Enter your mobile number 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.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

The Limits of Safety 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691021010
ISBN-10: 0691021015
Why is ISBN important?
ISBN
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Trade in your item
Get a $14.05
Gift Card.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy new
$40.25
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
List Price: $46.00 Save: $5.75 (13%)
31 New from $28.77
Qty:1
The Limits of Safety has been added to your Cart
More Buying Choices
31 New from $28.77 27 Used from $27.63 1 Collectible from $36.00
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Prime Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student


The Amazon Book Review
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
$40.25 FREE Shipping. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • The Limits of Safety
  • +
  • Normal Accidents: Living with High-Risk Technologies
  • +
  • The Logic Of Failure: Recognizing And Avoiding Error In Complex Situations
Total price: $92.35
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

Review

Winner of the 1993 Best Book Award, Science, Technology, and Environmental Studies Section of the American Political Science Association

"An extraordinary book.... Normal accidents theory and high reliability theory took the theory of accidents out of the hands of economists and engineers and put it into the hands of organization theorists; Sagan has brought that theory of accidents much closer to maturity."--Charles Perrow, Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management

"Scott Sagan's book is nothing less than a tour de force.... It is by far the most carefully researched and painstaking study of nuclear weapons safety ever written."--Bruce G. Blair, Security Studies

"Sagan's stories also drive a wooden stake through the heart of rational choice nuclear deterrence theory. This book will make you scared ... will make you hold your children a little tighter at the end of the day."--Lee Clarke, Sociological Forum

"Sagan shows, both explicitly for nuclear weapons and implicitly for intellectual systems, that neither learning nor disasters are essentially matters of improving O-rings, safety procedures, or t-tests, as participants within those systems would like to believe. The primary adaptive action is offstage--in the background framework itself. And at that level, through sheer volume of its data, Sagan's book will shape the way that policymakers and we (with a little less confidence) understand the nuclear world."--Contemporary Sociology

"Grounded in original research in U.S. national security archives, [Limits of Safety] reveals a disturbing history of near-catastrophes in the handling of nuclear weapons and bombers. . . . This book is a significant contribution to . . . international security studies, organizational theory, and risk analysis."--American Political Science Review

From the Back Cover

"Important and refreshing . . . ranges from the general theory of accidents to how-to-do-it suggestions for any nation's nuclear planners. It is a skilful blending of social, physical, organizational and military science and is highly recommended to readers in all four fields."--David L. Sills, Nature

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Studies in International History and Politics
  • Paperback: 302 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1 edition (January 9, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691021015
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691021010
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #449,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Scott Sagan examines the safety of the US nuclear weapons command organisations employing two opposing theoretical lines of thought: the so-called high reliability school and the normal accident school.
High reliability theory holds that accidents can be prevented through good organisational design, that safety is the priority organisational objective, that redundancy enhances safety, and that trial-and-error learning from near-misses can be effective. The contrasting perspective is that of normal accident theory in which the author combines Charles Perrow's system accident theory with theories of bounded rationality, specifically the garbage can theory of organisational behaviour by Cohen, March and Olsen. This view holds that accidents are inevitable in complex and tightly coupled systems, that safety is only one of a number of competing objectives, that redundancy increases the complexity and opaqueness of the system and thereby may compromise safety (indeed the provocative view that redundancy may even cause accidents) and that political infighting is a serious barrier to organisational learning.
After having laid out the propositions and assumptions of these competing theories, the books addresses the basic question of which of the two theories is more accurate drawing from analysis of the Cuban missile crisis, the B52 Thule bomber crash, the performance of US missile warning systems, and others. This selection of case studies is a tough test for normal accident theory. One would expect that the all-pervasive and dreadful consequences of an accidental nuclear war would make nuclear weapons safety a first priority at all levels of all involved organisations. The reader is left un-reassured of this.
Read more ›
Comment 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
With nuclear technology entering its seventh decade of use, one may have surmised that issues surrounding the safety of this technology would be well agreed upon with a consensus view of the potential pitfalls involved in nuclear security. However, as Scott Sagan reveals in his book called The Limits of Safety, the problems surrounding atomic safety lie not in the components of the system, but in the paradigm that structures our view of atomic safety. By highlighting near misses from the Cuban Missile Crisis and other events, Sagan uncovers how close the world may have come to accidental detonations and possible accidental nuclear war. Sagan interprets these events from two different perspectives concerning organizational learning: the high reliability organization learning theory (an optimistic view of nuclear safety) and the normal accident theory (more pessimistic). These perspectives present and interpret the near misses in totally different lights, as this analysis of the competing paradigms of nuclear safety is the essence of his work. Based on his research, Sagan was forced to change his prior view of nuclear safety and concludes with recommendations to make nuclear weapon systems more secure.
High reliability theory holds that accidents can be prevented through good organizational design, that safety is the priority organizational objective (development of a "high reliability culture"), that redundancy enhances safety, and that trial-and-error learning from near misses can be effective (implying use of sophisticated forms of trial-and-error organizational theory). Essentially, this model argues that accidents can be avoided given the proper set of precautions and organizational learning.
Read more ›
Comment 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Normal accident theory versus high reliability theory for nuclear weapons.
We're just lucky there has not been a major disaster. The military not
telling their civilian masters what they are doing short circuits any hope
of them being an HRO.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent analysis of how the military routinely lies, distorts and misinforms about its litany of failures in avoiding nuclear weapons incidents. By contrasting the two theories of safety reliability versus normal accidents, Sagan persuasively demonstrates how the US Air Force has failed to incorporate numerous past experiences into its institutional learning. By citing several scary near-misses and mishaps, Sagan shows how lucky the US has been in avoiding a domino-effect cascade of errors resulting in nuclear detonations. While the safety reliability advocates may insist that the to-date avoidance of such a disaster validates their position, Sagan counter-argues that the incidents show how that theory fails to live up to its central creeds, e.g., avoiding excessively complex redundancy systems and learning lessons. He posits that it's just a matter of time before we do experience such a nuke catastrophe. The scariest part for me was realizing that Sagan exposed merely the tippiest tip of a deeply submerged iceberg of military duplicitousness; if he managed to find out what he did, imagine how many more secrets the Pentagon has concealed.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

The Limits of Safety
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: The Limits of Safety