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Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  429 ratings  ·  55 reviews
Millions of lives lost to catastrophes—natural and man-made—could have been saved by the advance warnings of experts. Can we find those prescient people before the next catastrophe strikes? Two CEOs and White House national security veterans reveal insider views of previous disasters, chilling insights on today’s threats to mankind, and a prescription to protect us 

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Hardcover, 416 pages
Published May 23rd 2017 by Ecco
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3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  429 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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Michael D. Kanner
Jul 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
My credentials in taking the position I have in this review. In addition to a career in the service with the last third working as an analyst, I am currently a university lecturer in security studies, a position I have held for over twenty years. My research is in the field of political psychology and its application to foreign policy.

I was sent this book by the publisher with a letter asking me to consider its adoption for a course. That is not going to happen. This represents the type of slop
Susan Burke
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am no expert. I do not have any degrees. I have not done any formal research. I am not a scientist, educator, or biologist. I have no credits to my account nor the authority to speak as an expert in any field. What I do have is experience and a personal testimony, followed up by four years of home grown research mixed in with a bit of grassroots activism. What I do know is that I just may be a "Cassandra" of modern day technology. And the reason I know it is because modern technology rendered ...more
Aug 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Even for those who fastidiously avoid the news, to live in the modern world is to be bombarded with visions of catastrophe. Our culture, our politics, our language––these have all become saturated with promises of impending doom. The psychological result of this predicament is among the most nefarious consequences of the global media’s invasion of daily life, and contributes to incalculable suffering, most of it needless. But only a fool would deny the many legitimate threats darkening the human ...more
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I spent most of the last 2 days reading this book and I can't stop thinking about it. I never heard of the author until I saw his book hit Amazon's top book list and decided to give it a try. The book is well-written and has insight from a plethora of credible sources. I felt that this book shed light on the many cassandras that exist in our modern world which I previously was not aware of, and most importantly the way in which a credible Cassandra can be determined.
Craig Leighton
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A quick read that allowed me to reflect on recent disasters and ask the question, "could this have been avoided, or at least alleviated in some way". This book provides excellent advice from some world-class people that have done their research and lived through these catastrophes. We need more problem solvers like this in our world. Great read, can't wait to see what surprises these two authors have to offer their readers next!
Madly Jane
Not for the faint of heart. This is one interesting thesis. I bought it for a synopsis on Hanse, the Cassandra on Climate Change. Texas and Harvey are Cassandra Warnings. Seeing Interstate 10 under water gave me the shivers. That's the future.
Tom Hill
Jun 07, 2017 rated it did not like it
I had high hopes for this book but unfortunately, the Cassandra in me forces me to warn you to stay away. Normally I would give a book like this 2 stars because I would learn at least a few things I did not know before. But Clarke and Eddy seem to have the same solution to every one of the so called catastrophes they review, which downgrades them to a one star. That is, the Federal Government needs to spend billions more of our tax dollars getting us prepared. Except Climate Change, just initiat ...more
Mal Warwick
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
There is no lack of dire predictions about the future. Hundreds of dystopian novels, especially the flood of books in that genre for young adults, have portrayed innumerable variations on future catastrophes. I became so intrigued about all this attention to a possible dystopian future that I wrote a book about it. It's called Hell on Earth: What we can learn from dystopian fiction. Now I've found someone far better positioned to assess the likelihood that some of those dystopian scenarios might ...more
Dan Graser
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This new work from Richard A. Clarke and R.P. Eddy is so far the biggest surprise of 2017. Written with great passion, clarity, and erudition, the book succeeds on several levels and avoids the many pitfalls that could accompany a book dealing with the issues presented.

Richard Clarke, whose experience includes work in the State Department under Reagan through his days on the National Security Council of Presidents Clinton and Bush, and R.P. Eddy, who served as Director of the National Security C
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Worth reading. The first part, a series of what-if-we-had-listened pieces, gave me a good case of nostalgia for what might have been. The next part, a series of seven warnings by high-credibility scientists and engineers, gave me a good case of the jitters. The third part, a how-to-listen-for-warnings prescription utterly failed to give me any hope, but that may just be my own pessimism and the anti-science political party currently in power. So - is this book in itself the Cassandra warning for ...more
Fred Leland
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding case studies on evolving threats

A great book if case studies in evolving threats manmade and natural. The books about those people who recognize the signs and signals form an orientation report what they believe only to fall on deaf ears. It also discusses the right ethos to develop in an effort for those charges with watching for and evaluations threats to observe orient decide and act in an effort to prevent disaster.
Shana Yates
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Cassandra, of Greek myth, had the gift of prophecy but the curse of never being believed. In this book, authors Clarke and Eddy turn to modern day Cassandras--those who warn of dire events but whose warnings are unheeded. The book starts with multiple chapters, each dedicated to a different catastrophe. Each catastrophe is explained, with the authors outlining the factors that made each disaster particularly harrowing, and then we are introduced to the individual or individuals who predicted the ...more
J.K. George
Apr 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-books
"Warnings" includes a lot to think about, and all in around 370 pages, so not too thick. The authors, both with plenty of inside experience at high levels of the US Government, present several actual disaster/error occurrences and analyze why these were not spotted and/or acted on before hand. These include Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, Hurricane Katrina and the disaster to New Orleans (they will return to that basic theme with Climate Change as a near certain ongoing threat in the making), the ...more
Max Nova
"Warnings" asks the most important question of our time: "when it comes to predicting disasters, who should we trust?" Unfortunately, Clarke and Eddy's answer is vague and untenable. One of their four key recommendations is to build a system to "sift the credible from the dubious, separating the signal from the noise." Sounds great, but how should we do that? They recommend:
Knowing when the data is rich and extensive enough to trust it and when it is too scant is difficult. If data is in short s
Bryan Ney
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book to obtain insight into the politics of climate change. I found it to be a fascinating presentation of past crises, as well as future threats. The author presents a framework for thinking of the societal inertia that is common to both past and future threats, and in this I am reminded of the freakonomics books. The writing is more wonkish, but I found the author convincing in showing that common concepts ran through each chapter: Initial Occurrence Syndrome, availability bias, in ...more
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is an examination on two fronts: who were the Cassandras of some of our great catastrophes that could have been prevented and then moves into an examination of today's potential Cassandras.

Between these two sections is a chapter on what they've coined, "The Cassandra Coefficient." It's a formula they came up with based on previous Cassandras to apply to people today on whether they're an actual Cassandra or just a raving lunatic. They never flat out tell you, "Yes, this person is a Cas
Nov 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
Unfortunately, I bought this book before I heard an interview with one of the authors - R.P. Eddy. Fortunately, I got the book from an Amazon special for $1.99! Anyway, in the interview, I learned that Eddy is quite arrogant and condescending (as in, why are so many people so stupid that they can't see what is obvious to someone as smart and as knowledgeable as myself).

The stories are interesting and engaging. However, as I read, I kept thinking, it seems like survivorship bias. Yeah, it is clea
Peter House
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Simultaneously an enjoyable and hard book to read, Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes, starts out with real stories ranging from the run up to the first Iraq War on to the West Virginia mine incident.

The books has three sections - the first recounts missed warnings like ones listed above. There's a brief interlude where the authors present a rubric for sifting through warnings.

The final section, the hardest, surveys a number of modern threats. The Internet of Things (already here,
Chad Foster
Jan 08, 2018 rated it liked it
This book has one of the most interesting and original premises that I’ve ever seen. The authors explore why “Cassandras” - those unique individuals who recognize emerging threats when those around them do not - are so often ignored.

The authors use multiple case studies to illustrate their argument in building the book’s most original contribution: the so-called “Cassandra Coefficient.” This concept lists four situational components and specific associated characteristics for each that can assis
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating, scary, informational, educational book! I'm glad I read it. It did not frighten me as much as I had feared but it certainly informed me more than I had expected.
First half of book is about missed Cassandra warnings from Katrina to Madoff and Fukashima. The Cassandras are unexpected persons. It reminded me that there were enough warnings about 9/11 too; but they were from the "wrong" people ie Not Important People and thus ignored by those who believed themselves More Impor
Dec 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebook, nook
Why don’t people listen to warnings that could have prevented catastrophes? The authors drill into this question by examining unheeded warnings of the past and devising a methodology to determine whether or not the person giving the warning - a Cassandra - should be believed. The authors then present seven unbelievably galactic-sized issues we face (meteors, nuclear winter, AI to name just three) and apply their methodology to them. One comes away feeling we’re doomed so who cares whether or not ...more
Gilda Felt
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I’m very much of two minds about this book. While I agree with the authors regarding how often warnings are ignored–they’re not called Cassandras for nothing–I’m not sure that our government, probably not any government, will follow their advise regarding what to do about future warnings.

Even though many examples are given of when warnings were ignored, humans tend to disregard anything that’s not immediate, especially if a loss of money is involved. I don’t see that changing anytime soon, so I
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The authors first explore a number of well-known disasters and discuss the Cassandra's that predicted them. A Cassandra is usually someone with highly technical knowledge or specialty in a specific area. Most of them are not well-know, but they have predicted the Challenger disaster, the problems in the Syrian conflict, the invasion of Kuwait, Hurricane Katrina, Fukushima, Bernie Madoff, the Big Branch Coal Mine Disaster and the 2008 Recession.

The authors show what commonalities each event inclu
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent read! Even though experts predicted catastrophes would occur, they were ignored. Examples: hurricane Katrina, Bernie Madoff, Fukushima, the rise of Isis, etc. Chapters for each example are clearly supported by facts and evidence for each event. The predictors are called "Cassandras." Cassandra was the princess of Troy and was not favored by Apollo. Therefore, Apollo cursed her with the ability to predict catastrophes but the inability to have people believe her. Cassandra perished in t ...more
Linda  Branham Greenwell
A great book about some of the possible events threatening the earth. I love the idea of using Cassandra's warning of "doom" - and no one believing. I have to admit I liked the new warnings more that I liked the past warnings
In the later chpaters an expert in each field is interviewed to give warnings about potential future damgers that we are facing - for example: in artificial intelligence - what could happen if artificial intelligence is not controlled from the very beginning; in the interne
John Doyle
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Warnings, Clarke examines the factors and biases that cause decision-makers to ignore forecasts of catastrophic events. He recounts timely, emphatic warnings before past disasters such as 9/11, the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, and the 2008 financial crisis as examples. In each case, the warnings were given by domain experts based on extensive data and were repeated and passionately expressed for years. But they were ignored. Clarke offers a framework for assessing new warnings and applies it t ...more
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well this was a horrifying read! LOL
No, seriously this book is written by a man who knows global threats and has worked to provide intelligence and defense against incoming dangers to our nation and ourselves. There is a lot to take in here, from the Russian efforts against us, including them tampering within the scope of our voting and election process. Environmental dangers and personal dangers from others around us, this book covers a lot of ground and makes you think a lot about where you ar
Jordan Shelvock
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
The first half of the book should be a must read. Cataloguing disasters in recent history like the first Gulf War, Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, the ponzi scheme of Bernie Madoff, and others the authors offer valuable lessons about ignoring warnings and give great overviews of the event explaining what might otherwise be difficult to grasp events and making them simple. This was the best part.

In the second half, they look to trying to identify the 'Cassandras' who are warning us today of future di
Rodrigue Ronald
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Richard Clarke is at it again, with prediction from Cassandras around the world, this book is a must read and shows you how to pay attention to whistle blowers around us, trying to avert dangerous disasters, or markets crashing around the world. it is also a good insight on how institution fail from the inside because of bureaucracy and the refusal to accept findings from experts whom are often right in their prediction of a potential disaster awaiting to occur. I would recommend it, to anyone w ...more
David Joseph
Dec 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I think of these writers and prognosticators as the better half of the various nut job conspiracy theorists out there. Or maybe they just haven't cracked yet. Some of the 'future' Cassandraists like Sea-level/climate change alarmists have been in our consciousness for a while. Others, like a meteor-strike alarmist are so remote as to be abstract and not really bothersome. The authors do a really good job of not necessarily endorsing the various Cassandras and simply presenting the information t ...more
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Richard Alan Clarke was a U.S. government employee for 30 years, 1973–2003. He worked for the State Department during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush appointed him to chair the Counter-terrorism Security Group and to a seat on the United States National Security Council. President Bill Clinton retained Clarke and in 1998 promoted him to be the National Coordina ...more
“Alternative history is a parlor game.” 0 likes
“Cognitive biases worked well when rapid pattern recognition and decision making was critical for survival,” 0 likes
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