Thinking in an Emergency (Norton Global Ethics Series) and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
  • List Price: $23.95
  • Save: $2.39 (10%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by
Gift-wrap available.
Add to Cart
Want it tomorrow, April 18? Order within and choose One-Day Shipping at checkout. Details
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Used: Very Good | Details
Sold by NorthEastBooks
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: **FAST SHIPPING!!** 100% satisfaction guaranteed!!** Looks like a typical used book with some shelf wear** We carefully inspected this item**
Add to Cart
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more

Thinking in an Emergency (Norton Global Ethics Series) Hardcover

See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from Collectible from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$1.00 $0.94

Frequently Bought Together

Thinking in an Emergency (Norton Global Ethics Series) + The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World
Price for both: $37.01

Buy the selected items together


Big Spring Books
Editors' Picks in Spring Releases
Ready for some fresh reads? Browse our picks for Big Spring Books to please all kinds of readers.

Product Details

  • Series: Norton Global Ethics Series
  • Hardcover: 157 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1ST edition (March 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393078981
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393078985
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,239,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Written with passion from a deeply humanitarian standpoint . . . a mind-blowing canter around some difficult topics—conflict, democracy and nuclear war.. . . I will give this book the ultimate accolade—I will buy copies as gifts for others.” (Patrick Tissington - Times Higher Education (UK)) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Elaine Scarry is the Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University. Her book The Body in Pain was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Phil in Magnolia TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book thinking that it would provide insight into how decisions are made in emergency situations. It does do that, to a certain extent, but the main thesis of the book is actually quite different than the title alone might suggest.

This book is focused on is explaining how modern societies, in particular the eight nuclear weapons states (the U.S. plus seven others) have come to live in a state of "chronic emergency", and "with more and more powers ceded to the countries president or prime minister", rather than being decided through deliberation involving either the legislature or the public, or both.

Right off the bat, the book challenged my view of our democracy, stating that we in fact do not any longer have a full democracy because of the extent to which power has been delegated by statute to the President. It cites as examples, from recent years, the decisions to sanction torture, detention without charge, and decisions involving use of our military without a formal declaration of war.

These are all actions we are familiar with and have lived through, but the observation that these represent a real shift away from true democratic decision making is thought provoking. For me it was stunning and I am still absorbing the whole shift in paradigm that results once you absorb the authors arguments.

The book is strongly pro democracy and anti nuclear weapons, and as the reviewer in "Times Higher Education" has pointed out, Scarry writes from a deeply humanitarian standpoint. It is not overly discouraging in how it presents our countries present situation but it does make it clear that we need to make changes in America if we want to check and hopefully reverse this shift that has been moving us more and more to a non-democratic rule.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence M. Hinman on June 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Scary presents a nuanced, historically well-informed and conceptually sophisticated argument in support of our constitutional restrictions on the power to wage war. I couldn't put it down! A pleasure to observe Scarry thinking! One of the two best books I've read this year.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By toronto on November 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
Though I agree with the aim of this book (warning about nuclear war and the concentration of power in executive branches of government) the book is disjointed and unconvincing. It can't decide whether it is going to be a book about emergencies, about power, or about habit/deliberation. The least convincing part of the book is about the nuclear war issue. Scarry doesn't seem to grasp the main argument of her opponents, which is that contemporary nuclear warfare since 1945 cannot wait for declarations of war -- that governments must be, as it were, pre-mobilized to plausibly survive nuclear attack and retaliate. I don't agree with the premises, but the argument is a tough one to deal with. There is no discussion of the status of terrorists and the spread of weapons of mass destruction (by the time one reacts to their use, thousands may have died). Again, I don't agree with the premises, but where are the arguments for and against? Is pre-emption always bad? At the moment, any president is scared that another September 11 may happen, and that they will be accused of not having done enough to stop it beforehand. This is kind of crazy, but it is a basic political fact in America -- Scarry doesn't deal with it at all.

The debate about fallout shelters (in which she compares Swiss preparation as against American) is perfunctorily handled. Nowhere does she discuss the powerful anti-war mobilizations in the 1950's (Dorothy Day was a pioneer) where people argued that fallout shelters and drills were about "fighting and surviving" nuclear wars, making such wars more plausible. Holding one's citizenry hostage is, so far, an element of deterrence.

It is not remotely clear what the last chapter, on deliberation and habit, has to do with the rest of the book. Except that thinking and planning before an emergency is a good thing. Did we need a fine philosopher (which Scarry is elsewhere, as in her book on the body in pain) to tell us this?
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Bruce P. Barten on July 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is a product of thinking about cross-disciplinary studies as a fundamental basis for creative solutions to problems that irk people who never like how everybody carries on like hundreds of chattering monkeys. I am sixty-four now with no reasonable answers for the question of where I should put my money for the next five years. It takes about five years of steady work to count up the 10,000 hours of practice required for virtuosity, according to Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers: The Story of Success (2008). Elaine Scarry associates virtuosity with Gershwin, who could see the keys of a player piano move in the penny arcade at the age of six. Gershwin put his fingers on the keys that were moving to learn, by associating the sound of the music with the touch sensation of keys dropping that "when he carried his hands to a piano that was not automated, he could produce the same virtuosity." (p. 91).

As an engineering student who was advised to take another aerospace design class in my last semester at the University of Michigan in 1968 so I would be better qualified to work for the engineering firms that design modern missiles, I was sensitive to the question in job interviews:

Where do you want to be in five years?

I had very little experience of life as something to write about, but I could hardly see myself in any other role.

If Vietnam was a joke,
I was the straight man.

I might have given myself 10,000 hours of practice as a Freudian expert in the Vietnam War before writing to Bob McNamara and Daniel Ellsberg to ask for any funny Nam bits they could send me for My Vietnam War Joke Book. I could never get permission from anyone to twist everything to write something "at some far remove from the realm of habit." (pp. 90-91).
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Product Images from Customers


What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?