New Feature: Book Reviews

The Dynamics of Disaster, by Susan W. Kieffer. Norton, 2014. Hardcover, 274 pp. List price: $25.95

Since the author is a geologist, it is not surprising that this book deals with geological and meteorological hazards and disasters. The book primarily deals with natural hazards and disasters and not with the emergency management of disaster events. The chapter titles are as follows:

          Geologic Consent – do we have it or not?
Dynamics and Disasters
Terra Isn’t Firma
The Flying Carpet of ELM
The day the Mountain Blew
The Power of Water: tsunamis
Rogue Waves, Stormy Weather
Rivers in the Sky and
Water Water Everywhere … or not a drop to drink

The author has a conversational writing style and she provides useful and understandable accounts of the major types of natural hazards to those of us without formal training in the hard sciences.

The first eight chapters deal with the hazards phenomena, and the final chapter outlines how we might better prepare for and in cases prevent future natural disasters.  As others have done she suggests that the key to disaster preparedness and prevention is communication and communication among scientists and engineers together with policy makers and public sector decision makers. A unique recommendation is her call for the creation of an organization that would function like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention but focus on disasters. And she emphasizes the important of education the public and discusses how that might be done.

About the author: She is a professor emerita of geology at the Univ of IL and a recipient of the Mac Arthur foundation grant.  She hosts a blog call Geology in Motion.

In short, this book would be a useful addition to one’s library, understanding that it deals entirely with natural disasters and features hazards descriptions and analyses and not emergency management processes.


Reviewed by Claire B. Rubin, alias The Diva.

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