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Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision-Makers
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Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision-Makers

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  345 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Two noted professors offer easily remembered rules for using history effectively in day-to-day management of governmental and corporate affairs to avoid costly blunders. "An illuminating guide to the use and abuse of history in affairs of state".--Arthur Schlesinger.
Hardcover, 350 pages
Published March 31st 1986 by Free Press
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Nov 20, 2013 Brandy rated it did not like it
Read this book for a grad class.
In my life I have literally thrown a book across the room maybe two or three times. I threw this one across the room. What a couple of infuriatingly condescending pricks. To think that no amount of intelligent thought goes into decision making at the highest level is ridiculous. Yes there were some pretty significant moments where what someone thought was a small decision turned out to be a huge disastrous one... but this book fixes 0% of that. Your solution is to
Frank Theising
Dec 12, 2015 Frank Theising rated it liked it
The authors state up front that this is not a book about history but about the uses of history. The book reviews a number of (mostly) disastrous Presidential decisions (Bay of Pigs, Americanization of Vietnam War, multiple blunders by President Carter) and asks the question “if routine staff work had brought into view historical evidence overlooked or not sought, might ‘that’ not have occurred?” (pg xiii). Before diving into these though the author begins with a look at two successes (JFK’s han ...more
Sep 29, 2015 Travis rated it it was amazing
Drybut the lessons can be used in many decision making areas.
Jeff Kelly
Jan 22, 2009 Jeff Kelly rated it really liked it

Now, the work begins.

After a memorable day in which he weathered Chief Justice John Roberts’ fumbling of the presidential oath, danced with his wife Michelle to the Etta James tune “At Last” crooned by Grammy Award-winning singer Beyonce, and attended all 10 inaugural balls, Barack Obama wakes up today as America’s first black president.

Yesterday inauguration was drenched in historical symbol and substance.

Obama referred repeatedly to the past in his inaug
May 25, 2015 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The title of this book intrigued me. As much as I enjoy reading history just for the sake of personal curiosity, it would be nice to also better put that knowledge to work for me. The analysis that the authors recommend can apply to government and business decision makers alike, although the examples they use to illustrate their process are all from the field of government.

It's too complex for me to try to summarize, but a few key points revolve around careful thought about historical analogies
Jul 22, 2007 Patrick rated it liked it
Shelves: americanhistory
A good book written with the intention of teaching decision makers at the Presidential level use history to help them form their decisions. If you're familiar with the details of the historical events that Neustadt and May focus on, then you will find their perspective on how and why the President and his cabinet made the decisions they made pretty interesting.

Doubtful that anyone in our current administration read this book during 2002 or 2003 (except maybe Colin Powell).

If you like high level
B. Lynwood Davis
Apr 27, 2012 B. Lynwood Davis rated it it was amazing
Excellent text outlining a number of "mini-methods" suggested by the authors on utilizing history to deal with crisis. The manuscript is written primarily for decision makers and their staffs who formulate and implement policy. While seemingly geared toward the public sector, such mini-methods and concepts, such as getting the organizational history, have applications across the private spectrum as well. Overall, one of the single best books I've read on how to actually arrive at decisions.
Joe Reap
This is an excellent book for those (like me) who do not have strong history backgrounds, but are required to have a working understanding of certain historical events. Placing events in context, based upon facts known to decision makers at the time, has helped me learn more about how to seek and use history for my current work. This book was helpful in learning how to do that.
Sep 25, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it
An interesting but dry book regarding the decision making process in politics. Using the Cuban Missile Crisis and the development of Social Security as two examples among several, it makes invaluable points about the importance of taking into account the historical background and motivations behind the actions of other persons and countries.
Stace Lee
Jun 20, 2016 Stace Lee rated it it was amazing
A must read for analysts and planners from all job functions who are looking to use history/world events to forecast future actions. Simply written, clear and concise, Neustadt's book is a go to reference.
Bo Trapnell
Jan 18, 2017 Bo Trapnell rated it liked it
While the preface explained that the book wouldn't simply use hindsight to explain best processes for decision-making, the book did as any reasonable person would expect.
The explanation of some historical events was enlightening but I grew frustrated with the authors' arrogance.
May 12, 2009 Bill rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interestingly enough one of the things they go over in this book is the Ford administration's decisions regarding swine flu. It is very dry, I might finish it another time, or just use it for reference at some point.
Kirk Kittell
I saw this as a reference in "Blair, Bush, and the Problem of Political Judgment" by Laurence Prusak, Harvard Business Review, 2 September 2010.
Lauren Huibregtse
Two thumbs down. While there is a grain of reason in this book, I felt more like they were saying Hind Sight is 20/20, so make sure you make the right decision this time. Most of this book felt like common sense with a few grains of wisdom sprinkled in here and there.
Aug 30, 2012 Raymond rated it it was ok
Its a good book but very dry reading and nothing really eye-opening. We are all told history repeats itself, they just wrote a book about how.

I wouldn't really recommend this book unless you doubt how history always comes back and never experienced it yourself.
Jun 06, 2009 Robquarles rated it really liked it
Did you know that LBJ was NOT part of JFK's secret circel on dealing with the Cuban Missle crisis. Find out this and why that probably showed the genius of JFK at the time.
Dec 26, 2016 Paul rated it liked it
Interesting review of how history has been used in formulating decision making.
Stacey Brewer
Interesting summary of key political moments and decisions. A good book for novice political history buffs.
Keith Irwin
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Oct 24, 2012
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