Averting Catastrophe: Strategies for Regulating Risky Technologies. Joseph G. Morone and Edward J. Woodhouse. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1986. 215 pp. $17.95

The year 1986, which began as we were still reeling from Bhopal, brought Chernobyl's reminder of the international potential of major technological accidents, Challenger's reminder of the fallibility of even the most sophisticated engineering management systems (and human hubris), Lake Nyos' reminder that nature itself is not benign, and the Mexico City earthquake's reminder that geophysical upsets can perturb technologies such as inadequately constructed buildings with disastrous consequences.

Thus we hardly could be more sensitized to the question Morone and Woodhouse raise in their book: "Why, despite close calls, have risky civilian technologies produced no catastrophes in the United States? Have we simply been lucky—or is our good fortune at least partly the result of deliberate efforts to protect against these hazards?"

The authors are social...

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