The Devil Never Sleeps: Learning to Live in an Age of Disasters

Juliette Kayyem. PublicAffairs, $29 (240p) ISBN 978-1-5417-0009-3

Kayyem (Security Mom), a senior lecturer in public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School, delivers an informative guide to surviving the next disaster. Her process involves three distinct parts: preparing for and reacting to catastrophic events, minimizing harm, and applying information gleaned from present-day disasters to those of the future. She explains the importance of situational awareness, contending that the consequences of Hurricane Katrina, the January 6 Capitol riot, and other recent events might have been less dire had better preparations been made and information disseminated more quickly. Turning to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kayyem demonstrates the concept of “minimizing cascading losses,” showcasing new medical strategies developed in response to the prevalence of IEDs. Elsewhere, she recounts the 2011 tsunami and subsequent nuclear meltdown in Japan, detailing how the “dominance of the nuclear industry” caused leaders to disregard lessons learned in the 19th and 20th centuries about the consequences of natural and man-made disasters. Throughout, Kayyem makes clear that government leaders and institutions cannot always be counted on to serve the public’s best interest in a crisis. Full of practical advice and incisive analysis, this is an astute and timely road map for mitigating the consequences of the next cataclysm. Agent: Sarah Burnes, Gernert Company. (Mar.)
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