Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 08540; 2019; ISBN 9780691165370; 336 pp.; $38.00.“Instant classic” is a term not often used by applied social scientists and practicing policy analysts, but The Dynamics of Risk is one. First, it is foundational. Many future publications will, of course, have more to say about earthquake assessment, response, and recovery. They, however, risk repetition or irrelevance if they do not build on or reflect the book’s longitudinal and cross-sectional findings, concepts, and empirics. Second, the book speaks to engineers, social scientists, policy makers, and practitioners because its unit and level of analysis are the socio-technical systems designed for earthquakes. Engineering-only or cultural studies–only journals will continue to publish one-sided technical or one-sided socio articles on its topics, but their readers are advised to ask throughout: What does the double-power lens of Dynamics of Risk have to tell you about this? Third, Dynamics of Risk takes the complexity of earthquakes seriously. There are no reduced-form simplifications in the face of 12 case studies from nine different countries for the period 1999–2015. That this is no easy task at any time makes this work’s intelligibility and transparency to the different audiences all the more exceptional.Chapters 1 and 2, “Redefining Risk on a Global Scale” and “Risks in Complex Systems,” are the best synthesis I have read on seismic risk and interconnected critical infrastructures. The author introduces the fulcrum notions of complex adaptive systems, information and communication technologies, and shared risk on which the rest of the chapters pivot. Chapter 3, “Assessing Risk in Complex Systems: Data, Methods, Measurement,” sets out the research questions, data sources, and analytic methods for the comparative analysis of the cases studies from Turkey, Indonesia, People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Haiti, Japan, Pakistan, India, and Nepal.Chapter 4, “Risk in Practice,” is a contribution in its own right. A classification framework is presented for the socio-technical response systems for the 12 case studies. Along framework lines, imagine pressing emergency management professionals to first classify their own state, county, or city response systems in terms of being all but nonexistent, or more emergent adaptations than fully operative, or more operative than completely self-organizing (i.e., auto-adaptive). Then ask them to demonstrate how their earthquake preparedness initiatives (ranging from, say, 2-week readiness programs to retrofitting bridges and structures) fit into or advance those different adaptation categories. You and they might find the cognitive dissonance more than just useful.Chapters 5–8 are the core of the book. Each of the four chapters takes one of the classification categories and analyzes the earthquake(s) in each: Chapter 5 (“Toward an Auto-Adaptive System: The 2013 Lushan Country, China, Earthquake”), Chapter 6 [“Operative Adaptive Systems: 1999 Duzce, Turkey; 2009 Padang, Indonesia; 2011 Tohoku, Japan (Fukushima); and 2015 Nepal Response and Recovery Systems”], Chapter 7 (“Emergent Adaptive Systems: 1999 Marmara, Turkey; 1999 Chi Chi, Taiwan; 2005 Pakistan; and 2008 Wenchuan, China, Earthquake Response Systems”), and Chapter 8 (“Non-Adaptive Systems: 2001 Bhuj, Gujarat, India, Earthquake; 2004 Sumatra, Indonesia, Earthquake/Tsunami; and 2010 Haiti Earthquake Response Systems”). The value added is that each earthquake is reviewed in terms of the same categories for maximum cross comparison, e.g., each case study has a content and network analysis of news reports that follow the first 3–4 weeks after the disaster, along with a cross-check referencing literature produced later by others on the disaster.Chapter 9, “Evolving Patterns of System Response,” is surely the most pertinent summary of trends observed from what must be one of the largest sets, if not the largest, of earthquake case studies we have to this date. The analysis is methodical and empirically demonstrates the usefulness of the fourfold classification of adaptive response systems. It also confirms that information and communication technologies are instrumental for local organizations and jurisdictions in better coordinating not only among themselves but also with outside organizations such as humanitarian aid agencies and groups. The richness of detail and example exceed the confines of a short book review such as this.Chapter 10, “The Logic of Resilience,” is a must-read for those who might have first skimmed the many insights in Chapters 5–8. Mercifully, this last chapter is not another one of those now routine review of the reviews of the literature on resilience. The reader wants more and the author (who has spent much of her career on earthquakes and response systems) provides that by offering chief takeaways from the research when designing for seismic risk. In fact, something new and very important is said about resilience (hint: about the presence or absence of a meso-level), a point expanded on in the book’s conclusion directly.Allow me to conclude with two other points. First, a great virtue of the book is it does not lead us down that rabbit hole of low-probability, high-consequence events with all their coulds, mights, maybes, and perhapses. This book is about really existing earthquakes. In this way and another, the book serves as a useful reminder of an obstinate truth: The costs to societies of confronting open-ended global disaster scenarios are set by the dangers of ignoring global ones about which we already have far greater information and knowledge.If we cannot manage a global seismic risk better given what we already know and so dread, why would anyone believe we can manage other global risks about which we know even less by way of preparedness, response, and recovery? The Dynamics of Risk is not a landmark study only; it is a benchmark against which to compare other global risks and their analyses.

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