EPC Book Review: July 2019
Collective Conviction: The Story of Disaster Action
Anne Eyre & Pam Dix
This is the story of how a disaster charity came about and has grown through the years, so it might not initially seem like a 'must read' for the resilience community. However, it takes you through the journey of not only Disaster Action but also its founders - and their journey through the incidents which brought them together. It is, in fact, an absolute must read!
The book contains personal extracts from those directly affected by a number of tragic incidents. This allows it to feel more of a story rather than an intellectual study. That might take away from the importance and value that it can bring to a practitioner. However, the first-person accounts which are the core of the book can give practitioners a deeper understanding into the human aspects of emergencies as experienced by those most effected. This isn’t restricted to those who were at the scene, of course, and some of them are hard-hitting accounts.
Collective Conviction goes on to explore inquests, corporate responsibility, law, response and dealing with the media. Chapters deal with the facts and personal insights and describes the differences that Disaster Action has made along the way. The book offers an insight into emergencies from a variety of angles and this gives it an edge which sets it apart. Also, it is accessible as well as very informative and offers value to a wide audience, including the resilience community generally and those with a specialised interest in say, sociology, politics and the law.
A large proportion of the book is taken by appendices which consist of a collection of guidance for those effected by disasters, including advice on what to do if a family member is missing overseas and how to move forward after the devastation of a loss. With this combination of personal stories, factual information and evaluation, Collective Conviction can provide resilience professionals with a wide-ranging view of human aspects in emergency planning, response and recovery.
Overall, Collective Conviction provides a particular view and conception of disaster response and recovery - which we could all benefit from understanding better. It also tells the story of how Disaster Action became the influential charity it is today - and shows how a common bond, even when made by the worst circumstances, can bring people together to make substantial and important changes.
Resilience Knowledge Co-ordinator, Emergency Planning College
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