"A valuable book for students of disaster policy and for students of policy change more generally.... After reading this book, it is hard not to become an advocate for aggressive disaster mitigation, as opposed to the preponderant paradigm of disaster relief." -- Perspectives on Politics
"Readers interested in disaster policy and emergency management will find Lessons instructive and illuminating. The case studies are contextually rich and demonstrate the relationship between focusing events and disaster policies quite deftly. Moreover, readers will find Birkland's thorough knowledge of the policy process impressive...a worthwhile resource for grasping how concepts of learning may help explain the fits and starts of U.S. disaster policy making." -- Public Administration Review
"Government is not perfect; we all know that. But governments can and do learn. When policies clearly fail, as happened in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as has occurred with various responses to hurricanes, earthquakes, and aviation security disasters, what happens next? Learning is by no means automatic; groups of affected citizens must mobilize; new ideas must be tossed around and considered; and a consensus must be reached about new policy initiatives. This does not always occur, and governments often do not learn anything even from terrible failures. In this very readable book based on several case studies including public response to the events of 9/11, Birkland shows us how governments draw important lessons from past failures. The book is a useful corrective to complaints that policy failures are there for all to see, but improvements never occur; Birkland shows that governments do, indeed, learn. More importantly, he helps us understand how we might make them learn more." -- Frank R. Baumgartner, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, The Pennsylvania State University
"Birkland analyzes an understudied topic: the extent to which governments learn after critical events. Often 'event-induced attention' causes policy change, but does this result in policy learning, or do governments simply repeat past errors? In framing an interesting question, and in ably utilizing four case studies to study it, Birkland has written an important book." -- Bryan Jones, Donald R. Matthews Distinguished Professor of American Politics, director, Center for American Politics and Public Policy, University of Washington, Seattle
"This book is a useful companion to After Disaster. Both books look at focusing events like natural disasters, but this also examines the ultimate focusing event (9-11) and whether subsequent bureaucratic change produced meaningful policy change." -- Roger W. Cobb, Brown University
About the Author
Thomas A. Birkland is the William T. Kretzer Professor of Public Policy in the School of Public and International Affairs at North Carolina State University. He is the author of After Disaster: Agenda Setting, Public Policy, and Focusing Events.