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Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  289 ratings  ·  47 reviews
What causes one system to break down and another to rebound? Are we merely subject to the whim of forces beyond our control? Or, in the face of constant disruption, can we build better shock absorbers--for ourselves, our communities, our economies, and for the planet as a whole?

Reporting firsthand from the coral reefs of Palau to the back streets of Palestine, Andrew Zoll...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Free Press (first published April 3rd 2012)
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I was drawn to this book by an NPR review which couldn't stop gushing. Sadly, it certainly didn't live up to the review. Based on writing alone, I'd give this book 2 stars. However, the ideas are interesting and important enough that I boosted it up.

Basically, for a non-fiction book aimed at a popular audience, with a fiction writer credited as co-author to boot, this book is terrible. The ideas are difficult to follow because central concepts are referred to in jargon-y shorthand without adequa...more
Greg Talbot
If the Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell's runaway hit, said anything about the general public's reading habits, it's that social science can sell. Maybe it's just marketing buzz, but "Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back" has been compared to Gladwell's momentus novel, and I think it strikes a similar chord; albeit a very different topic.

The opening is really great. I like how Zolli describes systems adapting; how resilence can create fragility in other areas. Or the cycle of adapting. Or how feed...more
I gave up on this one. I had high hopes for simple explanations & foundations for the idea of resiliency. This was too intense, academic, and grounded in economics/environmental stuff for me to find the info about relationships & community that I was seeking. Maybe I threw in the towel too soon, but this one didn't hook me.
Sharon Tan
Such a disappointing read. Random examples were just thrown in in hope of trying to tie them together with a common theme, but to no avail. Nevertheless, the first pages explaining the concept were still somewhat useful, but that benefit is probably negligible.
Aaron Terrazas
Disappointing read. Anecdotes and popular knowledge woven together in search of an overarching theory, but mostly degenerating into tired truisms.
Ruah Swennerfelt
This is a must read for everyone. Very comprehensive and well written. I couldn't put it down.
This book's fundamental question is: What makes some individuals, groups, organizations, or governments resilient to the ever-changing and frequently disruptive environment we live in on this planet?

The follow-up question: Are there common characteristics of resiliency that we can identify and apply to help us better adapt to the inevitable, persistent changes? The answers seem to be there are common characteristics, but adopting a form or pattern using these characteristics is nearly impossibl...more
Derrick Trimble
When I started this book, I launched into it with a bias. Having read Antifragile by Nassim Taleb. The first couple of chapters of Resilience used similar language, but with different conclusions. As a general term, Taleb defines the difference between antifragile and resilient that "antigragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilience resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better. "

The gap between the two are further widened in that Zoli applies the principles of r...more
audible review:

Katrina. Haiti. BP. Fukushima. The Great Recession. Those are just a few of the catastrophic disruptions the world has endured in recent years. As we try to respond to such crises, key questions arise: What causes one system to break under great stress and another to rebound? How much change can a complex system absorb while still retaining its purpose and function? What characteristics make it adaptive to change?
Through original reporting ranging across disciplines including fina...more
The book should be renamed "Resilience—Why Capitalism Bounces Back."

In the concluding chapter Zolli mentions the concept of "adhocracy" which he takes from futurists Toffler and Mintzberg. The main theme here is "decentralisation" (sic) ie liberal small government mentality. Toffler and Mintzberg's concept was applied to the global capitalist market, with the thought that the financial systems should be self-regulating and not governed by government or external authorities. It is recognised toda...more
At first, this audiobook was a bit of slough to get through but it started to get more interesting once it focused on specific examples. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on the translational leader and the tit for tat strategy. The main lesson I learned from this book is that trust is everything. Without trust in the system or in your leader, an entity/organization/community is doomed to failed when faced with adversity. To be resilient means to be vigil, accepting of change, and willing to c...more
This book needs to be written extremely well. Partly because it's a relatively academic style book, but above all because its subjects are so wide ranging, even disconnected. To tie it all together, enough for the book to be both interesting and useful, would have required a lot of skill. This style of writing would have been good enough for an article on a specific subject that you find interesting, but it is not good enough to pull off the ambitious scope of this book.
I think the ideas in this book are really interesting, and will definitely influence my thinking about systems, organizations and my personal life. The major point the authors are making is that, in order to improve the resilience of a system (the financial system, a coral reef, a city, your own life, the planet) you need to take into account the health of the whole system not just of the pieces. And a system can seem very robust, weathering all kinds of everyday disturbances, and yet ultimately...more
Steven Conners
This is a book contained with facts about
the financial crisis and other events that
the U.S. has bounced back from. It is a
very negative book, and doesn't add to solutions
but emphasizes negativity. I couldn't read the
entire book, since it was too meaningless. Sure, one
can learn from mistakes but that is not where the
author is coming from.

Went back to read if it evolved and it does. It does
provide insight into areas that are un-related to the
financial meltdown. If you're are looking to learn, and...more
Samson Blackwell
Very interesting conceptual idea about resilience–with echoes of Taleb's concept of fragility throughout.

Unfortunately, many of the examples actually serve to muddy the concept–especially those that focus on the individual as a representation–and the language in these sections is almost syrupy in its triumphalism. I would have preferred a more objective and analytical style here–a peeling away of the underlying structures that make up the resilient individual instead of extended laudatory seque...more
Kat Libby
I received this book in a GoodReads giveaway after pining away for it since its release date. I couldn't be happier! Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy expertly examine the variables of resilience on the individual, institutional, and community level, while outlining the potential for global application. As a nonprofit worker in community development and academic success, this book has given me a lot to think about and incorporate in my work.

Very well written and engaging, Resilience is definitel...more
I had a hard time with the beginning of the book, but that might have been because of external distractions and plain old tiredness. Once I got half-way into the first chapter, the book became much more interesting to me and I learned a great many things about a variety of subjects. I guess I thought the book would be more about individual resilience as opposed systemic resilience, but I still enjoyed the book and feel like it is a worthwhile read. One review I read thought that it was a negativ...more
Ko Matsuo
Interesting book. The authors take the concept of resilience and expand it as an explanatory framework around financial, socioeconomic, ecological, and neurological events. The book is not the easiest read, but has interesting examples of "robust yet fragile" systems such as coral reefs and financial systems that we think we can control, but end up decimating by over-stressing a few elements.

A sober reminder that in the pursuit of short term goals and higher efficiency, we don't lost sight of en...more
Katherine Collins
In this book, Zolli (uber-insightful PopTech Curator) and Healy weave together a wide net of research and insights on resilience, punctuated with intriguing examples all along the way. A great resource for those who want to dive into this topic more deeply, including tons of helpful references to others’ ongoing work in the field (both people and organizations).
I enjoyed this exploration of resiliency and why it is so important. Sometimes things have really changed and we can not go to the way it was. It is important that we remain flexible and adjust to the world as it really is and not how we want it to be.

Beyond human's amazing inability to predict the future we also have more interconnected global systems which interact in unpredictable ways. This is why using the latest simulation tools and focusing on flexibility is so important.

Resilience is wel...more
Dave Wilson
While the summary casts this book as showing a paradigm shift in reasons for many economic and physical disaster, it isn't in the classic Thomas Kuhn sense. What it does show more importantly is how mega economic shifts like corn subsidies to create ethanol, can have severe unintended consequences. Well worth the read.
Resilience by Andrew Zolli is a relevant and engaging read. I have found the examples of systems that have bounced back successfully from upheaval and chaos interesting. The interconnectedness of our world is fascinating and the way something that happens in one part of the world can have a major impact on the rest of the world is persented here in an intelligent and thought provoking way. Business and individuals can learn a lot about adaptability and other essential skills for success from rea...more
Kristian Norling
Some good stories in this book. Ok read.
Starts off like a college course (that's good). Has some interesting stories. Nothing really wrong with it. Apparently, I'm just not as interested in the topic as I anticipated. I found it boring and the writing didn't make the story as compelling as some other nonfiction I've listened to. (For example, I picked up Mountains Beyond Mountains as an audio book only because I needed something for my commute. I wasn't interested in reading it, but the story still managed to draw me in.)
Michael Kishelev
I found this book very insightful and inspirational. It challenges the reader to understand the world with all its complexities and gives examples of brave individuals that weren't deterred by the complexity: instead they imagined and persevered with amazing and innovative ideas to lead transformational change.

I feel we need more books and inspiring examples such as those found in Resilience to improve our world and those living around us.
Marjory J
I believe that the volume of thoughts and ideas that a book triggers are a better indicator of its value than what it says directly. This book ranks high on that scale. After reading a copy from the library, I plan to buy my own copy so that I can write all over it!
i grazed in this one, i'll admit, but it just wasn't as profound as i had hoped. i think zolli was trying to be a new malcolm gladwell and it was an uneven effort. that said, there is some food for thought here. i'm just glad i got it from the library and not amazon.
I got a little bored about 3/4 through and started skimming parts. I felt like saying "get on with it" with the stories and examples used to demonstrate resilience, too much detail. It kind of felt like the examples were reaching a little far too.
Peter House
I absolutely loved reading this book. The author explores a variety of different forms of resilience, the contexts within which they are effective, and how one could apply them in their lives and organizations. I recommend this book to anyone.
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Initial review of the book 1 3 Feb 21, 2013 09:54AM  
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I think and work at the intersection of global innovation, social change and resilience.

I’m the Executive Director and Chief Creative Officer of PopTech.

We bring together a community of innovators from many different fields to share ideas and to work on new approaches to some of the world’s toughest problems. We identify and train some of the most amazing people you’ll ever meet, doing things you...more
More about Andrew Zolli...
Resilience: The Science of Why Things Bounce Back

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“The small scale of the groups within such networks helps them remain agile, while the many-to-many ties in the larger network ensure that even if 10 percent or 20 percent of its membership is eliminated, the network as a whole will continue to function. "How many times have we killed the number three in al-Qaeda? In a network, everyone is number three," notes [US Naval Postgraduate School professor of defense analysis Dr. John] Arquilla, dryly.” 1 likes
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