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Book Review: The Business of Counterterrorism

The Business of Counterterrorism: Public-Private Partnerships in Homeland Security. By Nathan E. Busch and Austen D. Givens. Peter Lang International Academic Publishers;; 342 pages. $29.95.

​Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are a fundamental feature of homeland security. In this book, authors Nathan Busch and Austen Givens offer a scholarly perspective on these partnerships that is clear, detailed, and credible.

Logically arrayed, the book explores five important areas of homeland security: critical infrastructure protection, cybersecurity, information sharing, security at borders, and disaster recovery. The authors readily admit at the introduction that “…these five areas do not cover every aspect of homeland security; it would be neither possible nor practical for us to cover every facet of public-private partnership in homeland security in a single volume.” Practitioners’ understanding of the prominence of these PPPs in homeland security has outpaced the scholarly literature. This book seeks to fill that gap and to identify the essential role that PPPs are taking in homeland security and the implications of that transformative shift in the field.  

Busch and Givens engage these topics with authority and offer conclusions as well as suggestions for further research. For example, while examining critical infrastructure protection, they pose an unresolved question: What metrics measure success for PPPs in critical infrastructure? The authors do not shy away from noting the patterns found in ineffective partnerships, as well as the false sense of complacency that can arise when an ineffective partnership appears to be successful.

Serious challenges to effective PPPs include regulation, management, politics, budgets, war profiteering, and potential failure. Throughout the work the crucial role of trust as the foundation of functional partnerships is emphasized.  Absent trust, these partnerships are nothing more than good theater. 

This book is valuable for those currently participating in or contemplating a public-private partnership in homeland security. The book clearly contributes to a deeper understanding of these partnerships.

Reviewer:  Thomas E. Engells, CPP, CPM (Certified Public Manager) is the chief of police at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. He is a member of ASIS.