March 31, 2008

Book Review - Professional Integrity

Professional Integrity: Thinking Ethically
Michael S. Pritchard
BJ 1725 .P752 2006

Many books on ethics focus on what we are not supposed to do. In contrast, Pritchard's work centers around how people should act and how to encourage them to aspire to higher callings. Early chapters discuss practical ethics, the development of trust, truthfulness, and good judgement. He asserts that professional ethics include all of these characteristics. He uses anecdotes and personal stories from a wide range of professionals to demonstrate how they have been called to act beyond the bounds of their job requirements. Pritchard integrates the philosophies of ethics with the practical requirements of today's work environments and societies. His latter chapters discuss how these qualities can be taught and strengthened, in professional development, education, and even when raising children.

Book Review - Consuming Nature

Consuming Nature: Environmentalism in the Fox River Valley, 1950-1950
Gregory Summers
GE 198 .F69 S86 2006

Summers argues that modern environmentalism has its roots in people's need to consume and use natural resources. He begins his book by highlighting a case study involving the Fox River in Wisconsin. Traditionally a paper manufacturing area, he demonstrates how the feelings of local residents changed toward the river and the manufacturing that it supported once outdoor recreation became popular around the river. Once concerned only about the economic support that the paper manufacturing industry provided for the local area, people's feelings shifted toward intolerance of the pollution that the factories dumped into the river and the increasing desire for aesthetically beautiful surroundings. Summers then places this case study into a larger framework by citing similar concerns in small communities throughout the United States. Not only had a legal challenge concerning the Fox River attracted national attention, but other local conflicts reinforced the changing ideas about the environment. This is an interesting study on its own, but it is particularly valuable as a contribution to the discussion of growing concern about the environment in the scholarly literature.

March 28, 2008

Book Review - Total Cold War

Total Cold War: Eisenhower's Secret Propaganda Battle at Home and Abroad
Kenneth Osgood
E 183.8 .S65 O82 2006

Osgood takes a new look at American involvement in the Cold War. Rather than focus on competing political ideologies or competition for allies, Osgood looks at the deliberate propaganda campaigns that the Eisenhower administration used, not only in the United States, but aimed at most other countries in the world as well. He asserts that the American struggle against communism was one fought across the world through covert operations as well as psychological warfare programs. He discusses the ways in which everyday life in America was portrayed around the world as well as how the arms and space races with communist countries were depicted in the United States. Based on recently declassified U.S. documents, Osgood reveals a new side of President Eisenhower and the programs carried out by executive agencies that he sanctioned. This book will make readers suspicious of the international diplomatic activities as well as domestic policy agendas of our national leaders.

Book Review - Do (Not) Feed the Bears

Do (Not) Feed the Bears: The Fitful History of Wildlife and Tourists in Yellowstone
Alice Wondrak Biel
QL 737 .C27 W65 2006

This book takes a humorous approach to the serious topic of human interaction with wildlife, particularly in Federal parks. Biel traces the origins of popular feelings about bears, discussing how zoos, circuses, and television have portrayed bears as nearly tame. She explains how it was common practice, almost a requirement to use food to bring bears close when visiting Yellowstone National Park. As people's ideas about nature changed during the 20th century, so also did the mission and goals of the National Park Service shift. Beyond seeing their role as caretakers of preserved lands used for recreation, the Park Service also began to see itself as conservators and protectors of the land and wildlife who lived on it. Armed with scientific research, the Park Service sought to educate people about the species and their habitats. This is a fascinating study about the shifting American ideas about the environment made approachable by focusing on feelings about bears.

March 27, 2008

Book Review - Electric Power System Basics

Electric Power System Basics for the Nonelectrical Professional
Steven W. Blume
TK 1001 .B58 2007

This book explains the basics of electrical power systems in practical, non-technical terms. It provides and overview of the concepts, terminology, design and construction practices, requirements for effective operation, and standards used in the electrical industry. The book does not assume that the reader has much previous knowledge or experience on this topic, but instead provides all necessary information here in the form of formulas, graphs, charts, diagrams, and other visual means to help clarify textual descriptions. This volume is particularly useful as an introduction to electrical systems for professionals in other, related industries, as well as for others interested in getting started on electrical work.

Book Review - Disaster

Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of Homeland Security
Christopher Cooper and Robert Block
HV 636 .G85 C66 2006

In this critical assessment of the events after Hurricane Katrina, Cooper and Block investigate the actions of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Homeland Security and the Bush administration. By looking at the events chronologically, they discovered that facts were ignored, bad decisions were made, and numerous individuals who were aware of problems ignored them. The authors conclude that this disaster was mismanaged at all levels. Stepping back somewhat from the hurricane and response to it, Cooper and Block place this event into the context of American and world events occurring simultaneously. They assert that the Bush administration's singular focus on terrorist threats made it unprepared to effectively respond to a threat of another type, in this case, a natural disaster. They intend for this book, particularly its last several chapters, to be a wake-up call about how vulnerable the United States was and still remains to attacks of all sorts.

March 24, 2008

Book Review - The World Without Us

The World Without Us
Alan Weisman
GF 75 .W455 2007

constructs images of what would happen to the world if people were just to disappear. He explains how most human-built infrastructure would be crushed and integrated into geological formations, how nature would Weisman takes a radical approach to answering the questions about the impact of people on the earth: he asks us to envision the world without humanity. Drawing on research and experience of scientists, conservationists, religious and philosophical leaders, historians, and paleontologists, Weismanresurge and revert to a wild state, and how man-made materials such as plastic will be the longest lasting evidence of our existence. Although there is an extensive bibliography of source materials used, this book contains no footnotes connecting facts and ideas to individual works. Nonetheless, this fascinating work suggests that environmental preservation need not be so extreme to be successful.

Book Review - Counterinsurgency Field Manual

Counterinsurgency Field Manual
U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps
U 241 .U79 2007

This manual changes how the American military conducts its business. Prepared during the Cold War to fight conventional battles, the American military was required to change its tactics after 9/11 to fight insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq. Forewards by GEN David H. Petraeus, LTG James F. Amos and LTC John A. Nagl note that many lessons regarding unconventional warfare learned during the Vietnam war had been lost. This manual was written largely to rediscover those lessons and to incorporate the learning that has taken place in the Middle Eastern theaters to date. This University of Chicago edition is also published as U.S. Army Field Manual no. 3-24 and Marine Corps Warfighting Publication no. 3-33.5. It is designed to take a general approach to counterinsurgency (COIN) operations, providing doctrine addressing offensive, defensive, and peacekeeping strategies that can be adapted to specific local situations. Its foundation is that leaders be constantly learning about their environment and adapting their operations, tactics, and leadership to those conditions. Perhaps more than any other title, this book describes how the American military operates today.

Book Review - Federal Historic Preservation Laws

Federal Historic Preservation Laws: The Official Compilation of U.S. Cultural Heritage Statutes
2006 ed.
U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service
KF 4310 .A3 2006

This fourth version of Federal Historic Preservation Laws contains twenty-four statutes that are key to historic preservation and the protection of American cultural heritage. Because there are so many programs and agencies which are involved in historic and cultural preservation efforts, there are additional laws not included in this collection which are also relevant in this field. Developed over the course of the 20th century, cultural preservation in the United States began with the establishment of the National Park Service, and has since broadened its application to other public lands, communities, structures, and objects. This book arranges the laws chronologically so that this developmental process is readily apparent. This book serves as a starting point for those interested in preservation issues as well as a guide to finding additional federal government information on this topic.

March 17, 2008

Book Review - Oil, Profits, and Peace

Oil, Profits, and Peace: Does Business have a Role in Peacemaking?
Jill Shankleman
HD 9560.5 .S438 2006

The discovery of oil in developing countries presents an interesting quandry. Because of its extensive use around the world, oil has the potential to bring a tremendous influx of wealth into these countries. It is, however, capital intensive to produce, requiring an up-front investment before any oil profits can be realized. Developing countries are often politically unstable and rife with corruption. Not only does this make it difficult for the nation to do business with international oil companies, but it also suggests that profits realized may be diverted to other things, never being used for development programs and not reaching the population. This book focuses on these conflicts. It examines the links between oil and gas resources and political conflict within the producing countries. It considers the role of corporations in the production process, including their social responsibilities and the need to look beyond short term profits to the wider role that natural resources plan in national politics, economic well-being, and international peace. This is a thought-provoking and very timely study.

Book Review - The Storm

The Storm: What Went Wrong and Why During Hurricane Katrina - The Inside Story from One Louisiana Scientist
Ivor Van Heerden and Mike Bryan
HV 636 .G85 V36 2007

An expert on disaster planning, Van Heerden has spent years warning about the possibility of a devistaing flood in New Orleans. After the hurricane, he was one of the first to challenge the official version of events and led the official Louisiana state investigation into the causes of the flood. He discovered construction inadequacies in the levees that protected the city and investigated the failures of city politicians and federal agencies that prevented a swift and effective response to the disaster. Although the vast majority of the book is spent revealing the findings of his investigation and criticizing the participants who both caused the disaster and those who did not take corrective actions, he also puts forward a plan that he believes could prevent another Katrina-like disaster from happening in the future.

March 14, 2008

Book Review - Plan B 3.0

Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization
Lester R. Brown
HC 79 .E5 B7596 2008

Brown believes that the human race has set in motion a process in which the environmental changes that the earth is undergoing threaten to destroy civilization. He asks his readers, "Have we reached the tipping point?" Brown asserts that little time remains and that we must act now, drastically changing our behavior to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, find alternate sources of energy, replant forests to use excess carbon dioxide, and reverse global warming. In the first part of his book, Brown presents a detailed analysis of environmental changes that threaten the world. In the second part, he presents "Plan B"--drastic changes in the way that humans consume energy and foodstuffs necessary to halt and even reverse the current environmental trends and other factors that threaten human existence. Part three, serves as both a conclusion to his analysis and proposed solution, but also a hypothetical look at possible positive outcomes for society if Plan B were adopted. This is a very thought provoking book that asks readers to think about environmental issues not on their own, but as inextricably linked to society, human behavior, and global survival.

Book Review - Africa's Stalled Development

Africa's Stalled Development: International Causes & Cures
David K. Leonard and Scott Straus
HC 800 .L465 2003

Leonard and Straus examine why the African continent has not developed similarly to the rest of the world. The book opens with an explanation of the political context of the African content. The second chapter discusses aid provided by wealthier nations and incentives for African development. Chapter three focuses on technical assistance provided by other nations and the racism, real or perceived, that is intertwined with it. Civil conflict in Africa is discussed at length, with one chapter focusing on causes and another exploring international humanitarian efforts in Africa. The authors conclude that African development is stalled because of its historical experiences and the absence of appropriate political and economic structures, not due to any cultural factors. They include recommendations on how development might be assisted more effectively, including current efforts that they feel are undermining or at cross purposes with African social structures. This book is thoroughly researched, with extensive notes to each chapter and bibliographical references.

March 13, 2008

Book Review - Patrolling Baghdad

Patrolling Baghdad: A Military Police Company and the War in Iraq
Mark R. DePue
DS 79.764 .U6 D34 2007

DePue describes the early days of the War in Iraq from the perspective of the 233rd Military Police Company, whose responsibility it was to help restore police control of Baghdad. The 233rd was a key part of the American force to occupy Iraq in 2003 and was the first unit specifically tasked with patrolling Baghdad. While they worked to restore order and rebuild the Iraqi police force, they also experienced firsthand the conflict's broader issues. The difficulty of their task exposed shortcomings in the prewar planning related to internal security in Iraq. They witnessed the culture clash between the occupying forces and the Iraqis. They saw inhumanity in the lootings, shootings, and bombings as groups of Iraqis turned on one another, yet participated in demonstrations of great compassion working to reopen Iraqi schools and help orphaned children in the neighborhoods that they patrolled. This study based on interviews with military police soldiers of the 233rd and others individuals associated with their unit brings individual people and voices to the forefront while at the same time providing a window into the experience of all of the military and security operations going on in Iraq.

Book Review - 1776

David McCullough
E 208 .M396 2005

McCullough brings to life the early history of the American Revolutionary War by telling the story of the soldiers who fought. Using extensive research from both American and British archives, McCullough tells the stories of the men in the ranks. Among the American troops, this is the story of the common man, often a tradesman or farmer, who volunteered to serve in the colonial Army. In contrast, the British redcoats were professional soldiers, trained and highly disciplined. This story necessarily also examines General George Washington and two patriots, Nathanael Greene and Henry Knox, who served as his lieutenants. This book focuses on the opening battles of the Revolutionary War--the Seige of Boston, Battle of Brooklyn, and the retreat and regrouping that followed. This is not only a history, but also an example of how leadership and strategy is developed.

March 12, 2008

Book Review - Sustainability Advantage

The Sustainability Advantage: Seven Business Case Benefits of a Triple Bottom Line
Bob Willard
HD 30.255 .W54 2002

Willard demonstrates that environmental and social considerations should be considered primary in the pursuit of effective business strategy. He asserts that there are seven benefits that this approach will bring to the companies who pursue it: increased ability to hire talented employees, higher retention of that talent, increased employee productivity, reduced expenses in manufacturing, reduced commercial expenses, increased market share and revenue, and reduction of corporate risk. Willard demonstrates each of these benefits by walking his readers through the business development and planning processes for a theoretical company. These exercises are also available for use in real business scenarios. In addition, numerous examples of these individual benefits are shown in anecdotes about actual companies. This is a persuasive argument and a process that would be beneficial for all companies to use to better position themselves.

Book Review - Acting for Endangered Species

Acting for Endangered Species: The Statutory Ark
Shannon Peterson
KF 5640 .P48 2002

Peterson presents legal history that has emerged from the Endangered Species Act. Passed in 1973 with little dissent or discussion, the endangered species act is one of the strongest legal tools currently available to fight for environment. Since becoming law, however, this act has become increasingly controversial. This book examines how this controversy has come about, pointing to politicians who have tried to curtail its power and complained about the expenses that it authorizes as well as to environmentalists who have worked to expand the scope and power of this act and to use its power as a tool to acheive other environmental goals. The book is divided into three parts. The first traces legislative efforts beginning in the late 19th century to protect endangered species. The second and third parts analyze the two most important controversies generated by this law: the snail darter, a fish that prevented the building of a dam, and the spotted owl, whose habitat has gotten in the way of logging. This short book thoroughly researched and offers an extensive number of references to legal materials, news articles, scientific research, and personal opinions about the importance of species preservation.

Book Review - Causes of War and the Consequences of Peacekeeping in Africa

The Causes of War and the Consequences of Peacekeeping in Africa
edited by Ricardo Rene Laremont
DT 30.5 .C38 2002

This collection of essays examines numerous attempts at peacekeeping in Africa. Analyses include discussions about the assumptions made and strategies taken in these efforts, as well as the advantages and disadvantages that have emerged from them. Three introductory essays set the context for numerous case studies that follow. Causes or war are discussed, the African continent is placed in the context of work geopolitics, and factors unique to Africa are brought to the forefront. The case studies examine a wide range of African places, delving deeply into the security and peacekeeping issues specific to nations and regions in Africa. The book ends by discussing several political challenges that are common across Africa and highlighting lessons that have been learned in peacekeeping efforts to date.

March 10, 2008

Book Review - Churchill and his Generals

Churchill & His Generals
Raymond Callahan
D 759 .C256 2007

In this book, Callahan reexamines the effectiveness and leadership within the British Army during World War II. Primarily trained as a policing force to serve in the colonies prior to the outbreak of war, the British Army performed poorly at the outset of the war. Callahan takes a close look at the successes and failures of numerous British field commanders. He also examines their relationship with Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who was constantly concerned about his political position and often had very differing opinions and ideas about how the war should be fought than his field commanders. This book takes Britain's war aims into account when evaluating campaign successes. Considerable attention is paid to the many and varied theaters of conflict in which British troops were engaged as well as the challenges of equiping, training, and filling the ranks from Britain's island base of operations.

Book Review - Site Analysis

Site Analysis: A Contextual Approach to Sustainable Land Planning and Site Design
2nd ed.
James A. LaGro, Jr.
NA 2540.5 .L34 2008

LaGro believes that site planning based on a site's inherent physical opportunities and limitations leads to higher quality, attractive places to live, work, and play. This second edition, revised and expanded, maintains the focus of the earlier edition's site planning process. The book is divided into sections that address the planning process and planning tools, site selection, site inventory and analysis, and conceptual design and implementation. In addition to full discussion of the principles involved, this book includes numerous case studies and examples, including many pictures which illustrate the ideas being discussed.

March 7, 2008

Book Review - Presidential Temples

Presidential Temples: How Memorials and Libraries Shape Public Memory
Benjamin Hufbauer
E 176.1 .H845 2005

Hufbauer examines the physical commemorations of presidents, focusing on those in the last century. He observes that most of these physical entities--whether monuments, buildings such as libraries, or museum exhibits--are crafted to play up their accomplishments, focus on higher meanings or purposes, and drastically underplay or minimize the negative legacies or controversies of their administrations. Hufbauer observes that increasingly, presidents have taken over the crafting of their own commemorations. Drawing from numerous examples, he concludes that the time, effort, and cost of these commemorations are a sign of American preoccupation with celebrity and play a significant role in our collective political and cultural self-image as Americans. He also sees this post-administration activity as a way that presidents feed the economies of their home state and extend their executive authority. He suggests that this trend is problematic, as authentic presidential history will be difficult to discern from presidential myth. This is a thought-provoking book that examines how culture and history are developed, manipulated, and often intertwined.

Book Review - Indian Gaming and Tribal Sovereignty

Indian Gaming and Tribal Sovereignty: The Casino Compromise
Steven Andrew Light and Kathryn R. L. Rand
E 98 .G18 L54 2005

Light and Rand investigate the laws and political controversies surrounding Native American-run casinos. The Indian gaming community is often accused of corruption, criminal ties, or using the name of the tribe to shelter an unrelated business. Some tribes, however, argue that gaming has strengthened tribal governments by uniting them behind a single venture and improved life on reservations by bringing money into the communities. Light and Rand stress that tribal sovereignty is the very notion that allows Indian casinos to exist. This sovereignty, however, is subjected to close congressional authority and gaming on reservations is even more strictly regulated through the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. This book explores the varied experiences of different tribes relative to gaming--some wildly successful, others who chose not to pursue gaming at all--discussing this in the framework of a unique opportunity for Native Americans to exercise their tribal self-determination.

March 5, 2008

Book Review - General Ashcroft

General Ashcroft: Attorney at War
Nancy V. Baker
KF 373 .A74 B35 2006

Baker offers this critical examination of the Attorney General's office and discusses the impact that Ashcroft had, particularly after the events of 9/11. She asserts that in his early months in office, Ashcroft was a man in search of a mission and that he found it in the War on Terror. She analyzes how the actions of Ashcroft personally and in his professional capability to strengthen counterterrorism efforts increased the power of the executive office in domestic affairs and eroded the checks and balances between the Executive and Judical branches of our government. She examines the rhetoric employed by Ashcroft as well as his actions. She also debates the success that Ashcroft had in protecting America by pointing out the failure in key Justice Department prosecutions. Finally, she closely examines the Patriot Act and other post 9/11 laws, highlighting the implications on government power and civil liberties. Taking an unquestionably critical position, Baker intends to point out the influence that an attorney general can play in shaping presidential power and to draw attention to how a national crisis can be used to shift the balance of power within government and between those in power and the people they represent.

Book Review - Why New Orleans Matters

Why New Orleans Matters
Tom Piazza
F 379 .N557 P53 2005

This is an examination of place and the spirit that inhabits it. In the days during and after Hurricane Katrina, people around the world were focused on New Orleans. What is it about the city and its people that fascinates and inspires attention from others who have never visited there? A long time New Orleans resident, Piazza tries to explain the culture, traditions, and people of New Orleans. He discusses Mardi Gras, jazz, Cajun and Creole food, architecture, and the human relations that contribute to the city's uniqueness and explores the place that New Orleans and its people have earned in the eyes of the rest of the world.

March 4, 2008

Book Review - Intervention & Transnationalism in Africa

Intervention & Transnationalism in Africa: Global-Local Networks of Power
edited by Thomas Callaghy, Ronald Kassimir, Robert Latham
JQ 1875 .I68 2001

This collection of essays explores the effects of globalism in Africa. Specifically, the authors are interested in how external forces and events influence the politics and policies of nation-states, transnational, and subnational communities in Africa. Of particular interest to the authors are "transborder formations"--intersections of influential forces that produce, threaten, or destroy the order and political stability of nation-states and local community. The authors frame their discussion in the probability of increasing international intervention and growing complexity in the political forces at work within the African continent. While these authors take political science and area studies approaches to their subject material, this book will also be of interest to geographers, strategists, and those interested in emerging influences from around the globe.

Book Review - Endangered Species Recovery

Endangered Species Recovery: Finding the Lessons, Improving the Process
edited by Tim W. Clark, Richard P. Reading, Alice L. Clarke
QL 84.2 E55 1994

The goal of this collection of essays is to improve the processes that are used to protect and restore endangered species. Organized in four parts, the first portion of the book provides an overview of the topic focusing on the history, successes, and failures of the Endangered Species Act. The second part presents a series of case studies. These species recovery programs are analyzed to find their strengths and weaknesses, to uncover problems that have been encountered, and to find ways to improve the processes involved. The third part employs a series of theoretical perspectives, resulting in a collection of think pieces that postulate alternative approaches to addressing the challenges of species recovery. In the fourth part, the editors offer a synthesis of the ideas presented in individual chapters, beginning to forge a path forward based on lessons learned. This interesting work bridges the thinking of scientists, social scientists, and business professionals.

March 3, 2008

Book Review - The Pentagon and the Presidency

The Pentagon and the Presidency: Civil-Military Relations from FDR to George W. Bush
Dale R. Herspring
E 745 .H47 2005

As the Commander in Chief, the President has always kept a close eye on the military. The relationship between the President and the senior military leadership, however, is not always an easy one. This book examines that relationship, relying particularly on the perspectives of senior leaders in the United States military. Chapter focus on individual Presidents, discussing their leadership styles, the role of their primary advisors, presenting case studies of interactions between them. In the final chapter, Herspring evaluates the Presidents as a group, comparing and contrasting them according to their degree of conflict with the military. Herspring concludes that the amount of conflict between the President and the military is primarily dependent on the amount of genuine respect for military culture than an individual President demonstrates. He also shows how the relationship of the military has changed over time, becoming increasingly political and responsive not only to the Commander in Chief, but equally accountable to Congress.

Book Review - Transforming Performanace Measurement

Transforming Performance Measurement: Rethinking the Way We Measure and Drive Organizational Success
Dean R. Spitzer
HD 58.9 .S68 2007

Spitzer asserts that you get what you measure. If you measure the wrong things, they will lead you increasingly further away from your organization's mission and goals. Spitzer does not focus on the mathematics of measurement, but instead discusses the softer social factors of performance measurement. He encourages readers to consider how their performance measure reflect their organization's business model and how they are used to create and drive organizational strategy. He asserts that continuing to ask questions like these prevents performance measurement from becoming a competition between individuals or organizational subgroups or from being one focused on data and technology. The book also includes plans which suggest accepted and emerging measures to consider using in common business areas such as marketing, human resources, production, knowledge management, information technology, and other areas.