Most helpful positive review
66 of 66 people found the following review helpful
Excellent General Introduction to Systems Safety
on September 6, 2003
'Inviting Disaster' is a compelling and easy to read book. It is an introduction to accident theory for generalists, and is as interesting (perhaps more so) to nontechnical people as it is to engineers and the like. James Chiles discusses several major accidents (Challenger, Three Mile Island, Ocean Ranger, etc.) in well executed chapters with substantial background from previous precursor accidents or incidents. One reviewer seems to believe that this is a flaw, but I disagree. The reviewer seems to believe, for instance, that the R101 (a dirigible, not a blimp, as the reviewer wrongly states) is totally irrelevant to Challenger. In fact R101 was the Challenger of it's day, and the social, managerial and technological pressures that ultimately led to the R101 disaster ultimately led to Challenger as well. Chiles ties this theme together in a seamless manner in chapter after chapter.
This book is not a rigorous technical analysis of the individual disasters with the engineering and math associated with formal inquiries and technical (AAIB, NTSB, etc.) investigations. What it does better than any of the technical inquiries could ever do, though, is make a clear a compelling case for the problems that led to each of the accidents covered, treating man-machine interface issues with particular grace.
I have long been associated with the more technical aspects of accident investigation and safety systems, but have to say that while there are more technical accounts available for all of these accidents, if you are looking for an entry level (but complete) overview of accidents and systems safety, you can't go wrong with this book.