Linda F. Willing
P.O. Box 148
Grand Lake, CO
New additions will be made to this list monthly. If you would like to suggest resources that should be added to this list, please contact us.
This Month's Pick:
Them: Why We Hate Each Other and How to Heal by Ben Sasse. St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2018. In these contentious times, wouldn’t it be nice to sit down for a thoughtful, civil conversation with someone who has very different views about some things than you do? This book strives to start that kind of conversation. The author, a Republican Senator from Nebraska, is clear about his point of view, but respectful in how he expresses it, and there is plenty of room to find common ground. He strives to be inclusive in his discussion, although does not always succeed. For example, I wish he would avoid the cliché “little old lady” which he uses repeatedly, and unnecessarily, in one of his chapters. But maybe that illustrates the underlying point—that we must work through these smaller differences to get at what really matters.
Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas. Alfred A. Knopf, New York 2018. Can serious problems be solved by the same processes that created them in the first place? Is it enough to ask others to give more if they are also unwilling to take less? How can systemic change really occur? This book looks at these questions in the context of corporate-style philanthropy, but the questions asked are relevant to any organization that wants to make core level changes but is not entirely sure it wants to disrupt its core assumptions.
Reinventing Organizations; A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness by Frederic Laloux. Nelson Parker, 2014. What kinds of organizations will succeed in the next twenty years? How will organizations need to change to meet new challenges? This book outlines the history of organizations from the beginning of civilization to the present, and then speculates on how future organizations might dismantle hierarchy to fully engage and empower workers. The premise might seem unrealistic, but a number of successful businesses are currently experimenting with models inspired by this book.
Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald. Delacorte Press, New York, 2013. This is a book about implicit bias in human beings, written by the creators of the test for this phenomenon, the Implicit Association Test (IAT). The IAT has been used to gather data from millions of people worldwide, and is available for anyone to use at www.implicit.harvard.edu. This instrument forms the basis for the discussion of unconscious bias related to race, gender, ethnicity, age, and sexual orientation.
The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro. Random House, 2012. In this 50th anniversary year of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, it is worth spending time understanding the events of that period from the point of view of the unexpected new president, Lyndon Johnson. As a historic figure, Lyndon Johnson was characterized by his lust for and mastery of power, his single-mindedness, and chronic insecurity. The Vietnam War ultimately brought him down, but this book chronicles the first months of his presidency, when President Johnson embodied greatness.
The Autobiography of Mother Jones. Charles H. Kerr and Company, 1925. Mary (Mother) Jones was an Irish immigrant born in the mid-1800s who later became an icon in the American labor movement. When she was 37, her husband and all four of her children died during a yellow fever epidemic. She returned to work to support herself and in her later life became a key figure in labor justice, especially among coal miners and steel workers, and was also a leading voice against child labor. This book is informative and inspiring, not only because of the amazing courage and accomplishments of this woman, but also because most of her work was done when she was in her 70s to early 90s.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. Random House, 2012. Habits drive our behavior in ways we do not actively recognize. We all know how difficult it is to break a bad habit. But can positive habits create new patterns of behavior that lead to fundamental individual and cultural change? This fascinating and very readable book details a number of case studies, from business to sports to social justice, to demonstrate how small actions can bring about big changes in the long run.
Busy: How to Thrive in a World of Too Much by Tony Crabbe. Grand Central Publishing, New York, 2015. This book’s author understands that you are busy—too busy—and he does not waste your time. In short, well summarized chapters, this book looks at current research related to attention, multitasking, and setting priorities. The book includes practical tips for improving focus and satisfaction in both work and private life in a very accessible format.
Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. Random House, New York, 2016. This book discusses productivity in terms of eight factors: motivation, teams, focus, goal setting, managing others, decision making, innovation, and absorbing data. Through the use of case studies and stories, the author presents clear guidelines for increased effectiveness at both the individual and organizational levels, and also challenges some common wisdom about workplace productivity.
The Power of Noticing: What the Best Leaders See by Max H. Bazerman. Simon and Schuster, 2014. This book explores the relationship of bad decisions to the lack of consideration of key information. Often this information is not considered because it simply isn’t noticed. The author is a leading scholar of decision science and this book is a good introduction to recent research and case studies in the field.
Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. Crown Business, 2013. This book is a very accessible overview of basic decision making theory and the pitfalls that come with many decision making processes. Some of the best material in the book are the questions offered for testing decisions, such as, “What would have to be true for this to be the right answer?” and “What would you do if none of your current choices were possible?”
Driven to Distraction at Work: How to Focus and Be More Productive by Edward M. Hallowell, MD. Harvard Business Review Press, 2015. This book’s author is an expert in the medical condition Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). In this book, he talks of a problem that affects many more people, Attention Deficit Trait. This condition is largely fed by modern life, particularly our obsession with electronic media. The book provides practical tips for managing the constant demands on our lives and bringing more energy and engagement to everything we do.
Wait: The Art and Science of Delay by Frank Partnoy. Public Affairs Press, 2012. This book is a fascinating and well researched look at the role of timing in decision making, using examples from athletes to fighter pilots to Wall Street traders. A valuable takeaway is to use all the time you have to make the best decision, even if that time is measured in milliseconds.
Courage: The Backbone of Leadership by Gus Lee with Diane Elliott-Lee. Jossey-Bass, 2006. What are the most important values in life? This book distills the answer down to just three: integrity, courage, and character. Through the discussion of case studies, the authors present this question to readers: What is important in your life and what is essential? And what can you do today to be sure that the essential aspects of life are always prioritized, both at work and in one’s personal life?
Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz. Harper Collins 2010. Everyone makes mistakes. But none of us ever intends to be wrong, and many of us, as individuals and groups, expend much time and energy insisting that we are in fact right. This book talks about the history and philosophy of human error, talks about mistakes related to perception, reference, and belief, and ultimately reframes the inevitability of human error as a requirement for creativity and growth.
The Smart Swarm: How Understanding Flocks, Schools, and Colonies can Make us Better at Communicating, Decision Making, and Getting Things Done by Peter Miller. Avery Press 2010. Behavioral science shows that under some conditions, groups make far better decisions than any individual within that group would otherwise make. However, sometimes groups can go seriously off the rails and lead all members to ruin. This fascinating book uses examples of animal groups in the natural world to highlight the ways that decisions can be enhanced in groups through the principles of self-organization, diversity of information, indirect collaboration, and effective coordination.
Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes by Alfie Kohn. Houghton Mifflin Co. 1999. This controversial book takes issue with the behavorist approach to motivation, most commonly associated with B.F. Skinner and his famous experiments related to positive and negative reinforcement. The author uses solid research to make a case for people being far more effectively motivated from intrinsic factors rather than extrinsic rewards. This book was the beginning of a movement toward research and management practice based on intrinsic motivation, as well as a number of more recent books (see Drive below.)
Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek. Portfolio/Penguin, New York, 2009. This book has a very simple message: achievement is about what you do, but success is a result of why you do it. The author uses clear examples to illustrate his point that transactional motivators will only work in the short term, and long term success is about people feeling a sense of identity with common mission. This book and the author’s related TED talk have inspired many, although I must admit at times it did feel like an extended advertisement for Apple. My favorite concept from the book: that values and guiding principles are only effective when they are understood as verbs rather than nouns—not “we value honesty” but instead “we value doing the right thing.”
A Deadly Wandering: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention by Matt Richtel. William Morrow, 2014. In March 2009 the State of Utah enacted one of the toughest laws in the nation related to texting while driving. This law was the direct result of a distracted driving incident three years earlier that had taken the lives of two men. This book tells the story of that event in detail and also describes the current science related to attention.
Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? by Michael J. Sandel. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York, 2009. Books about ethics tend toward the extremes– either easily accessible but insubstantial as a result, or so ponderous that reading them is like wading through knee-deep mud. This book strikes a good balance: being seriously grounded in philosophical principles but using modern examples to illustrate concepts. This book is still a challenge to read but you’ll want to stick with it.
Sensemaking in Organizations by Karl E. Weick. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA 1995. It is an understatement to say that this book is slow going. Its academic style and language are not very accessible. But perseverance pays off as the author provides critical insights about how people make sense of their lives within organizations, how organizations can be more meaningful and engaging for members, and exactly how diversity of cognition enhances decision making outcomes.
Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance by Alex Hutchinson. William Morrow, New York, 2018. Why do some people easily complete marathons and others fade in the first few miles? Is it just physical training that predicts performance, or are more factors in play? This book, written by an elite runner, discusses in depth the specific elements that contribute to physical achievement, including how pain, heat, thirst, fuel, and muscle fatigue all work together to change outcomes for different individuals. Most interestingly, the book talks about the role of the mind in directing physical performance.
Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker, PhD. Scribner, New York, 2017. Scientists and doctors have long understood that regular quality sleep is essential to good health, and even to survival, but only recently are they beginning to understand why. Poor sleep not only affects cognition, reaction time, mood, and physical coordination, but new research shows that sleep is critical for normal metabolic and immune functions as well. Current research shows links to sleep disorders and diseases such as cancer and Type 2 diabetes. This book discusses current research in detail and provides guidance for improving sleep without use of medication.
Beyond Bullying: Breaking the Cycle of Shame, Bullying, and Violence by Jonathan Fast. Oxford University Press, New York, 2016. This is not a how-to book for preventing school or workplace bullying. Instead, this book looks at the deeper historical, social, and psychological roots of bullying behavior and especially how responses to feelings of shame feed the bullying cycle. This book looks at the big picture, but specific case studies are used as examples.
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink. Riverhead Books, 2009. Everyone knows the concepts of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation– the motivation from within vs. that which occurs as a result of external factors such as money and awards or the avoidance of negative consequences. This book combines solid research with a very conversational writing style to challenge whether extrinsic motivation really works in most circumstances.
What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell. Little, Brown & Co. 2009. This book is a collection of the author’s essays that were originally published in the New Yorker. The book is divided into three parts: Obsessives, Pioneers, and other Varieties of Minor Genius; Theories, Predictions, and Diagnoses; and Personality, Character, and Intelligence. Two of the more interesting essays discuss the difference between panicking and choking and the problem with job interviews as a hiring too.
Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright. HarperCollins 2008. This book not only has a clear and important message about understanding and managing organizational culture, but its 'tell it like it is' style is both engaging and refreshing. Any book that references the movie "Office Space" (among many other examples) when discussing organizational pitfalls is worth looking at, in my opinion.
Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ by Daniel Goleman. Bantam Books, 1995, new edition 2005. This book, written more than 10 years ago, has become a classic work in determining the factors that lead to success beyond standard measurements. There are many spin-offs to this book, but the original is still worth reading.
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011. How do individuals process information to make decisions? How valid is intuition in decision making? How useful are experts? These are just a few of the topics tackled in this fascinating and complex book. By no means an easy read, this book is worth the time and attention it demands.
The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by David J. Morris. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. These days it seems like everyone talks about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but this was not always the case. The author, a former Marine who also served in Iraq as a journalist, writes the history of PTSD, its current status in American society, and what types of treatments are currently being offered those who suffer from it. The information presented is fascinating– that rape victims are several times more likely to suffer from PTSD than are combat veterans, yet routinely get far less support. That survivors of the Hanoi Hilton prison in North Vietnam experienced some of the lowest rates of PTSD, due to three factors: maturity and training, a strong and stable support system among fellow prisoners, and a public and positive reception upon their release. The author frames the book in his own struggle with PTSD and he writes with grace, humor, and wisdom.
The Man Who Shocked the World: The Life and Legacy of Stanley Milgram by Thomas Blass. Basic Books, 2004. Stanley Milgram was a psychologist whose defining work was research on obedience. He found through experiments that people across all demographics and nationalities were likely to obey authority even when they personally felt the order given was wrong. This book clearly defines Milgram's research (which was much more far-reaching than just the work on obedience) and also tells the story of the life of this controversial man.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Random House, 2016. In 2013, Paul Kalanithi was nearing the end of an arduous neurosurgery residency and poised to begin what would be a life of great achievement and reward. Then he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. This book eloquently examines mortality and the substance of a meaningful life, even as the author lived his last days. Heartbreaking, unsentimental, uplifting, and insightful– this book has something to offer to any reader.
Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman. Doubleday, 2008. There is not a lot of new material on the subject here, but the information is assembled in a highly readable and entertaining format. Particularly interesting is the discussion and examples that show that people are more motivated by what they have to lose versus what they have to gain.
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely. Harper-Collins, 2008. This fascinating and highly readable book discusses some of the specific factors that can lead to irrational or bad decisions. Of particular interest was the section dealing with the distinction between social norms and market norms-- unstated rules that will often make people work harder for free than they will for low pay. Many of the concepts are worth close consideration by anyone in a leadership position.
Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Sherry Turkle. Basic Books, 2011. There is no question that technology has changed the way people communicate and relate to one another. This book is a detailed examination of the ways technology has made people feel less connected even as they have wider virtual connection in the world. The author uses many specific examples, especially among young people who know no other world than the one dominated by social media, smart phones, and Twitter.
Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert D. Putnam. Simon & Schuster, 2000. This book is an exhaustive study of the questions: What is social capital and why should we care about it? Through the use of extensive data, the author discusses why American society has become less community oriented since the 1950s, what effect this change has on everything from labor unions to bowling leagues, and what has been lost in the process of shifting to a more individualistic society in this country. Some of the material is a bit dated-- the book was written before the explosion of social media-- but the basic premises are interesting and a bit disturbing.
Why We Make Mistakes by Joseph T. Hallinan. Broadway Books, 2009. This well researched yet highly readable book describes the many ways human beings make avoidable errors, from overestimating their abilities to multitasking. The author gives current (and often entertaining) examples that illustrate the many ways individuals go wrong while trying to do the right thing.
Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina. Pear Press, 2008. This book offers an accessible and engaging introduction to brain science, including how memories are formed and conserved, the function of sleep, and why multi-tasking is a myth. The writing is conversational and each chapter includes a one page summary. This book is a great introduction to fascinating topics that will demand additional inquiry.
The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar. Twelve Press, 2010. This book provides an accessible, even conversational introduction to the research associated with choice on an individual level. One concept covered is the fact that unlimited choice does not lead to happiness or even effectiveness in most cases. The author was one of the researchers associated with the classic “jam study” which showed that people who have access to thirty choices among options are less likely to make a purchase compared to someone who has a choice only among six.
The Memory Jogger: A Pocket Guide of Tools for Continuous Improvement and Effective Planning by Michael Brassard and Diane Ritter. GOAL/QPC 1994. This small spiral bound book includes dozens of examples of planning and management tools, each with a clear explanation and tips for success. No theory here, just practical application. An incredible amount of useful information in a very small space.
Tough Training Topics: A Presenter's Survival Guide by Steve Albrecht. Pfeiffer/John Wiley Publishers, 2006. This book contains a wealth of practical information for presenters in any format, but is especially focused on the challenges associated with the tough training topics such as harassment prevention, conflict resolution, workplace violence prevention, and performance evaluation, among others. The first part of the book clearly outlines key points for good presentations and would be useful for all presenters, regardless of their topic or experience.
Mission-Based Management: Leading Your Not-For-Profit in the 21st Century by Peter C. Brinckerhoff. 2nd Edition. John Wiley & Sons, 2000. Although the focus of this book is not-for-profit organizations, it has plenty to offer to organizations of all types. The chapter on marketing is particularly useful. The emphasis on clear mission and accountability is critical to the success of any organization.
Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making by Sam Kaner et. al. New Society Publishers, 1996. This is a very accessible book that is full of practical tips for better management of decision making processes. The book includes charts, diagrams, check lists, case studies, and specific activities.
The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything by Stephen M. R. Covey. Free Press, 2006. "Leadership is getting results in a way that inspires trust." This statement summarizes the focus of this book which looks at the various levels of trust and credibility as critical aspects of leadership. If you have read any of the author's father's work (Seven Habits of Highly Effective People etc.), much about this book will seem familiar. But it is always worth hearing again.
The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz. Harper Collins Publishers, 2004. Does having more options in our lives make us happier? Can having too many choices actually make people unhappier or less effective in decision making? What strategies do people use when their choices seem to expand nearly infinitely? These questions are addressed with wit and insight in this accessible and well researched book.
The Ethics Edge edited by Evan M. Berman, Jonathan P. West & Stephen J. Bonczek. ICMA Practical Management Series, 1998. This book consists of twenty different articles and essays about workplace ethical challenges. There is a wide variety of approaches and styles, and the writing is both academically sound and accessible.
Lateral Thinking Puzzles by Paul Sloan, Sterling Publishers, 1991. This is one of a series of small books filled with brain teaser puzzles that require creative "lateral" rather than linear thinking. These can be fun to use as ice breakers or group problem solving challenges.
The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam. Fawcett Publications, 1972. This is a classic and incredibly detailed study of the circumstances and leadership decisions that led the U.S. into involvement in the Vietnam War. Fascinating, readable, and all too timely.
Grassroots and Nonprofit Leadership: A Guide for Organizations in Changing Times by Berit Lakey, George Lakey, Rod Napier and Janice Robinson. New Society Publishers, 1995. Although written with nonprofit organizations in mind, this book has much to offer organizations that are trying to clarify their missions, manage staff and volunteers, and deal with change.
Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future by Margaret J. Wheatley. Berrett-Koehler Publishers 2002. Meg Wheatley is one of this country's leading voices on management theory, but this is not your typical management book. Instead, Dr. Wheatley combines short essays, poetry, queries and stories to promote conversations about what kind of future we want to create.
Making Meetings Work: Achieving High Quality Group Decisions by John E. Tropman, Sage Publications, 1996. This book goes well beyond common wisdom and feel-good rhetoric and takes a scientific approach to designing and running meetings that actually accomplish their goals, while at the same time creating increased opportunities for member involvement.
Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History selected and introduced by William Safire. W.W. Norton and Co. 2004. This updated version of a previous book provides historical context and original texts for hundreds of famous and not-so-famous speeches from ancient Greece to the present. It's a great reference for those in positions of influencing others.
The Abilene Paradox and Other Meditations on Management by Jerry B. Harvey. Lexington Books, 1988. Although published over 20 years ago, this book still has much to offer in the discussion of leadership and management. In addition to the title essay which discusses the problem of "managing agreement," other excellent chapters include "Captain Asoh and the Concept of Grace," and "Eichmann in the Organization."
The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki. Doubleday, 2004. After reading this book, you will never think the same again about how groups make decisions. The book is well researched, fascinating, and ultimately readable.
Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions by Gary Klein. The MIT Press, 1998. This fascinating book about decision making uses examples from the emergency services, including specific fire service scenarios.
Job Feedback: Giving, Seeking and Using Feedback for Performance Improvement by Manuel London. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, 1997. This book takes researched yet accessible approach to a topic that doesn't get nearly enough attention. The text is well organized and contains many good points for better feedback.
Winning 'Em Over: A New Model for Management in the Age of Persuasion by Jay A. Conger. Simon & Schuster, 1998. This clearly written book highlights the critical difference between persuasion and manipulation, and provides many excellent insights and tips for doing better persuasive presentations.
TeamWork: What Must Go Right, What Can Go Wrong by Carl E. Larson and Frank. M. J. LaFasto (Sage Publications, 1989) is an excellent resource on principle-based leadership. The book is brief, focused and practical in its observations and suggestions.
Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading by Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky (Harvard Business School Press, 2002) offers a clear guide to the challenges and rewards of what the authors refer to as adaptive leadership.
The Logic of Failure: Why things go wrong and what we can do to make them right by Dietrich Dorner (Metropolitan Books) is a fascinating book about why good intentions and plans sometimes yield bad results. The book is both highly readable and well researched, using computer modeling to illustrate its concepts.
A Practical Guide to Organization Design by Margaret R. Davis and David A. Weckler. Crisp Publications, 1996. This slim book does a good job explaining the complex subject of business process reengineering. The format is clear and includes examples and workbook pages for each chapter.
The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. W.W. Norton 2010. There is growing research that technology developments such as the Internet change not only how we learn but also how we think. This book takes a historical, scientific, and personal approach to this issue that may seem a bit ponderous to some, but utterly fascinating to many others. In particular, the author discusses the ramifications to society when people are no longer motivated to or even capable of "deep reading" and the thought processes that accompany it.
Conceptual Blockbusting: A Guide to Better Ideas by James L. Adams. Addison-Wesley Publishers. This fun, fascinating book challenges and instructs on the subject of learning how to think more creatively and effectively. Filled with exercises that illustrate the topics, and heavily (and often humorously) illustrated, this book has much to offer any manager who wants to foster a more resourceful and innovative workforce.
Organizational Culture and Leadership by Edgar H. Schein. Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1992. This academic but quite readable book is one of the best resources for understanding how organizational culture develops and how it affects performance and the ability to change. If you have interest in this topic, and you take the time needed for this book, you will be amply rewarded.
Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change by William Bridges. Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1991. Philosophical and practical at the same time, with exercises and checklists at the end of each chapter. Also by the same author: Transitions, an inquiry into personal change.
A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayes. WW Norton, New York, 2017. This book takes both a personal and historical perspective on the issues that divide us at a fundamental level by race and class in the United States. The criminal justice system is a focus of the discussion. The author is a well-known journalist and television commentator who does not spare himself from scrutiny.
The Art of the Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World by Peter Schwartz. Doubleday, 1996. The basics of scenario-based planning.
The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization by Peter M. Senge. Doubleday, 1990. A fundamental text on creating positive organizational change.
101 Creative Problem Solving Techniques: The Handbook of New Ideas for Business by James M. Higgins. The New Management Publishing Company, 1994. This dense but user friendly book provides dozens of specific ideas for moving through the problem solving process. Exercises which enhance problem definition, brainstorming and implementation are included as well as case histories and extensive reference lists. This book is corporate focused in its examples, and does require some commitment to be useful, but it contains a wealth of great ideas all presented in one place. top
A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnit. Viking, New York, 2009. Can disaster foster inclusiveness? Why do some disasters bring out the best in people, while others allow societies to descend into chaos? This book profiles well-known disasters since the early 20th century, starting with the San Francisco earthquake and ending with Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and identifies clear factors that contribute to better outcomes in the face of great loss. At their best, such events can be the “moral equivalent of war” in their ability to bring people together to a common cause greater than any individual.
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. Carroll & Graf Publishers, New York: 1959, 1999. This is absolutely one of the best studies in leadership and team management you will ever read. This historical account recreates the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton, who sailed from England in 1914 for the purpose of launching an expedition across the interior of Antarctica. No one could have predicted the calamities that the team would encounter once underway, or the ultimate outcome of the voyage. If you are not familiar with this story, the book will keep you on the edge of your seat with its exciting, suspenseful narrative. Even if you know the story, pay attention to the actions of Shackleton as he leads his crew of 27 men through one disaster after another. Notice his attention to detail, and his total commitment to his men in every action and word. He is an inspiration to anyone who has ever led others under adverse conditions.
The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture, and Deviance at NASA by Diane Vaughn. The University of Chicago Press, 1996. This book is an exhaustively researched, yet still remarkably readable account of how good people can make bad decisions. The book provides a detailed chronology and analysis of the events that led up to the space shuttle tragedy in 1986, focusing on how subtle aspects of organizational culture influenced the decisions along the way.
Psychology of Terrorism edited by Bruce Bongar, Lisa M. Brown, Larry E. Beutler, James N. Breckenridge and Philip G. Zimbardo. Oxford University Press, 2007. This book contains many valuable chapters, but every emergency responder should read the chapter "Understanding How Organizational Bias Influenced First Responders at the World Trade Center" by Joseph W. Pfeifer. Chief Pfeifer was one of the first officers on the scene on 9/11. He discusses with unflinching honesty the breakdown in communications between police and fire that day, and the need for unified command. Had such a command structure been in place, he states, "many more firefighters and emergency responders would be alive today."
Four Hours in My Lai by Michael Bilton and Kevin Sim. Penguin Books, 1992. This detailed and harrowing account of the massacre at My Lai includes extensive research into the prelude and follow up to the event. This is a critically important study of the role that leadership plays when ordinary people do terrible things.
102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn. Times Books, 2005. This harrowing and riveting narrative describes the choices and many acts of heroism among those who were trapped in the World Trade Center as well as those who came to rescue them. There are countless lessons about leadership at its most essential level. You won't be able to put it down.
Shackleton and the Antarctic Explorers: The Men Who Battled to Reach the South Pole by Gavin Mortimer. Barnes and Noble Books, New York, 1999. Many books have been written about the Age of Exploration and the race to the South Pole. The stories are well known. But this book is a welcome addition due to its succinct storytelling and especially for the wonderful illustrations, including photographs not commonly seen in other books.
The 9/11 Commission Report W.W. Norton and Co., 2004. Compelling, thorough and remarkably well written, this report should be read by every American. At the very least, all emergency service providers should read the chapter entitled "Heroism and Horror."
Endurance: An Epic of Polar Adventure by F. A. Worsley. WW Norton and Sons, 1931, 1999. Frank Worsley writes about the famous expedition with Ernest Shackleton in 1914 that resulted in the loss of the ship and near-miraculous efforts that led to all 28 men surviving for nearly two years on the Antarctic ice. Worsley is the perfect example of the team member every explorer would want to have– skilled, relentlessly hard working, and unfailingly cheerful. He is also a fine writer and this is one of the better accounts of Shackleton’s life and contributions as an explorer and leader.
Leading at the Edge: Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition by Dennis N.T. Perkins with Margaret P. Holtman, Paul R. Kessler and Catherine McCarthy. Amacom Press, 2000. This book uses the amazing survival story of Ernest Shackleton’s failed 1914 Antarctic expedition as the basis for forming ten essential lessons about leadership. The book includes many details from the original accounts of the expedition, as well as making some interesting comparisons with other similar expeditions that had much less favorable outcomes.
Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt. Penguin Books, 1963, 1977. How is that ordinary people come to do extraordinarily horrible things? This book, based on original reporting at Adolf Eichmann's 1961 trial, is a harrowing and important study of good and evil, and the often fine line between the two. Especially interesting are the accounts of what people did or did not do to resist the Nazi "Final Solution" against the Jews in Europe.
Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of Homeland Security by Christopher Cooper and Robert Block. Times Books, 2006. This is a well researched account of what went wrong and what could have happened differently in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The book references many primary sources and interviews with key figures as well as telling a number of stories not widely known. A very interesting book for anyone concerned with interagency response and organizational culture.
The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty by Caroline Alexander. Viking 2003. Most people have heard of the Mutiny on the Bounty, if only from old movies, but it is likely few understand the subtleties of the event and its historical significance. This book is a study in the failure of leadership, the importance of team, and the critical role of common mission.
Alive by Piers Paul Read. Harper Perennial 1974, 2002. In 1972, a chartered plane crashed in the Andes carrying a young rugby team on its way to a competition in Chile. Expecting an uneventful short flight over the mountains, the passengers carried minimal clothing and personal items and almost no emergency supplies. What transpired for the survivors of the crash over the next 72 days is both horrifying and deeply inspiring, and a true case study in leadership under the most dire circumstances.
Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World by Joan Druett. Algonquin Books, 2007. In desperate conditions, leadership really matters. In 1864, two different ships wrecked on opposite shores of the Auckland Islands, but because they were separated by an uninhabited and forbidding wilderness, the survivors from each wreck never knew about the existence of the other. One party of five thrived and ended up self-rescuing after surviving for more than 18 months. The other party of 19 quickly died off until only three remained, and they barely hung on for a year before being picked up by a passing ship. This book tells the story of both groups in a straightforward way that includes many leadership lessons for groups in any circumstances.
The Brilliant Disaster: JFK, Castro, and America's Doomed Invasion of Cuba's Bay of Pigs by Jim Rasenberger. Scribner, 2011. The 1961 invasion of Cuba by expatriots under the leadership of the United States has been used often as an example of groupthink, and how decision making among very smart people can go very wrong. The facts of the events were more nuanced and complicated than most accounts recognize. This new book tells the story in rich and compelling detail, and is a great case study for anyone interested in making better group decisions.
Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales. W.W. Norton & Co. 2004. Inspired by his own father’s miraculous survival during World War II, the author investigates a number of case studies to examine the factors that contribute to survival under dire circumstances. In particular, he looks at the role of systems in accidents, and how complex, tightly coupled systems can contribute to events that seem inevitable. A key lesson of survival from the book is the importance of seeing the world as it really is, not as you want or expect it to be.
Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink. Thorndike Press, 2013. This book reads like the horror movie it describes. Half Armageddon and half legal investigation, this book has much to say about ethics and decision making at the individual, organizational, and societal levels, using the experiences at a hospital in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as the focal case study.
Ice Master: The Doomed 1913 Voyage of the Karluk by Jennifer Niven. Hyperion, New York 2000. The history of polar exploration provides many lessons in leadership for better (think Shackleton and the Endurance) and for worse. This book describes one of the latter examples, a poorly planned and executed voyage into the Arctic, where the leader abandoned the ship after it was stuck in the ice and half the remaining members died. Survival stories have much to teach us even today about what is essential and the critical importance of teamwork and leadership.
In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides. Random House, 2014. In the late 19th Century, the world became fascinated and nearly obsessed with polar exploration. However, the lack of good data and information (for example, it was commonly believed that a warm open sea surrounded the North Pole) led to many disastrous expeditions. The USS Jeannette, financed by New York City newspaper publisher James Gordon Bennett, left San Francisco in 1879, attempting to find a route to the North Pole. The challenges they faced in the next two years would make survival by any person seem impossible, yet men did survive, even after losing their ship, becoming separated in an Arctic gale, and struggling across the Siberian tundra with no food. Stories like this underscore the meaning of good leadership.
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Scholastic Press, 1987. This is one of best survival books I have ever read and it was written for a middle school audience. The fictional story recounts the experiences of 13 year old Brian, who survives alone after a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness. The writing is pitch-perfect and the message is important: “He did not know how long it took, but later he looked back on this time of crying in the corner of the dark cave and thought of it as when he learned the most important rule of survival, which was that feeling sorry for yourself didn’t work. It wasn’t just that it was wrong to do, or that it was considered incorrect. It was more than that– it didn’t work. When he sat alone in the darkness and cried and was done, all done with it, nothing had changed. His leg still hurt, it was still dark, he was still alone and the self-pity had accomplished nothing."
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. Little, Brown & Co. 2008. Why do some people succeed spectacularly and others fail? What factors other than innate talent and ability determine successful outcomes? This book uses examples as diverse as hockey teams, tech company leaders, school children, and commercial airline pilots to highlight factors that are consistent with success.
Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle that Set Them Free by Hector Tobar. Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2014. In 2010, 33 men were trapped more than 2000 feet underground when a Chilean mine collapsed. For 17 days, they were completely isolated and starving. On the 17th day, rescuers broke through but the miners had to wait another 52 days before it was possible to bring all of them to the surface. While trapped in those first weeks, the miners made a pact that they would join together as a group to tell their story once they were free. This book is the result of that pact. It’s a remarkable story of survival but also has a lot to say about leadership, especially dispersed leadership among a group.
The Leadership Moment: Nine True Stories of Triumph and Disaster and their Lessons for Us All by Michael Useem. Three Rivers Press, 1998. This book tells nine very different stories of leadership, from Civil War battles to the fight against river blindness in Africa. Specific leadership lessons are drawn from each case study. The chapter profiling Gene Krantz, mission control leader for Apollo 13, was a new and compelling take on a familiar story.
A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong. Crown, New York, 2018. In 2008, a young woman in Washington State was raped by a stranger in her home. She reported the assault, but through a combination of factors was not believed, and ultimately was charged with the crime of false reporting. In 2011, detectives in Colorado began investigating what became a series of rapes, resulting in the arrest of a dangerous sexual predator who had also attacked women years earlier in Washington. What went wrong and then right with two different investigations is the heart of this book, which reads like a thriller and is the ultimate case study in the power of cooperation, trust, and collaboration across jurisdictional and organizational boundaries.
The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Egan. Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt 2009. In August 1910, a fire storm of over 3 million acres engulfed areas of Idaho, Montana, and Washington. This book chronicles the events of that summer as well as the history leading up to the Big Burn. This fire event changed the way we think about and react to wildfire, for better and for worse, and has much to say about leadership, planning, and the value of personal integrity.
It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff. Warner Books, 2002. Captain Abrashoff's methods for transforming one of the worst ships in the Navy to one of the best are simple, but no less important because of that. Trust people and empower them to make decisions. Get to know the people who work for you. Be accessible. Take calculated risks. Create an underlying sense of purpose. Give credit where credit is due. Advocate for those who look to you for leadership.
Non-Adversarial Communication: Speaking and Listening from the Heart by Arlene Brownell with Thomas Bache-Wiig. Velvet Spring Press, 2007. This book provides a clear and widely applicable approach to difficult communication, including many practical exercises.
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan & Al Switzer. McGraw-Hill, 2002. This clear, insightful book offers many good suggestions and strategies for successfully managing our most difficult conversations.
The Eight Essential Steps to Conflict Resolution by Dudley Weeks (Putnam, 1992) is a clearly written, practical guide to conflict resolution strategies at work, at home and in the community.
Conflict Resolution: Theory, Research, and Practice by James A. Schellenberg. State University of New York Press, 1996. This book is a fascinating combination of theory, some of it quite obscure, and the most practical case studies in conflict management. In addition, the history of conflict studies is well documented. Although academic in its purpose, the book is quite readable.
Workplace Wars and How to End Them: Turning Personal Conflict into Productive Teamwork by Kenneth Kaye. Amacom, 1994. This clearly written, focused book outlines a five step plan for improving workplace relationships. The approach is pragmatic and well illustrated with examples and graphics. The importance of creating an organizational Conflict Resolving System is a central principle of this author's message.
The Harvard Business Review on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Collected papers, Harvard Business School Press, 2000. This book, part of a series for business leaders, collects previously published academic papers on the topics of negotiation and conflict resolution. Many of these papers are older, but their lessons are timeless. The first paper, "Management of Differences" is as applicable today as it was when first published in the 1960s.
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt. Pantheon Books, New York, 2012. This book takes a fresh approach to how individuals form and sustain beliefs that inform their actions and moral codes. The author documents how strategic reasoning usually supports intuitions, rather than the other way around. There is also practical guidance for bringing out the best in groups in their interaction, despite their differences.
Consensus Through Conversation: How to Achieve High-Commitment Decisions by Larry Dressler. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2006. This small book is a clear, concise guide to the process of consensus decision making. The bibliography and resources are particularly useful.
Mediating Dangerously: The Frontiers of Conflict Resolution by Kenneth Cloke (Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2001). This book gets away from more formulaic models of mediation and demands that those who resolve conflict look at themselves as well as the external situation. A fresh and challenging approach to the topic.
From Conflict to Cooperation: How to Mediate a Dispute by Beverly Potter. Ronin Publishing, 1996. This is a clear, practical guidebook for mediating common interpersonal disputes both in the workplace and at home. The book offers lots of examples which illustrate useful techniques for conflict resolution. The tips relating to logistics of difficult meetings are particularly valuable.
Working Relationships: The Simple Truth About Getting Along With Friends and Foes at Work by Bob Wall. Davies-Black Publishing, 1999. If you can get past the Wal-Mart style happy-face illustrations in this book, it has some basic but valuable information about interpersonal relations at work.
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury. Penguin Books, 1991. THE essential reference on the principles of interest-based negotiation. Also by the same authors: Getting Past No and recently published Difficult Conversations.
The Mediator's Handbook by Jennifer E. Beer and Eileen Stief. New Society Publishers, 1997. A clear and practical guide to the mediation process, with lots of examples.
Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Shelia Heen. Penguin Books, 1999. This simple, straightforward book has much to offer those who dread the difficult conversations in their personal and work lives. The format is clear and the book offers many practical examples of the model it presents.
The Mediation Process: Practical Strategies for Resolving Conflict by Christopher W. Moore. Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1996. A thorough, textbook approach to the mediation process.
The Tao of Negotiation: How You Can Prevent, Resolve, and Transcend Conflict in Work and Everyday Life by Joel Edelman and Mary Beth Crain. HarperCollins Publishers, 1993. This book covers a wide range of conflict resolution issues and strategies in a readable format. top
Judgment Days: Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr. And the Laws that Changed America by Nick Kotz. Houghton-Mifflin 2005. This fascinating book describes the often complex and contradictory circumstances that led to the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the 1968 Civil Rights Act, which guaranteed equal housing protections. This is impressive and important research presented in a highly readable format
I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches that Changed the World by Martin Luther King Jr. HarperSanFrancisco 1992. It has been over 40 years since the death of Martin Luther King, yet his words are just as eloquent and pertinent today as they were then. This book includes all of Dr. King's major speeches and a number of lesser known presentations and essays, as well as the entire text of Letter From a Birmingham Jail.
The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2017. Most people are aware of the lynching of 14 year old Emmett Till in Mississippi in 1955. Two of the killers were arrested and quickly acquitted at trial, but the murder went on to become a catalytic moment for the modern civil rights movement. This book reconsiders the events and aftermath of Emmett Till’s death, told in unflinching, eloquent, and insightful prose. The book is important in the present day, because as author Milan Kundera wrote, “The struggle of humanity against power is always the struggle of memory against forgetting."
A Girl Stands at the Door: The Generation of Young Women who Desegregated America’s Schools by Rachel Devlin. Basic Books, New York, 2018. When America’s public schools began desegregating on a national scale back in the 1940s, many people did not notice that most of the students taking on the burden of being “firsts” were girls. This book narrates that journey based on original interviews and research and provides unique insight into not only what it meant to be part of the civil rights struggle for desegregation, but also what it meant to be a child and a girl in that role. This story has not been told before—as one of the key women said when the author contacted her for an interview in 2008: What took you so long?
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Spiegel and Grau, 2015. This meditation on race, manhood, and American culture is written in the form of a letter from the author to his teenage son. Don’t be fooled by the short length of this book– the content demands close attention. This book, which Toni Morrison called “required reading,” recently won the National Book Award.
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein. Liveright Publishing, 2017. Many people believe that post-Civil War racial segregation just happened in America, an accident of history. This book directly refutes what it calls the “myth of de facto segregation” through deep research and insight into how 20th Century housing policy developed at federal, state and local levels and its effect on residential segregation, education inequities in minority communities, and disparate wealth among different racial groups. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to better understand not only what our current situation is but how it came to be.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. Spiegel & Grau, New York 2014. As a young Harvard educated African-American lawyer, the author took a job with the Southern Prisoners Defense Committee based in Atlanta, an organization focused on justice for wrongly convicted prisoners on death row. Later he founded the Equal Justice Initiative (eji.org) in Montgomery, Alabama where he continues to fight for justice for those otherwise lost within the criminal justice system. His story and the stories of those he has helped in the past thirty years are inspiring in their commitment and perseverance against considerable odds.
Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild. The New Press, 2016. In an effort to bridge what she calls the “empathy wall,” the author, a self-labeled liberal academic from Berkeley, California, went to live in and around Lake Charles, Louisiana with people who were avid Tea Party supporters. This book is the result of months of conversation, dozens of interviews, observation, and informal participation in people’s lives. This book is extremely readable and important for these conflicted times in which we live.
White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America by Joan C. Williams. Harvard Business Review Press, Boston, 2017. This short book is an expanded version of an essay written in the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump’s presidential victory in 2016. The book contains both salient facts about class division in the United States, and useful insights into how those conflicts might be mitigated for the benefit of everyone.
Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity by James C. Cobb. Oxford University Press, 2005. William Faulkner once said that it is impossible to understand America without first understanding Mississippi. This book is a key resource in that quest. Even more relevant today than when it was published 12 years ago, this well-written book combines rigorous research with tremendous insight. It will change anyone who reads it.
iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood by Jean M. Twenge. Atria Books, New York, 2017. How are the youngest generation of workers—those born after 1995—different from those who came before them? This book is one of the most thoroughly researched studies on so-called iGen, why they may be unprepared for independence and work life, but also how, with support, they might be one of the hardest-working groups to come along in quite a while. Without a doubt, this new generation will require different leadership approaches to reach their greatest potential.
Women and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965 edited by Davis W. Houck and David E. Dixon. University Press of Mississippi, 2009. Everyone has heard of Rosa Parks. But ask people to name three other important women in the civil rights movement and they will hesitate. Women were key players from the beginning of the struggle for equal rights in the United States, but few of them have had the recognition they deserve. This book not only profiles nearly 40 women but also includes their voices as captured in speeches and public presentations. Many of those speeches are transcribed in this book for the first time.
The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution that Transformed the South by Bruce Levine. Random House 2013. This book tells the story of the Civil War through the lens of slavery. The author's premise is that slavery and all its implications were the primary forces that led to and sustained the Civil War. This is a fascinating and well researched addition to Civil War history and the effects of that history that live on today. The author does a great job blending primary sources into a seamless narrative.
Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon. Doubleday 2008. Americans are taught that slavery ended with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865. The fact is that thousands of African-American men and women in the Deep South remained in brutal conditions of involuntary servitude from 1870-1940 in farms, factories, timber camps, and mines. Some of these victims of neo-slavery were sold as a result of a corrupt system of pseudo-justice which arrested black men on trumped up charges and then sold them off to those who paid their “fines” for them. Others were kidnaped outright. Many died in horrific conditions that are hard to imagine. The author does a fine job describing a very dark period of our collective history. Every American should know this history, and the final chapter of this book is particularly important as the author talks about the importance of accountability for the crimes committed during this period.
Dallas 1963 by Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis. Twelve Press, 2013. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Fascinating and terrifying. You won’t be able to put it down.
Speak Now Against the Day: The Generation Before the Civil Rights Movement in the South by John Egerton. Alfred A. Knopf, 1994. Many people think of the modern civil rights movement starting in 1955 with the Montgomery bus boycott. Yet much was happening in the South and elsewhere that led up to that event. This exhaustively researched and personally insightful book tells the story of social change and resistance in the South from 1932-1954. Fascinating and a bit overwhelming at times, the book literally features a cast of thousands.
Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King. In 1949, four young black men were falsely arrested for the alleged rape of a white woman in central Florida. Part crime thriller, part courtroom drama, and part horror story, this book recounts the case of the Groveland Boys, which ultimately brought Thurgood Marshall into one of his last criminal cases as a defense attorney. The book is as compelling as it is sickening in its intensely documented account of injustice and racism in the very near past.
The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson. Dover Publications 1995. Originally published anonymously in 1912, this remarkable (and brief, only 100 pages) book tells the story of a fictional Black man at the turn of the century who is light-skinned enough to pass for white. In his life, this man travels back and forth between the North and South, Europe and the United States, and between the races. The book includes many insights about race, identity and inclusion.
Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line by Martha A. Sandweiss. Penguin Press 2009. Clarence King was raised in white privilege and went on to become one of the most notable explorers and surveyors of the American West in the 19th century, as well as the first head of the U.S. Geological Survey. What almost no one knew about him was that for the last 13 years of his life, he lived a double life as a black man married to a woman who had been born a slave, and with whom he had five children. This book tells the bizarre and fascinating personal story of Clarence King and his multiple lives. It also uses this story as a frame to tell the bigger story of what it meant to be black, white, and somewhere in between at a critical point in American history.
The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates. In The Atlantic, June 2014 pp. 54-71. The idea of paying reparations to African-Americans for centuries of enslavement and systemic discrimination has always been controversial. This lengthy article provides a thoughtful and well-researched overview of institutional racism in the United States and its lasting effects on both individuals and society.
Reconstruction After the Civil War by John Hope Franklin. University of Chicago Press, 1961. Reconstruction, the period of time after the US Civil War, is a critical and critically misunderstood period of this nation’s history. Many of the decisions made then still have repercussions today. This book, written before the modern civil rights movement, is one of the clearest and most balanced accounts of that period I have read, and I recommend it to anyone interested in how our racial, economic, and social history from that time is alive today.
On the Line: Women Firefighters Tell Their Stories by Linda Frances Willing. JTD Press, 2011. This is the first book to profile women firefighters from across North America as they tell their best fire department stories and talk about what it means to be a woman on the job. The book features profiles and interviews with over 35 women, some with over 30 years experience and some with less than two. The stories they tell are inspiring, realistic, and often funny, and clearly demonstrate women's commitment to the job of firefighting. NOW AVAILABLE from Amazon.com and other online vendors as well as through www.rwtraining.com.
Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and Gay Liberation by Robert W. Fieseler. W.W. Norton, New York, 2018. Any firefighter can tell you about fires at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, the Cocoanut Grove, or more recently, the Ghost Ship. But many would draw a blank when asked about the Up Stairs Lounge fire, which claimed 32 lives in New Orleans in 1973. A big reason for this lack of attention, then and now, was the fact that this arson fire took place in a gay bar at a time when it was a crime in some places to even be associated with a gay person and most newspapers were forbidden from using the word “homosexual” in their copy. This book compellingly tells the story of this tragic fire and how the event served as a catalyst for the fight for gay rights and recognition that followed in subsequent years.
Because of Sex: One Law, Ten Cases, and Fifty Years that Changed American Women’s Lives at Work by Gillian Thomas. St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2016. Authors who write in detail about legal case law rarely combine that focus with the ability to sustain a compelling narrative. This book is very much the exception to that rule. Using ten landmark cases resulting from the 1964 Civil Rights Act, this book traces the history of women’s rights in the workplace and the challenges that remain ahead. It is full of insight, odd detail, and ultimately puts a human face on case law that has affected every employer and working woman in the United States.
Freedom's Daughters: The Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement from 1830 to 1970 by Lynne Olson. Scribner, 2001. When most people think of leaders from the Civil Rights Movement, they think of men: Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, and Andrew Young among others. Yet many of the key organizers and strategists during that period were women who remain largely unknown even today. This book rectifies that oversight with fascinating and extremely well written stories of the women who were leaders in the fight against racism and injustice in this country. This book is must reading for anyone interested in the modern Civil Right Movement in the United States.
Mississippi: The Closed Society by James W. Silver. Harcourt, Brace & World, 1964. James Silver was a professor of history at the University of Mississippi when the school was forced to admit its first black student in 1962. Professor Silver was one of only a few who supported that student, James Meredith, and he experienced harassment and threats as a result. This book, written in the context of those events, is a harrowing and enlightening evaluation of the history of racism in the Deep South. Read 50 years later, it is also commentary on how much things can change when commitment to real change is unwavering.
But for Birmingham by Glenn T. Eskew. University of North Carolina Press, 1997. This book chronicles the civil rights struggle in Birmingham, Alabama that culminated in 1963 when protesters were attacked by dogs, assaulted with fire hoses, and when four young girls were killed in a church bombing. This book is exhaustively researched and includes many details not widely known. The book also promotes a specific thesis of how the "ambiguous resolution" of Birmingham was a critical turning point in the modern civil rights movement.
My Soul is Rested: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement in the Deep South by Howell Raines. Viking-Penguin, 1977, 1983. This book captures the voices of those who made history during the 1960s in the Deep South, for better and worse. The author, who grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, went on to become a nationally known journalist and publisher. In this superb oral history, a remarkable variety of people speak of their experiences, including activists, politicians, police officers, KKK members, Freedom Riders, and ordinary citizens swept up in the movement that changed this nation and the world.
The Thunder of Angels: The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the People who Broke the Back of Jim Crow by Donnie Williams with Wayne Greenhaw. Lawrence Hill Books, 2006. Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” This book details one example of the truth of this statement. In 1955, following the arrest of Rosa Parks, black citizens of Montgomery, Alabama organized a successful boycott of the bus system that ultimately led to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that undercut the constitutionality of segregation laws in general. This event was the beginning of Martin Luther King Jr as a leader of the modern civil rights movement, but the book highlights the contributions of many other lesser known and equally important figures in the story.
Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders by Eric Etheridge. Atlas, 2008. A picture really is worth a thousand words. This beautiful and moving book starts with the police mug shots of Freedom Riders and follows up with portraits taken in 2006. The concise text is based on interviews with the surviving participants in the movement 50 years ago and tells the story of idealism, commitment, courage, and unwavering faith that individuals can make a real difference.
Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution by Diane McWhorter. Simon & Schuster, 2002. Many of the most indelible images of the civil rights movement came from Birmingham, Alabama in 1963: firehoses trained on protesters, children facing down police dogs, the bodies of four girls being carried from a bombed out church. This exhaustively researched book presents details of that year and the racial history of Birmingham on both a global and very local scale that are sure to inform even the most knowledgable person regarding that period of history. In particular, the role of Fred Shuttlesworth is well documented.
Freedom Summer: The Savage Season that Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy by Bruce Watson. Viking Press, 2010. In the summer of 1964, volunteers from around the United States went to Mississippi to participate in a project that would register African-American voters and establish "freedom schools" for poor black children. Before the end of the summer, three of those volunteers had been murdered by local law enforcement officers, and the history of Mississippi and of the United States had been forever changed. This new accounting of that fateful summer is told with extraordinary insight and clarity, and is recommended reading for any student of the Civil Rights movement.
Confederacy of Silence: A True Tale of the New Old South by Richard Rubin. Atria Books, 2002. When Richard Rubin was 21, he took a job for a year as a sports reporter for a small newspaper in Greenwood, Mississippi. As a native New Yorker and a Jew, he was most definitely a fish out of water. Seven years later, he returned to Greenwood to cover a murder trial. This book is full of insight and self-reflection on issues of race and culture, and the outcome will surprise you.
Cane River by Lalita Tademy. Warner Books, 2001.The author of this novel, the former vice-president of Sun Microsystems, left her corporate position to trace her family's history, starting with ancestors who were held in slavery in 1830s Louisiana. Although this is technically a novel (scenes and dialogue are created), the essence of the book is based in fact, and historical documents and photographs are included. The book is a compelling first-person account of race, culture, and the history of the United States.
The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies by Scott E. Page. Princeton University Press, 2007. This book takes a common theory-- that diversity can lead to better decision making in groups-- and sets out to prove it. Although written for the general reader, this book relies heavily on mathematical and statistical models that will be challenging at times for those without a strong background in these areas. Still, the effort this book requires is worth it as it provides a unique and scientific approach to a topic that is too often driven by emotional reaction.
Building Cultural Intelligence: Nine Megaskills by Richard D. Bucher. Pearson-Prentice Hall, 2008. This book deals with contemporary cultural challenges in a style that is part textbook and part workbook. The chapters are clearly written and include many self-assessment tools, practical strategies, and current citations.
Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach. W.W. Norton & Company, 2010. It's summer, so here is a book you can take to the beach and still learn something. This book goes into graphic and occasionally hilarious detail about the aspects of space travel we all wonder about, but usually never hear about. Among interesting facts and historical notes are some good lessons about teamwork, planning, and how to work well with others in very close quarters.
Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" U.S. Department of Defense, November 30, 2010. You've heard from the newscasters, the columnists, and the pundits-- now read for yourself what the report really has to say. In over 200 pages, this report clearly describes the potential benefits and challenges associated with the open inclusion of gays and lesbians in the armed forces. The research is extensive, the writing is good, and the examples are clear and on point. This report is freely available online.
From the Outside In: Seven Strategies for Success When You're Not a Member of the Dominant Group in the Workplace by Renee Blank and Sandra Slipp Ph.D. Amacom Publishers, 2000. How can you achieve success and acceptance at work when you're the "only one?" This book offers some practical advice for those who may be perceived as being different in the workplace.
The Equal Opportunities Handbook: How to deal with everyday issues of unfairness By Phil Clements and Tony Spinks. 4th edition. Kogan Page Publishing, London 2006. Written for a British audience, some of the laws and language will not be applicable to the US audience, but the basic premises are sound. The book includes some interesting references to research related to discrimination and prejudice extending far beyond the workplace.
Investigating Sexual Harassment in Law Enforcement and Nontraditional Fields for Women by Penny E. Harrington and Kimberly A. Lonsway. Prentice Hall Publishers, 2006. This clear and comprehensive book addresses the problem of sexual harassment investigations in the context of law enforcement and other fields of work where women are a distinct minority. One of the authors is a former police chief and director of the National Center for Women and Policing.
Sexual Harassment in America: A Documentary History by Laura W. Stein. Greenwood Press, 1999. This edited collection of original documents related to sexual harassment includes articles, court decisions, government documents, and more. A very useful and well organized reference.
My Soul Looks Back in Wonder: Voices of the Civil Rights Experience by Juan Williams. AARP Sterling Publishing, 2004. This inspiring book recounts dozens of stories of individuals' involvement with the civil rights movement in this country, both historically and currently. Contributors include the famous as well as many little known people who made their mark.
What to Do When You Don't Want to Call the Cops: A Non-Adversarial Approach to Sexual Harassment by Joan Taylor Kennedy. New York University Press, 1999. It's not often that a book on sexual harassment really says something new. This book, written by a self-described libertarian feminist, is provocative, insightful, controversial, and ultimately, a worthy voice in the ongoing discussion of sexual harassment.
When Generations Collide: Who they are. Why they clash. How to solve the generational puzzle at work. By Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman. HarperBusiness, 2002. The chapters on feedback and training were particularly informative.
Motivating the “What’s In it for Me?” Workforce by Cam Marston. John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken NJ 2007. Generational diversity at work is a huge issue these days. This book addresses the topic with a conversational style, some good insights, and revealing interviews with representatives from each workplace generation.
Generations at Work: Managing the Clash of Veterans, Boomers, Xers, and Nexters in Your Workplace by Ron Zemke, Claire Raines and Bob Filipczak. Amacom, 2000. This book outlines differences among the four generations currently active in the workplace, and provides insight for improving inter-generational harmony.
Honoring Boundaries: Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace by Joyce Kaser, Human Resource Development Press, 1995. This book is outdated regarding recent legal decisions affecting harassment, but its pragmatic and clear approach to preventing workplace harassment is still useful to managers and leaders.
In the aftermath of last September 11th, little attention was given to the contributions of women emergency workers at the World Trade Center or the Pentagon. A new book, Women at Ground Zero by Susan Hagen and Mary Carouba (Alpha Publishers, 2002) corrects this omission by collecting the stories of a diverse group of women who served New York City on that day.
Firefighters A to Z by Chris Demarest (Scholastic Press) is a beautifully illustrated, informative book that depicts a fully inclusive fire service by gender and race. This book, most appropriate for children ages 3-6, also helps preschoolers learn their ABC's as they see the firefighters' day unfold.
Recruiting and Retaining Women: A Self-Assessment Guide for Law Enforcement. Published by the National Center for Women in Policing. This detailed guidebook provides clear and specific guidelines for the successful recruitment, hiring, and retention of women in law enforcement agencies. End of chapter checklists are particularly helpful. This book is currently in its first printing; for more information on how to obtain a copy, call 323-651-2532
A National Report Card on Women in Firefighting by Denise M. Hulett, Marc Benedick Jr, Sheila Y. Thomas and Francine Moccio. April 2008. This is one of the most comprehensive recent studies of the status of women in firefighting, detailing the specific obstacles women face and what needs to happen to increase the numbers of women in the profession. Go to www.i-women.org to download the document.
Understanding and Preventing Sexual Harassment: The Complete Guide by Peter Rutter, M.D. Bantam Books, 1996. The author of this book, a clinical psychiatrist, takes a fresh and nuanced approach to workplace sexual harassment that is based in psychology more than law. The book is a bit dated in its use of case examples, but the underlying insights are sound and may be particularly applicable to low level or "gray area" cases of harassment.
Mastering Diversity: Managing for Success Under ADA and Other Anti-discrimination Laws by James Walsh. Merritt Publishing. This straight-talking and often provocative book is full of useful information and detailed case histories covering the entire spectrum of discrimination and harassment law. Included in the extensive appendices are specific guidelines for managing diversity and sample forms for reporting incidents related to harassment or discrimination.
Cultural Diversity in Organizations: Theory, Research and Practice by Taylor Cox Jr. Berret-Kohler Publishers, 1994. Somewhat academic in its approach, but well written and with many eye-opening observations.
Real Heat: Gender and Race in the Urban Fire Service by Carol Chetkovich. Rutgers University Press, 1997. An in-depth study of the cultural and working conditions on one urban fire department. Insightful and honest in its approach.
You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation by Deborah Tannen. Ballantine Books, 1990. An essential reference on the topic of gender differences in communication. Also by the same author: That's Not What I Meant and Talking From 9 to 5.
Sexual Harassment on the Job by William Petrocelli and Barbara Kate Repa. Nolo Press. Check with the publisher (www.nolo.com) for the latest update. Excellent, practical reference on sexual harassment law and its application.
Many Faces, One Purpose and Many Women Strong. These two books, published by the United States Fire Administration, provide the answers to most questions about issues of gender integration in the fire service. Many Faces, One Purpose is a guidebook for fire managers who want to succeed in hiring and retaining good women as firefighters. Many Women Strong is a book specifically focused on the questions and issues of women considering fire service careers. Both books include extensive, clear information on subjects ranging from hiring and promotion to sexual harassment to child care to facilities to grooming standards. Much of the information is not gender specific, and will be of interest to leaders who want to maintain the highest quality workforce overall. Both books are available free from the USFA and can be ordered on-line at www.usfa.fema.gov (click on publications).
All That We Can Be: Black Leadership and Racial Integration the Army Way by Charles C. Moskos and John Sibley Butler. BasicBooks 1996. The Army is the most integrated large organization in America, and it has a vastly higher percentage of African-Americans in positions of leadership compared to any major corporation. This book examines how the Army went from being strictly segregated to being widely and successfully integrated, in the space of 50 years. This well-researched and highly readable account of significant organizational change has something to say to everyone interested in the challenges posed by racial diversity. top
www.legalmomentum.org is a website focused on legal issues that affect women at work. This site has a dedicated area for issues affecting women firefighters
www.bullybusters.org provides information and articles related to workplace bullying in the United States and Canada. This site is sponsored by the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute, based in Bellingham, WA.
FireRescue1 is an online magazine with many resources for fire professionals including news, columns, and product reviews. Starting in 2008, Linda Willing has written a regular column on team development and company officer issues called Leading the Team.
Fireground Commentary by Chief Rob Wylie is a regular short video feature on FireRescue1 online. This month's comments on how expectations of firefighters have changed, and what that means for professionalism in the service, are worth watching.
www.businessknowhow.com is a site with a wealth of information in the areas of human resources, leadership, and marketing. The site includes articles and excerpts from recently published books. If you can see beyond the proliferation of advertisements, this site has much to offer.
Coursera is one of a number of online resources that offer MOOCs- Massive Open Online Classes. These are courses developed by university professors that are offered for the most part entirely free to the public. Topics cover a wide range from hard sciences and math to leadership to history to humanities. Terms are date-specific and participants must register for a specific class they are attending, but the majority of classes do not limit enrollment.
Coursera offers a wide variety of educational opportunities from worldwide universities, free for the taking. I recently took the course “From Freedom Rides to Ferguson: Narratives of Nonviolence in the American Civil Rights Movement.” This five week course, offered by Emory University, is a fascinating overview of the modern civil rights movement, as told through interviews with some its key players, including Bernard LaFayette, Andrew Young, and Connie Curry.
Business and Legal Reports www.blr.com is a website that is mostly about selling products to assist in human resources management. But scroll down to the bottom of the home page and find the box for free subscriptions to several e-zines that discuss personnel management, safety and other topics. The HR Daily Advisor is particularly valuable.
www.law.cornell.edu is the website for the Cornell University Law School. The site is not particularly easy to navigate, but does contain some very useful information that may be difficult to find elsewhere.
www.employmentlawalliance.com provides free access to articles, news clips, survey results and other information related to workplace diversity and other legal issues. Click on "Newsroom" from the home page.
www.laborproject.org is the address for the Labor Project for Working Families, a national nonprofit advocacy and policy organization which provides resources and education for unions and union members on issues related to work and family. The site includes resources and links on child care, elder care, family leave, and developing contract language to improve work/family relationships.
www.equalrights.org is the website for Equal Rights Advocates, an organization that supports equal rights and economic opportunities for women and girls. This site contains a lot of interesting information and useful links.
www.ethics.org is the website for the nonprofit Ethics Resource Center. The site offers a free newsletter, articles, links, reports on research and other resources related to ethics in the workplace and the community.
www.ted.com is a site that offers hundreds of short video lectures by everyone from professors to popular writers to actors and entertainers. Usually running from 10-20 minutes in length, the videos provide provocative and insightful ideas related to business, science, the arts, and just life and work in general. This is a great resource if you need a quick dose of inspiration.
www.hrnext.com offers a wealth of human resources tools and references, including sample policies, articles, and tips. Unfortunately, most of the material at the site is available to members only, for a substantial fee. Still, there are useful items free for the taking.
http://writ.news.findlaw.com/grossman/ is the web address for the column archives of Joanna Grossman, law professor at Hofstra University and specialist on issues related to workplace harassment and discrimination. Ms. Grossman writes about specific current case law and its application to the workplace in a clear and concise manner, and many of the articles have particular relevance to the emergency services.
www.ewowfacts.com is a website sponsored by the Business Women's Network that includes hundreds of pages of information, links and examples related to general diversity topics, and topics related to women in particular.
www.shrm.org/diversity is a section of the website for the Society for Human Resource Management that is devoted to issues of workplace diversity. Although some of the material on the site is available to society members only, there is still a vast amount of information available to anyone, including articles, links, and presentation materials.
www.nyc.gov/html/fdny/html/home2.html In the aftermath of September 11th, the New York City Fire Department commissioned an independent investigation that would lead to recommendations on improving safety and operations at major incidents. The McKinsey report, which is published on the FDNY website, addresses issues of communication, planning, and family support, among other topics.
www.woodrickinstitute.org is the website for the Woodrick Institute for the Study of Racism and Diversity, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This organization sponsors a number of different types of training and also publishes an online fee-for-subscription newsletter called Do Diversity Right.
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (www.fmcs.gov) is a government agency that assists organizations nationwide with problems requiring mediation and related services. The FMCS has offices across the country and its services are low cost or in some cases, free. They also have some publications available.
www.cfdonline.org/diversity.htm The Charlottesville, VA Fire Department has put together an impressive list of links to diversity-related sites, many of them fire department focused.
www.nlj.com/special/courts.shtml Presented by the National Law Journal, this resource is a great one-stop resource for those seeking direct access to legal cases at all levels (state, federal and circuit). Constructed like an index, this site will give you access to virtually any legal decision that has been made in the United States.
The website for the American Institute for Managing Diversity www.aimd.org offers good general information about workplace diversity, as well as an excellent bibliography and links to other resources.
www.wls-law.com/newsletters is the site of a monthly newsletter published by a private law firm specializing in labor and employment law. The newsletters provide clear, brief summaries of recent cases in this area.
England has been a leader in addressing and preventing generalized workplace harassment, or bullying, that may not be related to protected class status. The website www.workplacebullying.co.uk/index.html is an excellent resource on this subject.
www.dol.gov is the home page for the Department of Labor website. Not the most user-friendly site, this site is nonetheless full of important information. Links take you directly to the pertinent laws. Suggestion: Bookmark the pages you use, and skip the homepage entry.
http://library.uncg.edu/depts/docs/us/harass.html Looking for information about sexual harassment? The University of North Carolina, Greensboro has put together this extensive reference list and links page. The web page says it "contains links to information on sexual harassment from a great variety of sources" and the site more than fulfills this claim. Links will take you to complete government publications and other source material on the subject that you can print and use at your convenience.
www.sexharassment.net is a highly informative site on the subject of sexual harassment in the workplace. The format is logical, if dense, and the site includes an excellent glossary of legal terms associated with discrimination and harassment.
www.legalengine.com is a huge, informative site with much more than just information about the law. This site has terrific links to current news stories, and also offers historical census data, links to state and local governments, and much, much more.
www.mediate.com is a website full of valuable information about mediation and alternative dispute resolution. The site includes dozens of articles, discussions groups, and information about all aspects of mediation.
www.census.gov: For the latest national census results, and much more. This site has detailed information from the census as well as related articles and press releases, all clearly indexed and cataloged.
www.law.com: This well-designed website gives daily updates on current legal issues as well as re-printing topical law journal articles. The site is user-friendly and doesn't try to include too much. Additional articles and services, including interactive on-line seminars, are available for a fee, but most of the material is free for the taking.
www.findlaw.com This excellent website offers free access to many legal resources, including transcripts of court decisions at several levels. The home page has recently been simplified, somewhat to its detriment in terms of scope of information offered, but if you click on "For Legal Professionals" you will find links to just about anything you might need.
www.managementconsultingnews.com is a website mainly aimed at professional consultants but there is information here of value to anyone interested in successful leadership and change management. Click on the interviews tab from the home page to get a taste of current ideas from dozens of the best known names in leadership theory.
Race Cards is a project started last year by NPR Talk of the Nation reporter Michele Norris. As part of a book tour for her memoir about her own complex racial heritage, Ms. Norris asked people to fill out postcards crystalizing their feelings about race into only six words. The response to this project has been far beyond any expectations, and contributions continue to pour in via email and Twitter. The results are sure to stimulate some insightful and challenging conversations.
The Great Courses is a company that creates video and audio college level lectures series on topics ranging from business, health, science, literature, art, music, and philosophy. Instructors are top-ranked university professors and courses range from 6-38 hours in length. I just finished listening to The Art of Critical Decision Making, and found it to be an excellent review of decision making concepts and applications. Courses tend to be a bit pricey, but there are always sales going on.
www.adr.org: This is the website for the American Arbitration Association (AAA) , a 75 year old national nonprofit organization specializing in alternative dispute resolution (arbitration, mediation, and other forms of out-of-court settlements.) This site offers selected articles from AAA publications (e.g. "Selecting the Right Mediator"), procedural models and guidelines (check out their model for resolving sexual harassment claims), and information about the organization's resources and services. This is an organization and site that is mostly written by lawyers, but don't be put off by the legalese. There's a lot of good information here.
www.eeoc.gov: This is the website for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and really should be bookmarked on every fire manager's Internet list. This site features recent press releases, enforcement guidelines for discrimination and harassment law, information about mediation and EEOC programs, and very practical and specific information in a Q&A format about employer liability for discrimination and harassment.
The United States Military has just published its 2012 report on sexual assault and harassment within the three military academies. This 40+ page report talks about types of sexual misconduct experienced, challenges with the two-tier reporting system in place, programs to prevent and address sexual assault, and evaluation of those programs. Very detailed appendices are included.
www.iafc.org: The home page for the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
www.i-women.org: The homepage for the International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services
www.iaff.org: The home page for the International Association of Firefighters, the largest labor union of firefighters in the United States.
www.iabpff.org is the website for the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters. The site includes many resources and links, including photos of past events, information about chapters of the organization, and historical context. The IABPFF was formed in 1970 to support black and minority firefighters and currently has over 5000 members.
Makers: Women Who Shape Amercia is a three hour program about the history of the modern women's movement in the United States from the 1950s to the present. Many prominent women's rights advocates are featured as well as voices of opposition. The show highlights how much things have changed in the past 60 years, but also how easily they can change back. The entire program is available at www.pbs.org.
Taking the Heat available through PBS. This one hour documentary tells the story of the first women firefighters on the New York City Fire Department.
Freedom Riders American Experience, PBS Television, 2011. This two hour documentary tells the story of the historic efforts in 1961 to desegregate public transportation in the South. In 1961, a small racially mixed group began a journey from Washington DC to New Orleans, only to be stopped by extreme violence in Alabama. Hundreds of volunteer Freedom Riders from around the country flooded in to take up the cause, resulting in an event that solidified the Civil Rights Movement at that time. The bravery of individuals in the face of hatred and violence is truly inspiring.
Selma tells the story of the Alabama march in 1965 that directly led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, and also was the culmination of ten years of nonviolent action for civil rights in the South. This is an important story not just because of its significance historically, but also because when asked what was the relevance of the title, a large number of young people thought the movie was named for a character played by Oprah Winfrey in the film. We must remember history or be doomed to repeat it.
All the Way Original HBO movie premiered May 21, 2016 starring Bryan Cranston as Lyndon Baines Johnson. This film is based on the Tony award-winning Broadway play of the same name. The film covers the period of time from when LBJ became president after John F. Kennedy's assassination until Johnson's reelection in 1964. The heart of the film is President Johnson's battle to get the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, just months before his reelection bid. Bryan Cranston is extraordinary in this role.
My Lai Public Broadcasting System, American Experience Series, 2010. This 90 minute documentary examines the causes and aftermath of the actions of American soldiers at My Lai in 1968 during the Vietnam War. The program was based on the book Four Hours in My Lai and includes discussion of leadership issues that contributed to the massacre as well as new footage of interviews with survivors and soldiers present there that day.
Chasing Shackleton is a three part series currently being shown on PBS that recreates the almost miraculous open boat voyage and winter alpine crossing that led to the successful rescue of Shackleton and his entire ill-fated crew in 1916. Shackleton's story is a classic case study of good leadership against nearly insurmountable odds. The reenactment done in this film series, which includes some modern equipment, safety nets, and in summer months, only underscores the immensity of Shackleton's accomplishment.
Crash Lion's Gate Films, 2004. This commercial film deals with the consequences of anger, fear, and racism during a 36 hour period in post 9/11 Los Angeles. The ensemble cast features major stars and relative unknowns, but the draw of the film is its unflinching portrayal of real people dealing with real issues, for better and for worse. This is a film that deserves to be seen and talked about.
The holiday season is a great time to revisit favorite old movies. I have loved The Station Agent (SenArt Films, 2003) since I first saw it. This bittersweet film features nuanced, understated acting, and has much to say about being different and the power of friendship. The film stars the wonderful trio of Peter Dinklage, Bobby Cannavale, and Patricia Clarkson but also look for Michelle Williams in one of her first screen roles.
Sex, Power, and the Workplace produced by public television station KCET (Los Angeles). Sixty minutes in length, includes several case histories, including one fire service example. Call 1-800-343-4727 for ordering information. top