February 21, 2008

Book Review - Architectural Voices

Architectural Voices: Listening to Old Buildings
David Littlefield and Saskia Lewis
TH 3401 .L58 2007

Littlefield and Lewis present an interesting collection of essays. Some present old buildings on the precipice of transition. Others highlight transformations where old shells have taken on new internal structure. Several essays discuss the process from decay into ruin and whether that ruin has some quality or character worth preserving. Another handful show the relationship of outdoor spaces and placements to structure and indoor activities. This collection contains a mixture of case studies and think pieces which can help all of us--architects, historians, insiders, and outsiders alike--learn to listen to old buildings, appreciate their place in the past, and integrate them into our present and future.

Book Review - Rise and Fall of Indian Country, 1825-1855

The Rise and Fall of Indian Country, 1825-1855
William E. Unrau
E 93 .U9985 2007

Unrau takes an historical look at the concept of Indian country, a place designated for Native American life and improvement. Beginning with the Indian Trade and Intercourse Act of 1834 which sets out the boundaries of Indian country, Unrau shows that this concept was little more than a benevolent-sounding deception that facilitated white settlements west of the Missouri River. Although nearly half of the territory of the Louisiana Purchase was included in the land defined as Indian country, Unrau believes that there were many problems with this idea from the outset. Perhaps most well known, all of the tribes who were settled in Indian country had their territories compressed. Those tribes who were able to remain on lands of historical significance to them often had to share those lands. As a whole, Indian country's economic potential was most likely overvalued, particularly if the preferred way of life of the Native Americans was considered. Finally, federal involvement in Indian country is discussed, both in its involvement in railroads and other initiatives involving transportation and commercial traffic through Indian lands, as well as lack of Federal involvement in Indian affairs when laws and regulations were blatantly disregarded. This history illustrates the tenuous position that Native Americans had in the conceptualization and legal construction of the American west.

Book Review - Judgment

Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls
Noel M. Tichy and Warren G. Bennis
HD 57.7 .T496 2007

Tichy and Bennis believe that it is a leader's judgment, whether good or bad, which they are most remembered for. Using examples of real leaders, Tichy and Bennis have created a model that can be used to help decision making. They break the process into three phases: before a judgment call, decisive action, and execution. Surprisingly, the organization of chapters does not align with the discussion of this model. Instead, most chapters focus on different types of judgments that leaders will make--people, including preparing successive leaders, organizational strategy, judgments in crisis, teaching about judgment, and learning from judgment, both your own and that of others. This is an interesting concept, one that has received little attention in the leadership literature until now.

February 15, 2008

Book Review - The Endangered Species Act at Thirty

The Endangered Species Act at Thirty
v. 1 Renewing the Conservation Promise
v.2 Conserving Biodiversity in Human-Dominated Landscapes
ed. by Dale D. Goble, J. Michael Scott, Frank W. Davis
KF 5640 .E482 2006

This two-volume set published at the thirty year anniversary of the Endangered Species Act surveys what has been accomplished during this period.

The first volume overviews much of this fact-gathering. The first part details what has been protected over these last thirty years, primarily utilizing listings and statistics. The second part continues this overview, discussing in greater depth what conservation efforts have been accomplished. This section includes programs that have been established, ecosystems that are now regulated, and organizations whose sole work it is to protect the environment. The third part discusses where these efforts are leading. Some chapters focus on lessons that have been learned, keys to more effective collaborations, incentives, and ideas to reinvigorate conservation efforts in the future.

The second volume focuses on preserving species diversity. Its first part sets out the goals of this conservation effort, discussing the value of diversity, how species become at-risk, and timelines for some currently endangered species. The second part focuses on the science of conservation--how ecosystems are preserved, distinctive populations, critical habitats, some of the controversies surrounding this science. The third part demonstrates the complexity of policies and management of conservation efforts. Some of the factors discussed include economics, land use issues, agricultural, sea, and urban landscapes, and the positive and negative roles of humans in biodiversity.

The Chief of Engineers Recommends - Employing Generation Why?

Employing Generation Why? Understanding, Managing, and Motivating Your New Workforce
Eric Chester
HF 5549 .C54 2002

Most of us have heard of Generation X, but who is Generation Why? Chester defines Generation Why, called by others as Generation Y, as the group born between 1980 and 1994. He characterizes them using the question, "why?", because he believes that more than any other, this captures their outlook toward life, particularly toward work. Now a notable part of the workforce, Chester writes this book in hopes of bridging the communication gap between managers and these new employees, showing managers the value they can add to their organizations, but also that their different perspectives and priorities may require new approaches when motivating, training, and engaging them. This book is intended to be a practical manual. Organized in three main parts, it first defines Generation Why, highlighting both their positive traits as well as their negative ones. The second and most extensive part has direct recommendations and tips for workplace behavior. The third part has some communication recommendations, both ways to connect with Gen Whys and communication methods that are sure to make them disconnect. This book is full of practical and fun suggestions. It is a must read, not just for those who work with younger generations, but for anyone who wants to improve their communication skills, become more creative, and generally make themselves more open to change.

Book Review - Global Shadows

Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order
James Ferguson
JZ 1773 .F47 2006

In this book, anthropologist Ferguson challenges previously accepted notions of Africa as a place of failure and insurmountable problems. Rather than focus on local places, as many anthropologists and African scholars tend to do, Ferguson looks at the continent as a whole and its attempts to participate in the modern world. Individual chapters are dedicated to examinations of independence and national sovreignty, economics, and political power. Looking at a broad trend, Ferguson makes a case study of "African Renaissance," interestingly using modern technology as its carrier. Additional chapters also examine the ways in which African's strive to participate in the modern world, and contrast that with the rediscovery of their history and the roots of their own development. This book takes an unusual approach in the study of Africa and is a worthwhile read for anyone seeking to understand the effects of modernization and globalization on that continent.

February 12, 2008

Book Review - Power Mentoring

Power Mentoring: How Successful Mentors and Proteges get the Most Out of Their Relationships
Ellen Ensher and Susan Murphy
HF 5385 .E57 2005

Ensher and Murphy state that some of the most well known people have mentors and they assert that this mentoring relationship has been one of the keys to their success. Using research studies as well as one-on-one interviews with both mentors and proteges, Ensher and Murphy try to uncover what makes this pairing so successful. While they discuss several types of mentoring relationships, they conclude easily that the most successful mentoring relationships are those in which both the mentor and the protege gives something to and receives something from the other. Several chapters give recommendations on how to develop the relationship between mentor and protege. The authors conclude, however, by stating that they are still learning about mentoring themselves, putting learning at the center of this issue.

Book Review - Water Follies

Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America's Fresh Waters
Robert Glennon
TD 223 .G58 2002

This is a book about water resource management. Using numerous examples, Glennon demonstrates how water just does not go far enough given present usage levels. He examines numerous causes of water overuse--populated desert regions, suburbal sprawl, human water engineering, and competition with other resources--as well as the effects--loss of wetland ecosystem, increasing numbers of endangered species, water pollution, and simply decreasing availability of fresh water supplies. Using both present and historical examples, Glennon presents some aspect of the scale and complexity of the problems facing America's water supplies, as well as the independent as well as integrated solutions that will likely be required to reverse this problem.

February 6, 2008

Book Review - Restoring Diversity

Restoring Diversity: Strategies for Reintroduction of Endangered Plants
edited by Donald A. Falk, Constance I. Millar, and Margaret Olwell
QK 86.4 .R47 1996

This collection of essays captures both the broad and the focused perspectives of plant species restoration. The book is organized into four thematic sections. The first part provides a context for discussion of plant species reintroduction, addressing both environmental concerns and policies. The second part addresses the biology of species reintroduction. These chapters range from selection of species and reintroduction sites, monitoring projects, measuring success, and lessons learned from previous attempts. The third part focuses on plant reintroduction in special "mitigation" contexts. A variety of circumstances are considered here--rare plants, threatened ecosystems, privately-owned land, and created ecosystems. Again, lessons learned from previous projects are included. The final section contains plant reintroduction case studies. While most of these focus on individual plant species, one looks specifically at reintroduction of rare plants in a mountain ecosystem. While not prescriptive, this book realistically looks at many levels of complexity involved in species reintroduction and strives to be a practical manual by presenting lessons learned and case studies involving diverse conditions.

Book Review - Brand Sense

Brand Sense: Build Powerful Brands through Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight, and Sound
Martin Lindstrom
HD 69 .B7 L548 2005

Using data taken from a large international study, Lindstrom examines how the senses are involved in branding products. He argues that all five senses are actively involved in brand. By analyzing brands to which customers have the strongest loyalty, Lindstrom tries to assess which senses have the greatest impact on brand recognition. Using hundreds of examples, he highlights companies that have used individual senses well, those who play on multiple senses, and even those who failed to capitalize effectively on opportunities. Most importantly, he points out the importance of consistency of the branding across all platforms and products used by a company. This is a fascinating book which helps us to understand our own behavior as consumers as well as how to create this kind of branding for the organizations that we work for as well.

February 4, 2008

Book Review - Keepers of the Spring

Keepers of the Spring: Reclaiming Our Water in an Age of Globalization
Fred Pearce
TD 345 .P33 2004

Water resources have always been a source of political conflict. Pearce points out that those whose need for water--farmers and poor communities--often it is those very same groups who have neither the money nor the political clout to compete effectively for the resources that they require. Pearce asserts that todays water engineering projects are worsening the water crisis. By drawing a sharp contrast between large-scale water engineering projects and small-scale traditional water collection efforts, Pearce argues in favor of water "keepers," those who draw on traditional means to collect, store, and distribute the water that they need to survive. By combining these traditional practices with modern technology, Pearce believes that they are establishing a sustainable alternative that works with, rather than trys to control nature.

Book Review - Improving Workplace Performance

A Manager's Guide to Improving Workplace Performance
Roger Chevalier
HF 5549 .C4468 2007

Chevalier asserts that most workplace performance issues are not the fault of individual employees, but instead result from the workplace environment. He states that the job of the manager, then, is twofold: to coach individuals to develop themselves, and to create a workplace environment in which they are able to succeed. Organized in two broad categories, Chevalier first looks at how a work team is developed, both by working with individuals and fostering cooperation among them. Next, he addresses factors that contribute to poor performance and suggests ways in which managers can work to overcome these problems. This is a practical, step-by-step guide that can benefit coaches, leaders, and managers of all types.

February 1, 2008

Book Review - City Adrift

City Adrift: New Orleans Before and After Katrina
Jenni Bergal, Sara Shipley Hiles, Frank Koughan, John McQuaid, Jim Morris, Katy Reckdahl, Curtis Wilkie
HV 636 .N4 C58 2007

The devastation of Hurricane Katrina may perhaps be boiled down to a simple statement--"every system that could have protected New Orleans failed." Afterward, the Center for Public Integrity sent in a team of award-winning journalists to investigate how this could have happened in the United States in 21st century. This team, many of whom have personal connections to New Orleans, explore the storm and gathered information by talking with many of those involved. They analyze the political, social, geographical, technical, and communication failures that contributed to the breakdown in New Orleans. More importantly, however, they illuminate a path to correcting these problems so that a tragedy like this one does not happen again.

Book Review - The Evolution of National Wildlife Law

The Evolution of National Wildlife Law
3rd ed.
Michael J. Bean and Melanie J. Rowland
KF 5640 .B4 1997

Bean and Rowland present a straightforward history of the law pertaining to wildlife and conservation. The first part presents background on legal thought concerning the environment. It also presents the legal framework of commercial activities involving wildlife. The second part addresses species conservation laws, specifically addressing birds, fish, marine mammals, and endangered species. The third part looks specifically at wildlife, land and water, addressing how these resources are conserved, used, and developed. The fourth part shows how American wildlife laws fit into the international context, including the legal framework of native peoples. This very well referenced work addresses many specifics while at the same time showing trends within this rapidly expanding area of the law.