cover image How Safe Are We?: Homeland Security Since 9/11

How Safe Are We?: Homeland Security Since 9/11

Janet Napolitano. PublicAffairs, $26 (240) ISBN 978-1-5417-6222-0

Napolitano, former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, looks back at her career and cogently assesses the department’s strengths and weaknesses. She talks briefly about her early life and professions before her time at DHS and about the challenges she faced as Obama’s point person for homeland security. She is proud of her work, acknowledging accomplishments in “What We Got Right” (for example, the risk-based passenger screening programs that evolved into TSA PreCheck), and honestly considering “Where We Need to Improve,” such as the vulnerabilities to voting technology and social media that became apparent after the 2016 election. Both sections give insight into how DHS works to protect the nation’s borders and respond to disasters. Napolitano saves her sharpest criticism for the Trump administration, arguing repeatedly that “some vulnerabilities are more perceived than real,” including “the persistent political hysteria over the security of the U.S. border with Mexico,” and calling the family separation policy “government malpractice.” She recommends that DHS instead focus on cyberterrorism and “the biggest and most irreversible risk of all, climate change.” This valuable work should appeal to readers with cool heads about national security, who will appreciate Napolitano’s suggestion to evaluate risk based on data rather than rhetoric. Agent: Peter Bernstein, Bernstein Literary Agency. (Mar.)