Flirting with Disaster: Why Accidents are Rarely Accidental

Front Cover
Union Square Press, 2008 - Social Science - 340 pages
We tend to think of disasters as uncontrollable acts of nature or inevitable accidents. But are such incidents unavoidable or ever truly accidental? The authors of this remarkable book say we actually do have the power to prevent tragedies such as the flooding from Hurricane Katrina, the death toll from dangerous medicines like Vioxx, and the explosion of the Space Shuttle Columbia. Marc Gerstein and Michael Ellsberg insist that disasters need not be inevitable if we learn from history, prepare carefully for the worst case, and speak out when we see danger looming. This revelation makes their compelling study extremely valuable for readers in business, government, medicine, academia—indeed all walks of life.
Flirting with Disaster will do for catastrophe what Blink did for intuition, and The Black Swan did for probability: provide a popular audience with an engaging, in-depth view of a complex and important topic. Gerstein and Ellsberg examine the culture of institutions: why even people of good will and inside knowledge underestimate risk; feel psychologically incapable of averting tragedy and unable to pick up the pieces afterward; and don't come forward forcefully enough to head off catastrophe. They also celebrate those who go beyond the call of duty to save others, including Dr. David Graham of the FDA who courageously stood up to reveal Vioxx's deadly effects. One such whistleblower contributes both a foreword and an afterword: Daniel Ellsberg, renowned and respected for releasing the Pentagon Papers.
Flirting with Disaster provides a pathway for those who want to foster truthtelling in their organization and head off disasters in the making. At once alarming, entertaining, and hopeful, it offers readers very real and practical lessons for everyday life.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - kimgroome - LibraryThing

Bystanders, biases, risk blindness, backups, social pressure, role of organizational culture, and moving from bystander to witness to whistle-blower. A really good read. Read full review

Contents

Chapter1
11
Chapter2
23
Chapter3
50
Chapter4
66
Chapter5
92
Chapter6
126
Chapter7
146
Chapter8
170
Chapter10
207
Chapter11
240
Chapter12
270
AboutTheAuthorPage
329
Index
331
BackFlap
341
BackCover
342
Copyright

Chapter9
192

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)

Marc Gerstein holds a Masters and Ph.D. in Management from the Sloan School of Management, MIT. He has taught at Columbia Business School and Sloan. He currently heads Marc Gerstein Associates, Ltd., a management consulting firm. His writing on strategy and organizational dynamics has been published by the Sloan Management Review, the Journal of Business Strategy, and Stanford University. Michael Ellsberg is a developmental editor who did extensive work on his father Daniel Ellsberg's bestseller Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. Daniel Ellsberg worked on the top secret study of U.S. decision-making in Vietnam, later known as the Pentagon Papers. He is a lecturer, writer and activist on the dangers of the nuclear era, government wrongdoing, and the need for patriotic whistleblowing.

Bibliographic information