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Book Review: Rebuilding Resilience

Creating Katrina, Rebuilding Resilience: Lessons from New Orleans on Vulnerability and Resiliency. Edited by Michael Zakour, Nancy Mock, and Paul Kadetz. ​Published by Butterworth-Heinemann;; 420 pages; $79.95.

The considerable devastation resulting from the Hurricane Katrina disaster reminds everyone there is still much to learn about how and why disasters occur. Creating Katrina, Rebuilding Resilience: Lessons from New Orleans on Vulnerability and Resiliency is an insightful book that provides a fresh view of the disaster.

The editors and authors have addressed a complex issue from a systems perspective. Instead of the usual rehashing of trite explanations for natural disasters, the book takes the position that while the hurricane was a natural event, the consequences were rooted in human decisions that were made before, during, and after the storm. The 17 chapters address different aspects of the larger disaster and provide a wealth of information intended to develop a stronger, more holistic understanding of the event.

The book progresses from a theoretical framework perspective to vulnerability and resilience issues. It concludes with lessons learned from the totality of the event. It addresses the appropriate disaster, risk, and resiliency theories through the complexity of the systems approach. The discussion about disaster vulnerability is fascinating and provides a wealth of information about the historical aspects of vulnerabilities associated with human decision making.

The disaster resilience section of the book identifies the critical components of community culture and the influence of culture upon the resiliency of people and organizations. The final section of the book, with lessons learned, is required reading for any serious student of community risk and resilience management. Viewing Hurricane Katrina as a simple natural disaster that humans had little control over fails to appreciate the myriad decisions made over time that influenced the preparations, response, and recovery efforts.

The audience of disaster, emergency, and crisis management professionals will gain insights into risk management. The authors present an academically rigorous discussion with resources to back them up. The text is appropriate for university courses and should become a mainstay of security professionals seeking to broaden their understanding of the complexities of a natural disaster within the context of modern society.

Reviewer: Dr. James Leflar, CPP, CBCP (Certified Business Continuity Professional), is a member and former chair of the ASIS Crisis Management and Business Continuity Council. A recognized subject matter expert in organizational resilience, crisis management, business continuity, and security management, he is a published author and educator.