3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2010
There may be confusion about Amazon's listed reviews of Rosenbaum's book because the 7th and 8th editions share the same reviews - at least during my examination (Sept. 6 2010).
Let me first counter a curious "1 star" review by "Easy Reader" of Rosenbaum's writing style. "I found this text extremely poorly written.... I looked through the entire text for a single example of a clearly written and concise statement and was disappointed."
I find often interesting dynamics behind books that garner conflicting rave and condemning reviews. So I don't dismiss outvoted dissenters. In most cases ideological differences are involved. However, in this case it's writing style!
Could Rosenbaum's book be a best seller and have gone through seven earlier editions if he were a bad writer? In fact, I find Rosenbaum's writing style the most clear, candid, earthy and least affected by political correctness of all writers with whom I'm familiar (I have around 3,500 references on my EndNote database for policy literature).
On the other hand, the evolution of U.S. environmental policy since the late 1960s includes such labyrinthine detail and complexity (the U.S. now has more than 650 laws directly or indirectly relating to environmental issues) that any book dealing with the subject can hardly avoid confusion. So I wonder whether Easy Reader's problem with Rosenbaum may really be with U.S. policy (first exposure to a book on this subject)? If so, he or she may be on target - but it should be the policy, not Rosenbaum.
Colorful, insightful and telling descriptions or literature citations of what has being going on in the U.S. abound in Rosenbaum's book. Some examples:
1) "Light truck regulation, especially, has become a `third rail' political issue... Americans - even ones who fancy themselves as environmentalists - have fallen in love with trucks"
2) "At least one agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, seems almost incapable of conquering a historical addiction to `cooked' BCAs" [BCA refers to Benefit-Cost Assessment]*
3) "Experts ... can be caught up in the emotionally and politically polarizing atmosphere of ..disputes. [Their expertise can be] reduced to one more weapon in a political arsenal".
4) "NIMBYism will continue to be tough, stubborn, and durable, its ranks crowded with well-educated, socially active, organizationally experienced people.....many public policy discussions become dialogues of the deaf ..."
The reason I refer to the desirability of a fundamentally new approach for environmental textbook writing is precisely the almost endless list of inefficiencies, failures, and damaging public conflicts that Rosenbaum describes. These increasingly include NIMBYism, evidences of regulatory and sociopolitical obstructions to renewable energy and other progressive efforts in the U.S. What are almost universally omitted in all U.S. texts to date are foreign experience and the fact that the U.S. conflict over environmental and natural resource policy is unique among advanced nations.
A new approach focusing on historical developments from a more universal perspective would allow chaotic U.S. developments and details to be seen in the light of more successful policies of other advanced nations. Giving each major regulatory area or statute around which controversy has roiled (Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act amendments, Endangered Species Act, Superfund Act,) and subjects like regulatory economics, precautionary principle, risk assessment, nuclear energy independent treatment leaves many students and even experts with the feeling that environmental policy and the U.S. are basket cases - there's little hope for the future.
My own conclusions from the book cited below are that there's light at the end of the tunnel - but not until we take off America-centric blinders and can see it.
*My historical research (Manheim, The Conflict over Environmental Regulation in the United States...... Springer 2009) suggests that USACE standards of objectivity were consistently high before 1950. They became more arbitrary as a consequence of the serendipitous events of the 1960s and later.
on November 24, 2014
I found this text to be a helpful resource for understanding the concepts surrounding environmental policy specifically. The book covers an extremely wide-range political processes and frames each one through the lens of environmental issues. Because the scope is so large, this works as a good introduction to environmental policy. For readers looking for more in-depth discussions on the concepts in this book, I recommend looking at the chapter titles, each of which could be seen as a separate subject worthy of its own catalog of literature, to find resources dealing with that subject specifically.
As far as Rosenbaum's voice, I found it easy to understand. He presents readers with a good foundation on top of which further study in the realm of environmental policy can build.
5 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2005
I found this text extremely poorly written. Run-on sentences and excessive use of adjectives were rampant making it difficult to ream the meaning out of most of the sections. I looked through the entire text for a single example of a clearly written and concise statement and was disappointed. Textbooks are for instruction, not for the demonstration of the writer's proficiency with a thesaurus. And they are certainly not a contest to see how many different thoughts can be crammed into a single sentence.