senior leaders or management to grow leaders within their teams and to communicate clearly about the missions and goals of the organization. Finally, he explains how organizational culture, values and behaviors need to foster and reinforce both leadership personality traits and excellence at executing tasks by working together.

September 17, 2007

Book Review - Parks and Carrying Capacity

Are we overusing our National Parks? What does this mean for our use and care of natural resources generally?

Parks and Carrying Capacity: Commons without Tragedy
Robert E. Manning
SB 486 .P83 M36 2007

This book begins by drawing on the work of Garrett Hardin, The Tragedy of the Commons, written in the 1960's. Hardin examines what happens to "common use space" when no one is directly responsible for its care. It is from this study that the concept of "carrying capacity" was developed. Manning extends this work by providing case studies and multiple analysis methods to determine the carrying capacity for National Parks. Based on a belief that these parks are intended for use, he puts forward a series of alternatives that can be used to manage National Parks, making them a sustainable resource. Toward the end of this study, Manning broadens his discussion to all environmental and natural resources. Using National Parks as a case study, Manning suggests that all resources can be analyzed to determine their capacity for use and argues that it is necessary to determine mutually acceptable ways to make other resources sustainable as well. This provacative book includes sample analyses and an extensive bibliography.

Book Review - The Army after Next

What will the Army look like in the future? How will technology be integrated with soldiers?

The Army after Next: The First Postindustrial Army
Thomas K. Adams
UA 25 .A67 2006

Adams lays out the agenda of his book in its introduction. He explains that the Department of Defense is attempting to move toward a smaller, but more deadly fighting force. In this process, they are reorganizing, integrating technological advances to improve information gathering and communication, and shifting toward air power-driven strategies and tactics to minimize their own loss of life. At the same time, the necessities of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated that the Army's traditionally large, heavily armed ground force has seen successes against the guerilla warfare of the insurgents where air-centric tactics would be inappropriate. Adams believes that it is this conflict that lies at the root of military "transformation." His detailed and heavily documented study examines the roots and visions behind military transformation, the integration of technology, the role that war in Iraq has played in altering both vision and reality of military activities, and possible outcomes for the future American fighting force.

September 14, 2007

Book Review - The American Way of War

The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy
Russell F. Weigley
UA 23 .W3695 1977

This textbook of American military policy divides the country's history into five phases. Chapters on the establishment and solidification of the nation look at the colonial and federal periods, 1775-1815. America's "childhood" is then examined. The period from 1815-1890 is seen by Weigley as the formative years of the establishment of American military strategy and priorities. From 1890-1941, the study focuses on America's transition from a local military power to a player in the world. World War II from 1941-1945 is seen as the successful culmination of military strategies developed in earlier periods. Weigley concludes his study by analyzing strategies and complications from World War II until the Vietnam War. Readers will want to supplement this text with additional materials that address United States military activities since the late 1970's when this book was published.

Book Review - Visual Explanations

How do you understand the things that you see?

Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Nature
Edward R. Tufte
P 93.5 .T846 1997

In his introduction, Tufte explains that his book has two primary motivations: to explain principles and logic behind depicting quantitative information visually and to examine design strategies for how best to convey information through images as in narrative. The early chapters of his book provide numerous examples of how information, often stories, events, or explanations are conveyed through graphs, charts, pictures, maps, and other visual media. He demonstrates how they eye can be visually fooled to "see" something that is not present and how small design decisions lead toward clarity or confusion when conveying information visually. He carefully analyzes characteristics that contribute to understandable visualizations, including concepts of repetition, uniqueness, comparison, size, shape, and placement. Finally, he demonstrates how multiple "storylines" can be told through a single image. This book has become a classic in the field of cartography and visualization.

September 12, 2007

Book Review - Design of Highway Bridges

Design of Highway Bridges: An LRFD Approach
2nd Edition
Richard M. Barker, Jay A. Puckett
TG 300 .B38 2007

This textbook of bridge engineering is aimed at higher-level undergraduates and early-career graduate students. It takes a systematic approach to this topic, first by describing different types of bridges, providing examples, and defining roles of many key players involved in their creation. It moves on to discuss aesthetic, architectural, and design concerns. Engineering topics such as load, strength, and environmental effects occupy the heart of this text. Long chapters focusing on concrete bridges and steel bridges help put theories presented earlier into the context of real problems.

Book Review - Licensed to Kill

Who is fighting in the war on terror?

Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror
Robert Young Pelton
HV 6432 .P45 2006

In addition to the thousands of United States troops that are on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan, and surrounding areas, this book brings attention to American civilians working in the intelligence community and numerous contractors who have been hired for security operations and mercenary activities. Receiving considerably less attention in Pelton's almost story-like description of those fighting in the Middle East are international troops. Some serve in the military or quasi-military organizations representing their countries, but more than that have parlayed their past military experience into jobs with contracting companies. This book does not provide much discussion about how this field of contracting has evolved. Instead, Pelton describes the daily life and activities of these security contractors, their motivation, and the role that they play in this armed conflict.

September 7, 2007

Book Review - The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability

The Designer's Atlas of Sustainability
Ann Thorpe
HC 79 .E5 T486 2007

Does it seem unusual that this author would choose compile an atlas of a complex topic? Ann Thorpe states that this book reflect her "own global travels through ideas of sustainability." This book focuses on four themes--ecology, economy, culture, and frontiers--and shows how sustainable design addresses those questions. The book is extensively illustrated. The author also includes numerous examples to clarify her understanding of the relationship between concepts. References and further readings are included for each chapter.

September 5, 2007

Book Review - Spunk & Bite

How confident are you in your writing abilities? Do you simply convey messages clearly or does your personality leap off of the written page?

Spunk & Bite: A Writer's Guide to Punchier, More Engaging Language & Style
Arthur Plotnik
PN 147 .P55 2005

Once you've mastered the basics of putting together a coherent sentence, Plotnik argues that you need to "kick it up a notch." This author clearly has fun with words and enjoys writing. This book makes the point that using language in fun, inventive, and active ways makes writing come alive and does a better job of conveying the message of the writer. Plotnik suggests using language that has "freshness," "color," and "texture." He also advises readers to pay attention to the "music" of their writing, to select words that are modern, and to write with "force." Though he plays with words, Plotnik is grounded in the concepts of clear writing and proper grammatical structure. Guidelines on punctuation, sentence fragments, and beginning, ending, and transition words are liberally sprinkled throughout his text. This book is an engaging guide for everyone hoping to improve their written communication skills.

September 4, 2007

Book Review - Understanding & Managing Public Organizations

Organizations are dynamic, and therefore require that their structure and management be changing constantly. How does this apply specifically to governemental and non-profit organizations?

Understanding and Managing Public Organizations
Hal G. Rainey
JF 1351 .R27 2003

This textbook-like study takes an academic approach to the examination of public, particularly governmental organizations. Rainey first sets out to explain what makes this kind of organizations distinctive, the effects that they can exert, and the role that political power can play when exerted on them. He then dissects organizations and their management into key components, analyzing how goals are set, decisions are made, the organization is structured and how it communicates. He also looks at human factors within these organizations, including what motivates people to work in government, how these attitudes translate into work ethic, the roles of leaders, managers, organizational culture, and teamwork. Finally, he puts forward strategies for organizational change, development and improvement.

Book Review - The Great Lakes Water Wars

In the past few years we've seen an increasing number of conflicts over water. Since it covers over half of the earth's surface, what could possibly make water so contentious?

The Great Lakes Water Wars
Peter Annin
HD 1695 .G69 A56 2006

A note from author Peter Annin opens this book. He states that rather than discussing the history of armed conflicts on the Great Lakes, he instead plans to focus on the growing confusion and debate surrounding water use rights in that area. Annin's study focuses around a plan put forward by the American Governers and Canadian Premiers of the territories bordering the five Great Lakes, as well as the history of water use in the region that leads up to it. This plan is designed to protect the waters within these lakes from diversion and overuse. However, it has raised emotions and caused confusion among many, making his analogy to a war quite appropriate. His book is organized to describe the situation and the history behind its development, the "battle lines" and "skirmishes" that have already broken out in this conflict, and the current state of agreement in the Water Resources Development Act as well as lines of continuing discussion.