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PPA 671: Books for the ‘Review’ Assignment

 

Select one of the following books for your presentation. You have to specify your choice by week 2. The annotations following the book titles are from Barnes & Noble’s web site (unless otherwise specified). If a book you want to read is not on this list, talk to me about it after week 2’s class session. You may also select a book (with my approval) that touches upon one of the themes listed at the bottom of this list.

 

1. Barbara Ehrenreich. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America.

 

“Drunk on dot-coms and day trading, America has gone blind to the downside of its great prosperity. In (this book), Ehrenreich expertly peels away the layers of self-denial, self-interest, and self-protection that separate the rich from the poor, the served from the servers, the housed from the homeless. This brave and frank book is ultimately a challenge to create a less divided society.” (From the book jacket)

 

2. Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparell. Shackleton’s Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer.

 

“Using the Endurance sage as a case history, (the authors) have turned an analysis of Shackleton’s effective methods into a leadership handbook that reads like an adventure story. They show how successful leaders have patterned themselves on the incomparable Antarctic explorer.” (From the book jacket)

 

3. LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman. Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago.

 

“Where we live is a second America, where the laws of the land don’t apply and the laws of the street do. You must learn our America as we must learn your America, so that maybe, someday, we can become one.” (Excerpt from the book)

 

4. Thomas Kuhn. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

 

“A landmark in intellectual history which has attracted attention far beyond its own immediate field … It is written with a combination of depth and clarity that make it an almost unbroken series of aphorisms … Kuhn does not permit truth to be a criterion of scientific theories, he would presumably not claim his own theory to be true. But if causing a revolution is the hallmark of a superior paradigm, [this book] has been a resounding success."

 

5. Upton Sinclair. The Jungle.

 

This muckraking novel changed the course of history with its gruesomely detailed picture of the meatpacking industry. Historically accurate & humanistic, the book remains an invaluable mirror by which we may still examine ourselves & society today.

 

6. Mike Gray. The Death Game: Capital Punishment and the Luck of the Draw.

 

In 1998, Mike Gray changed the political landscape with his book Drug Crazy: How We Got Into This Mess and How We Can Get Out. His book is credited with turning the staunch Republican Governor of New Mexico against the drug war. Now, with The Death Game, he is destined to transform the terrain of criminal justice. Written with the power of a gritty novel, this documentary on the death penalty shows why justice and capital punishment don't mix. Zeroing in on issues of police brutality, pressures on prosecutors and judges seeking career advancement, and the frailty of eyewitness accounts, Gray puts you in the murder scene on page 1 and won't let you go until the final riveting paragraph.

 

7. Lisa Collen. A Job to Die For: Why so Many Americans are Killed, Injured or Made Ill at Work and What to do About it.

 

It's been nearly 100 years since the publication of Upton Sinclair's groundbreaking novel, The Jungle, exposing appallingly dangerous working conditions in our nation's cities. Now comes a devastating indictment of government agencies and industry lobbyists that hide occupational injury and death in the American workplace. In the wake of the Enron scandal, fingers wag at companies who harm their employees financially. Yet silence falls on a truly large American epidemic: the death, injury, and illness thousands of Americans suffer every year at the hands of their employers.

 

8. Robert Fuller. Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank.

 

In the ongoing attempts to overcome racism and sexism in North America today, we are overlooking another kind of discrimination that is no less damaging and equally unjustifiable. It is a form of injustice that everyone knows, but no one sees: discrimination based on rank. Low rank -- signifying weakness, vulnerability, and the absence of power -- marks you for abuse in much the same way that race, religion, gender and sexual orientation have long done. … Somebodies and Nobodies explains our reluctance to confront rankism, and argues that abuse based on power differences is no more justified than abuse based on color or gender differences. It shows where analyses based on identity fall short and, using dozens of examples to illustrate the argument, traces many forms of injustice and unfairness to rankism.

 

 

9. Sharon Hays. Flat Broke with Children: Women in the Age of Welfare Reform.

 

Hailed as a great success, welfare reform resulted in a dramatic decline in the welfare rolls--from 4.4 million families in 1996 to 2.1 million in 2001. But what does this "success" look like to the welfare mothers and welfare caseworkers who experienced it? In Flat Broke, With Children, Sharon Hays tells us the story of welfare reform from inside the welfare office and inside the lives of welfare mothers, describing the challenges that welfare recipients face in managing their work, their families, and the rules and regulations of welfare reform. Welfare reform, experienced on the ground, is not a rosy picture.

 

10. Lynnell Hancock. Hands to Work: The Stories of Three Families Racing the Welfare Clock.

 

"This new welfare world is an emerging, untested social experiment," the author writes, "one that has the potential to define what kind of nation we want to be, what kind of government we think is most fair. It's a political story. It's an economic story. It's a story about social reinvention. But in the end it is simply a human saga. It is about ordinary Americans trying to make a life for themselves, caught by an accident of timing in the wake of a social experiment meant to change the course of their lives."" As she examines the laws, policies, and reforms of the last decade, Hancock introduces us to the women who try to carve their futures around America's new commitment to the power of work.

 

11. Edward Humes. No Matter How Loud I Shout: A Year in the Life of Juvenile Court.

 

After being granted access by court order to a system that is usually closed to the public, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Humes (Buried Secrets) spent 1994 surveying the largely futile attempts of Los Angeles to deal with its juvenile crime. He concentrates here on a few who have not let themselves be overwhelmed by the deluge of defendants-80,000 cases are pending at any given time: Judge Roosevelt Dorn, who is also a clergyman; Deputy DA Peggy Beckstrand, who finally leaves the system to work on adult cases; Probation Officer Sharon Stegall, who tries to cope with the insurmountable burden of supervising 200 juveniles; Shery Gold, a public defender who also wants to move to adult courts. Humes follows closely the cases of seven young people who were caught up in the system, three of whom have been saved by it-maybe. (From Publisher’s Weekly)

 

12. Jennifer Johnson. Getting by on the Minimum: The Lives of Working Class Women.

 

Jennifer Johnson profiles the real-life stories of more than sixty women who have no college education, are married with kids, and earn an average of $16,000 per year, giving us an important window into a large, poorly understood segment of our society. Through the words of these women, Johnson captures the essence of women's working-class experience: from job stagnation, low self-esteem, and social isolation to camaraderie among coworkers, loyalty to one's roots, and even pride in a job well done. This compassionately told book offers a captivating and emotional study of the difference class makes in women's lives, as well as the problems, restrictions, and rewards common to all women.

 

13. Loretta Schwartz-Nobel. Growing up Empty: The Hunger Epidemic in America.

 

Already lauded as "a deft blend of tough investigative reporting and deep compassion . . . an unforgettable exploration of public policy, its failures and its victims" by the most respected senators, members of Congress, journalists and hunger advocates in the country, Growing Up Empty is a study of a hidden epidemic that still remains largely unacknowledged at the highest political levels. A call to action that will reenergize the national debate on the federal government's priorities, Growing Up Empty is advocacy journalism at its best.

 

14. Robert Putnam. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.

 

Once we bowled in leagues, usually after work; but no longer. This seemingly small phenomenon symbolizes a significant social change that Robert Putnam has identified and describes in this brilliant volume, Bowling Alone. Drawing on vast new data from the Roper Social and Political Trends and the DDB Needham Life Style -- surveys that report in detail on Americans' changing behavior over the past twenty-five years -- Putnam shows how we have become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, neighbors, and social structures, whether the PTA, church, recreation clubs, political parties, or bowling leagues. Our shrinking access to the "social capital" that is the reward of communal activity and community sharing is a serious threat to our civic and personal health. Putnam's groundbreaking work shows how social bonds are the most powerful predictor of life satisfaction.

 

15. Yaacov Lozowick. Hitler’s bureaucrats: Nazi Security Policy and the Banality of Evil.

 

Lozowick (Yad Vashem, Israel) argues that the traditional picture of Nazi bureaucrats as mere cogs in a death machine needs to be revised. According to Lozowick, Nazi bureaucrats from Eichmann on down were not only crucial to carrying out the "Final Solution" but were instrumental in shaping Nazi policy through the collection and analysis of information. The bureaucrats then enthusiastically implemented the policies they helped formulate. Although bureaucratic history tends to break down into minutiae, Lozowick is largely able to avoid this problem because he is not trying to write a history of the entire Nazi administration.

 

16. William Bratton and Peter Knobler. Turnaround: How America’s Top Cop Reversed the Crime Epidemic.

 

When Bill Bratton was sworn in as New York City's police commissioner in 1994, he made what many considered a bold promise: The NYPD would fight crime in every borough...and win. It seemed foolhardy; even everybody knows you can't win the war on crime. But Bratton delivered. In an extraordinary twenty-seven months, serious crime in New York City went down by 33 percent, the murder rate was cut in half—and Bill Bratton was heralded as the most charismatic and respected law enforcement official in America.. In this outspoken account of his news-making career, Bratton reveals how his cutting-edge policing strategies brought about the historic reduction in crime.

 

17. Diane Vaughan. The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture, and Deviance at NASA.

 

When the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on January 28, 1986, millions of Americans became bound together in a single, historic moment. Many still vividly remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard about the tragedy. In The Challenger Launch Decision, Diane Vaughan recreates the steps leading up to that fateful decision, contradicting conventional interpretations to prove that what occurred at NASA was not skulduggery or misconduct but a disastrous mistake. Why did NASA managers, who not only had all the information prior to the launch but also were warned against it, decide to proceed? In retelling how the decision unfolded through the eyes of the managers and the engineers, Vaughan uncovers an incremental descent into poor judgment, supported by a culture of high-risk technology. She reveals how and why NASA insiders, when repeatedly faced with evidence that something was wrong, normalized the deviance so that it became acceptable to them. No safety rules were broken. No single individual was at fault. Instead, the cause of the disaster is a story not of evil but of the banality of organizational life.

 

18. Charles Garofalo and Dean Gueras. Ethics in the Public Service: The Moral Mind at Work.

 

Serving the public interest with integrity requires a moral perspective that can rise above the day-to-day pressures of the job. This book integrates Western philosophy's most significant ethical theories and merges them with public administration theory to provide public administrators with an explicit moral foundation for ethical decision making.  "Ethics in the Public Service" reviews moral thought through the ages, from Plato to Rorty, and makes the philosophies of the more difficult thinkers accessible to both students and practitioners. Unifying seemingly disparate ethical positions, including those of Aristotle, Kant, and Mill, the authors defend the idea of objective moral truth and critique subjectivist views, refuting postmodernism and ethical relativism. Using their integrated objective approach, they tackle such dichotomies in public administration theory as bureaucracy vs. democracy, and they also examine a case study in an administrative setting.

 

19. Michael Useem. The Leadership Moment: Nine True Stories of Triumph and Disaster and Their Lessons for us all.

 

Are you ready for the leadership moment? Merck's Roy Vagelos commits millions of dollars to develop a drug needed only by people who can't afford it · Eugene Kranz struggles to bring the Apollo 13 astronauts home after an explosion rips through their spacecraft · Arlene Blum organizes the first women's ascent of one of the world's most dangerous mountains · Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain leads his tattered troops into a pivotal Civil War battle at Little Round Top · John Gutfreund loses Salomon Brothers when his inattention to a trading scandal almost topples the Wall Street giant · Clifton Wharton restructures a $50 billion pension system direly out of touch with its customers · Alfredo Cristiani transforms El Salvador's decade-long civil war into a negotiated settlement · Nancy Barry leads Women's World Banking in the fight against Third World poverty · Wagner Dodge faces the decision of a lifetime as a fast-moving forest fire overtakes his firefighting crew.

 

20. Rachel Carson. Silent Spring.

 

Three reasons to read Silent Spring: 1. This book, first published in 1962, launched the modern environmental movement. It also earned Carson, a modest marine biologist, a slot on Time's 100 Most Influential People of the Century list. 2. It's a great read. Calling Silent Spring "well crafted, fearless and succinct," Peter Matthiessen said of its author: "Even if she had not inspired a generation of activists, Carson would prevail as one of the greatest nature writers in American letters." 3. Carson's lucid, almost lyrical expose of the indiscriminate use of pesticides is still relevant.

 

21. Jeanne Kassler. Bitter Medicine: Greed and Chaos in American Healthcare.

 

Amidst the complexity and confusion over American healthcare reform, here is a doctor's unflinching analysis of how the system landed in intensive care in the first place. A cure can be devised once we comprehend the full history and illness of the patient, our own healthcare system.

 

22. Jerry Avorn. Powerful Medicine: The Benefits, Risks, and Costs of Prescription Drugs.

 

This is a comprehensive behind-the-scenes look at issues that affect everyone: our shortage of data comparing the worth of similar drugs for the same condition; alarming lapses in the detection of lethal side effects; the underuse of life-saving medications; lavish marketing campaigns that influence what doctors prescribe; and the resulting upward spiral of costs that places vital drug beyond the reach of many Americans.  

23. J. Samuel Walker. Three Mile Island: A Nuclear Crisis in Historical Perspective.

 

… On March 28, 1979 …  the worst accident in the history of commercial nuclear power in the United States occurred at Three Mile Island. For five days, amid growing alarm, the citizens of central Pennsylvania -- and the entire world -- followed the efforts of authorities to prevent the crippled plant from spewing dangerous quantities of radiation into the environment. This book is the first comprehensive account of the causes, context, and consequences of the Three Mile Island crisis. J. Samuel Walker captures the high human drama surrounding the accident, sets it in the context of the intensely polarized debate over nuclear power in the 1970s, and analyzes the social, technical, and political issues the accident raised. His book will clear misconceptions held to this day about Three Mile Island.

 

24. William McKewon. Idaho Falls: The Untold Story of America’s First Nuclear Accident.

 

When asked to name the world's first major nuclear accident, most people cite the Three Mile Island incident or the Chernobyl disaster. Revealed in this book is one of American history's best-kept secrets: the world's first nuclear reactor accident to claim fatalities happened on United States soil. Chronicled here for the first time is the strange tale of SL-1, a military test reactor located in Idaho's Lost River Desert that exploded on the night of January 3, 1961, killing the three-man maintenance crew on duty.

 

25. Greg Klerkx. Lost in Space: The Fall of NASA and the Dream of a New Space Age.

 

In Lost in Space, Greg Klerkx argues that ever since the last human left the moon in 1972, the Space Age has been stuck in the wrong orbit - and NASA, the organization that once fueled the world's space-fearing hopes, has been largely responsible for keeping it there. With the loss of the space shuttle Columbia, there has never been a more critical time for anyone interested in the future of space exploration to ask two questions: Whatever happened to the Space Age? And how do we get it back?

 

26. Malcolm Gladwell. Blink: The power of thinking without thinking

How do we make decisions--good and bad--and why are some people so much better at it than others? That's the question Malcolm Gladwell asks and answers in the follow-up to his huge bestseller, The Tipping Point. Utilizing case studies as diverse as speed dating, pop music, and the shooting of Amadou Diallo, Gladwell reveals that what we think of as decisions made in the blink of an eye are much more complicated than assumed. Drawing on cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology, he shows how the difference between good decision-making and bad has nothing to do with how much information we can process quickly, but on the few particular details on which we focus.

 

27. Malcolm Gladwell. The tipping point: How little things can make a big difference

Why did crime in New York drop so suddenly in the mid-'90s? How does an unknown novelist end up a bestselling author? Why is teenage smoking out of control, when everyone knows smoking kills? What makes TV shows like Sesame Street so good at teaching kids how to read? Why did Paul Revere succeed with his famous warning? He reveals how easy it is to cause group behavior to tip in a desirable direction by making small changes in our immediate environment.

 

28. James Surowiecki. The wisdom of crowds: Why the many are smarter than the few …

In this endlessly fascinating book, New Yorker columnist James Surowiecki explores a deceptively simple idea that has profound implications: large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant—better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future.

 

29. Max Bazerman et al. Predictable surprises: The disasters you should have seen coming and how to prevent them

Were the earth-shattering events of September 11, 2001, predictable, or were they a surprise? What about the collapse of Enron in bankruptcy and scandal? Max H. Bazerman and Michael D. Watkins argue that they were actually "predictable surprises"-disastrous examples of the failure to recognize potential tragedies and actively work to prevent them. Disturbingly, this dangerous phenomenon has its roots in universal human and organizational tendencies that leave no individual or company immune.

 

30. Peter Schwartz. Inevitable surprises: Thinking ahead in a time of turbulence

The world we live in today is more volatile than ever. The security of free nations is threatened by rogue states, the global economy is in flux, and the rapid advance of technology forces constant reevaluation of our society. With so many powerful forces at work and seemingly unpredictable events occurring, to many the future seems dark, and its possibilities frightening. Peter Schwartz disagrees. A world-renowned visionary in the field of scenario planning, Schwartz's startling—and accurate— predictions have been employed by government agencies and major corporations for more than twenty-five years. He argues that the future is foreseeable, and that by examining the dynamics at work today we can predict the “inevitable surprises” of tomorrow.

 

31. Stephen Klaidman. Coronary: A true story of medicine gone awry

By nearly every standard except ethics, Chae Hyun Moon and Fidal Realyvasquez were superb retailers. These Redding Medical Center cardiologists tirelessly drummed up business where there was no need, convincing more than 1,000 patients to undergo completely unnecessary heart procedures. Stephen Klaidman's Coronary is a jarring real-life medical-legal thriller, complete with an eccentric hero (a former accountant turned Catholic priest), masterful FBI investigators, and exciting courtroom scenes. Stranger than fiction; best not read in doctors' waiting rooms.

 

32. Max Bazerman. Judgment in managerial decision making

How do you improve your decision-making abilities in order to make sound judgments? Combining behavioral decision research into the organizational realm, this book examines judgment in a variety of managerial contexts. It provides readers with a systematic framework for using psychological findings to improve judgment. It also offers a critique of the classic economic model of decision-making and explains how to create opportunities to make better decisions.

 

33. Kenneth Feinberg. What is life worth? The unprecedented effort to compensate the victims of 9/11.

Kenneth Feinberg was given the world's most painful task. As head of the September 11th Compensation Fund, he was asked, in the interest of fairness, to calculate the dollar values of each of the 2,976 lives lost in the World Trade Center attacks. Day after day, he attempted to establish the most equitable equations of human suffering and loss. This experience changed him forever; What Life Is Worth is the story of that experience.

 

34. David Oshinksy. Polio: An American story (winner of a 2006 Pulitzer Prize)

All who lived in the early 1950s remember the fear of polio and the elation felt when a successful vaccine was found. Now David Oshinsky tells the gripping story of the polio terror and of the intense effort to find a cure, from the March of Dimes to the discovery of the Salk and Sabin vaccines-and beyond. … The polio experience also revolutionized the way in which the government licensed and tested new drugs before allowing them on the market, and the way in which the legal system dealt with manufacturers' liability for unsafe products. Finally, and perhaps most tellingly, Oshinsky reveals that polio was never the raging epidemic portrayed by the media, but in truth a relatively uncommon disease. But in baby-booming America-increasingly suburban, family-oriented, and hygiene-obsessed-the specter of polio, like the specter of the atomic bomb, soon became a cloud of terror over daily life.

 

35. Jean Lipman-Blumen. Allure of toxic leaders: Why we follow destructive bosses and corrupt politicians – and how we can survive them

Why do we knowingly follow, seldom unseat, frequently prefer, and sometimes even create toxic leaders? Lipman-Blumen argues that these leaders appeal to our deepest needs, playing on our anxieties and fears, on our yearnings for security, high self-esteem, and significance, and on our desire for noble enterprises and immortality. She also explores how followers inadvertently keep themselves in line by a set of insidious control myths that they internalize. For example, that the leader must necessarily be in a position to "know more" than the follower. In addition, outside forces--such as economic depressions, political upheavals, or a crisis in a company--can increase our anxiety and our longing for charismatic leaders. Lipman-Blumen shows how followers can learn critical lessons for the future and survive in the meantime.

 

Themes: leadership (especially in public and nonprofit organizations); impact of public policies poor and marginal populations; knowledge and sense-making; complexity in organizations; ethics; power and its abuse.

 

 

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