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Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  542 Ratings  ·  76 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
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Free Press (first published April 3rd 2012)
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Aug 12, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Dec 25, 2013 rated it did not like it
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.
Greg Talbot
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
May 06, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up
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.
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the most important books that I've read this year. I found myself taking notes and rethinking my approach to sustainable development - perhaps it is more useful to use a resilience framework to understand sustainability than the sustainable development model itself. I can see how a system, if it has the patterns of resilience, would be able to mitigate and adapt to the risks of climate change for instance.

The storytelling is compelling, as the authors take us through dramatic cases such
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unassuming gem of a read. Was put off by some negative reviews but glad I persisted.

Found it filled with interesting ideas but also very readable.

Having said that, the concept of imbuing a system, community, environment with greater resilience seems an improvisational affair, filled with ad hoc arrangements, idiosyncratic individual leaders, transient opportunities and meetings of like minded people. To what extent is the book creating accounts of resilience that are simply summations of what
Nov 19, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
As I read this, I put it in the context of my own field of interest: protecting and restoring water resources. I won’t try to summarize the pile of ideas I collected and need to work on applying and discussing with others. I’ll just offer one of the overarching -- and uncomfortable-- concepts: resilience is a dynamic state. It is not a state we can study, define, build, and then manage. It integrates both central and dispersed control, so it requires being comfortable with a permanently shifting ...more
Daniel Taylor
Jul 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the heart of this book is a simple message: it's possible for us as individuals, organisations and communities to become more resilient.

Resiliency is defined as: "the capacity of a system, enterprise, or a person to maintain its core purpose and integrity in the face of dramatically changed circumstances."

It's highly readable, and will teach you many new terms as it draws examples from a range of fields, from the reasons for the Global Financial Crisis to fishing on the Mirconesian Island of
Feb 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
The first half of this is excellent and fascinating. In the second half, he seems to lose the thread a bit and goes off on some very long tangents that only seem a little related to resilience. He manages to tie it all together pretty well at the end, but it still seems like it could have been more focused. Still, the first part and the overall message are good enough for 4 stars. Definitely worth reading.
Daniel Threlfall
May 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
I liked Zolli's research, and appreciated the wide-ranging assessment of resilience. In effect, however, the book ranges so wide that it misses a focused realization of resilience. At the end of the book, I'm thinking, "So resilience is...everything — from South Pacific guppies to G7 summits." The mile-wide interpretation and alleged manifestations of resilience make it seem almost farcical. With a bit more focus and some stylistic polish, the book could have scored with greater effect.
Aaron Terrazas
Oct 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
Disappointing read. Anecdotes and popular knowledge woven together in search of an overarching theory, but mostly degenerating into tired truisms.
Ruah Swennerfelt
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read for everyone. Very comprehensive and well written. I couldn't put it down.
Alberto Lopez
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-favorites
What a fantastic book. System resilience is a relatively new field of study. From reading this book, it is clear that it's both a real science and of great importance to us. I found the arguments made by the author to be quite compelling. In an interesting way, the book's findings make great sense within the context of prior work on the complex system on everyone's mind today: the stock market. The Black Swan theory by Nassim Taleb and George Soros' Market Reflexibity concept describe how the ma ...more
Marc Faoite
Mar 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why are some things more efficient and enduring than others? This book doesn’t propose simple solutions to complex problems, but rather offers interesting ways of exploring and understanding complexity from many different directions.
Resilience is a both intelligent and important book that cuts across many disciplines in order to understand and suggest successful strategies for surviving and coping with downturns and disasters. This is a book for people who watch TED talks (and if you don’t, I st
Jan 19, 2017 is currently reading it
An interesting first read on resilience as a concept. The ontologies associated with it are fascinating, and this is for work, in my case so I am curious how I can adapt it with energy resilience. Anyway, interesting times ahead.
Hamilton Carvalho
Mar 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Too much "journalistic" for my taste. There are some interesting insights, but do no expect much depth.
Preston Kutney
Resilience is the capacity of a system, enterprise, or a person to maintain its core purpose and integrity in the face of dramatically changed circumstances - it is an incredibly useful concept in practically any industry - from business planning and strategy, to social development, urban planning or ecological conservation. Zolli's book is timely, as sustainability edges into mainstream planning and thinking, and for the most part, the book delivers.

The first section "The Resilience Imperative
May 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Derrick Trimble
Sep 25, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Perrin Pring
Jun 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this book accidentally. A friend linked the wrong book in his email, so while this book wasn't bad, it just wasn't what I was expecting.

Overall, this book is about how there are multiple layers to seemingly 'simple' problems. The authors use case studies of both failures and successes from around the world to highlight what makes certain people/communities 'bounce back'. They look at the American banking crisis, violence in Chicago, and environmental degradation around the world and talk
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ideas
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
Kylie Sparks
Aug 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Samson Blackwell
Apr 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Steven Conners
Sep 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: already-read
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
Kat Champigny
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 22, 2015 rated it liked it
This book was a struggle to get through. The concepts are good and it starts well, but it really struggles to hold your attention. It can be focused and interesting one paragraph and I'm thinking, surely I will finish this book, this stuff is fascinating. Then by the end of the page I am drifting off and going to give it to the library uncompleted.

I did finish but confess to some skim reading. As such the different chapters didn't seem to tie together very well. It's all kind of interesting, kin
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Initial review of the book 1 4 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
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