These are matters of common sense, applied to simple questions of cause and effect. But what happens, asks systems-behavior expert Charles Perrow, when common sense runs up against the complex systems, electrical and mechanical, with which we have surrounded ourselves? Plenty of mayhem can ensue, he replies. The Chernobyl nuclear accident, to name one recent disaster, was partially brought about by the failure of a safety system that was being brought on line, a failure that touched off an unforeseeable and irreversible chain of disruptions; the less severe but still frightening accident at Three Mile Island, similarly, came about as the result of small errors that, taken by themselves, were insignificant, but that snowballed to near-catastrophic result.
Only through such failures, Perrow suggests, can designers improve the safety of complex systems. But, he adds, those improvements may introduce new opportunities for disaster. Looking at an array of real and potential technological mishaps--including the Bhopal chemical-plant accident of 1984, the Challenger explosion of 1986, and the possible disruptions of Y2K and genetic engineering--Perrow concludes that as our technologies become more complex, the odds of tragic results increase. His treatise makes for sobering and provocative reading. --Gregory McNamee
For better or worse, things are going to happen that we just can't predict.
Overall the book is a mixture of sense and nonsense, with a lot of valuable material mixed with errors and bad interpretations.
If you have read and enjoyed the book "Systemantics" by John Gall, then you will very likely enjoy this one.
A must read for anyone interested in safety and reliabilityPublished 1 month ago by Avishai Ish-Shalom
I found the book somewhat tedious to read after the first chapter or so. The author makes the same points over and over about human error.Published 3 months ago by michael barcelona
This is a good book, slightly dated, but still a seminal work. My main review component will be on the kindle format. Read morePublished 4 months ago by J. Leeman
This book is an expatiation of Murphy's Law. The author argues that complex systems are vulnerable to failure and that failures are unpredictable because, in complex systems, the... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
This guy obviously knows his stuff. I was frankly hoping to just read about accidents, but this is much more an academy view of the subject. Read morePublished 7 months ago by fourdegreesc
This is riveting book. Having witnessed many of the incidents described in the book, it is refreshing to read descriptions and accounts that are not driven by the need to coverup,... Read morePublished 8 months ago by J. S. White
This book paints a good picture of why failure can be inevitable in complex systems.
Nuke plants seem to blow up every decade or so regardless of complex safety systems. Read more
This book was inaccurate, wrong, and useless on every front. The author made so many technical errors in subjects that I understood, that I could only conclude that he made them... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Stuart Steele
The review by Robert I. Hedges is smack on nothing much to add.
The work by Perrow certainly was seminal and important, however things have actually progressed since it was... Read more