The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us And What We Can Do About It Paperback – June 2, 2010
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
"Ramo pushes the reader into uncomfortable yet exhilarating places with controversial ways of thinking about global challenges...Persuasively argued...Ramo's revelatory work argues that there must be some audacity in thinking before there can be any audacity of hope."―Publishers Weekly
About the Author
- Item Weight : 9.6 ounces
- Paperback : 285 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0316118117
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316118118
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.75 x 8.25 inches
- Publisher : Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (June 2, 2010)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #854,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The main issue with this book is the author himself. He comes off as an arrogant, pontificating Professor; while he is accomplished and clearly smart, his style writes checks that the content does not allow him to cash. I found myself more irritated than interested in what he had to say because I felt he was talking down to me. I imagine that, in person, the author loves the sound of his own voice.
In summary, a good read that will make you think assuming that you can ignore being lectured and talked down to.
He is more like a copycat in many ways, thus he is misleading.
See what was saying on NBC’s winter Olympic broadcasting...... dumb & dull!
He relates an interesting metaphor of "the sand pile" to illustrate the complexity of reality and how our current institutions are ill equipped to deal with uncertainty.
"...Bak hypothesized that after an initial period, in which the sand piled itself into a little cone, the stack would organize itself into instability, a state in which adding just a single grain of sand could trigger a large avalanche - or nothing at all. what was radical about his idea was that it implied that these sand cones, which looked relatively stable, were in fact deeply unpredictable, that you absolutely no way of knowing what was going to happen next, that there was a mysterious relationship between input and output. You could see the way physics struggled against the very limits of language when confronted by such a subject: organized instability?"
Ramo argues our current national security institutions no longer are effective when confronted by uncertainty and complexity, in which a tiny change can have large and lasting ramifications. And that these institutions must develop away from straight planning for specific outcomes (which I think is a good idea) and become more loose and adaptable. They must seek to shape the outside environment, rather than control it. In short, our institutions have to learn to "surf the wave."
As far as this goes, I have no argument with Ramos. I have big problems with our national security institutions being controlled by planners. In my work in Iraq I have seen more damage done by planning than anything else. The utter inability of our institutions to adapt to rapidly changing environments because they have been beholden to a plan has been immeasurable.
However, my problem with Ramos is that he doesn't offer much in the way of concrete solutions. (I haven't been able to think of anything revolutionary either - but then again, I haven't written a book on the subject.) Take this quote:
"One could in fact fill an entire book with interesting experiments to be tried in coming years as we wrestle with this new order: fresh ways to boost national savings rates; international efforts to reduce sugar consumption; plans to use the web to make a catalogue of every person in the world dying of AIDS. these and ten thousand other ideas need to be offered and tried - tried free of the cynicism of "we've done that" or "it won't matter." The fact is, we can't know if what didn't work will work today; we can't predict the impact of our attempts to make change, and that is why we need to keep trying it."
That's great. And I agree. I have had to fight against "the cynicism of 'we've done that' or 'it won't matter'." But the reality is that there ARE limited resources. And once you have to work inside that constriction, THEN you give power to the planners - who are tasked with how to best "efficiently" divide those resources. Which requires a "plan," which then strangles any ability to deal with complexity.
Please! I'd like to read the book with 10,000 ideas!