Collaborative Resilience: Moving Through Crisis to Opportunity

Bruce Evan Goldstein

Book cover

I picked this book up at a bookstore on a whim for two reasons. First, I’ve recently had some interest in the topic of system resilience through an economics blog I read. Second, reading through the introduction in the bookstore, I learned that the book grew out of a seminar on resilience that was held at Virginia Tech after the 2007 shootings.

Unfortunately, the book totally failed to grip me, though for some reason I soldiered on through the whole thing. None of the essays, first of all, had any bearing whatsoever on the Tech shootings. Even on their own merits, I didn’t find the essays compelling. In theory I like the idea of qualitative social science research, and I still assume that there are people who do it in a way that would interest me. But I think it’s hard for “case study” approaches not to degenerate into boosterism–people naturally gravitate toward things they like as cases, and a vaguely populist tone pervades the book. (Perhaps I’m just more reactionary than I’d like to think.) The language is pretty jargony, which makes it difficult for a non-specialist for me to read; what’s worse, when I would pause to really parse something out, I’d often feel like it basically said “Throughout history there have been both continuity and change,” or something similarly content-free.

Some of the blame definitely goes to me for working through an academic book on topics that don’t really interest me, but at the end of the day, I can’t say I liked it.

My Goodreads rating: 1 stars