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Operational Risk Management: A Case Study Approach to Effective Planning and Response

***** Operational Risk Management: A Case Study Approach to Effective Planning and Response. By Mark D. Abkowitz; published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., (Web); 277 pages; $50.

In Operational Risk Man­age­ment, consultant-turned-professor Mark Abkowitz examines 15 of the highest-profile disasters from the past three decades. Among them are the 1984 Bhopal, India, chemical disaster; the 9-11 attacks; and Hurricane Katrina. In each case, Abkowitz asks and answers a simple question: “Why?”

Equally important are the cases in which disaster threatened yet was averted or mitigated. Ab­ko­witz applies the same question in two such cases, one of them the magnitude 7.9 earthquake that hit rural Alaska in November 2002, in an area traversed by the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Pipeline supports designed to absorb geological motion sustained damage, but the pipeline did not rupture and was only shut down for a few days.

The author’s writing style is concise and informative. The book captures the es­sence of decisions and events that led to both the failures and the successes within each of the case studies.

These case studies represent an excellent tool for learning, but even more, they represent an excellent modern history of the great and tragic catastrophes of our era. Operational Risk Management is highly recommended for your library—not just as a professional resource but as an excellent piece of literature.

Reviewer: Mark Wright is director of life safety and security for Brookfield Properties in the Houston region. He is a 28-year member of ASIS International and sits on its Commercial Real Estate Council.