Another Year of Writing

The last decade has shot past with blinding speed. First, there was the Indian Ocean Tsunami way back in December 2004. A global catastrophe affecting millions, it was massive news at the time. I had no idea I would end up working on/in it let alone as senior advisor to the Indonesian Government for the recovery of Aceh and Nias. That absorbed a mere four-and-a-bit years. That should have ended it but didn’t. Next, came the first book that my boss, Indonesia’s tsunami minister Dr Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, insisted I write and I wanted to. It took a little longer to write than I wanted or could ever have imagined, another four years or thereabouts. And it didn’t end there. I then spent another year editing and publishing the book.

Tsunami ChroniclesThis is the book that emerged … “Tsunami Chronicles: Adventures in Disaster Management” (!tsunami-chronicles/c1pf9). It took a mere five years in total to write, edit, design and publish. But then it is six books in one – God’s Punishment, Rise of the Warlords, Consulting in Catastrophe, Cultures of Care and Contempt, End Games and Residuals of Recovery. That may explain why it took so long. In part, at least. It also took a long time because the subject matter was a critical contribution to global knowledge, the first serious attempt to pick apart the politics, management and leadership of global humanitarianism.

With that done, you might have thought I’d take some time off from writing. I did for a while. But there were other books within me pressing to get out, so I wrote another three. These were no where near as complex as Tsunami Chronicles but no less important, certainly for me.

Crisis Leadership“Crisis Leadership: Dealing with Disasters from Asia to Africa and America”. I wrote this book for anyone who would like to know what works and what doesn’t in crisis leadership. It sweeps over a pile of crises including the tsunami, the 9/11 terror attack on New York, genocide in Sudan and recent ebola outbreak in West Africa. In doing this, I take a swing at the UN generally as well as the World Bank and World Health Organisation for cultures often at odds with crises. Try this link if you are interested—!crisis/c1rhh

Building Back from Disaster: A Handbook for Leaders“Building Back from Disaster: A Handbook for Leaders”. I wrote this one after being pushed by several friends who asked me for a framework of ideas to help them as humanitarian leaders. So here it is, a toolkit for professional disaster practitioners in government, international agencies and non-government humanitarian organisations. I hope it helps them. If it does and they give me the right feedback, I’ll keep updating it with further editions. If not, I’ll let it stand. Here’s the link if you are interested—!about2/c1x2e

Tsunami: A Poet's Journey“Tsunami: A Poet’s Journey”. This is a different book altogether. It’s a poem. Just one, a longish one. Rather visceral, I wrote it to clear the emotional cobwebs clogging my head after writing the six books that comprise “Tsunami Chronicles”. While I make no claim to being a good poet, I do write lots of poems and love the discipline they require. As a writing, it forces me to think about the rhythm and rhyme of language. Try this link if you’d like to read a little more—!journey/cpnq.

That’s a reasonable package of work for one year. I wonder what 2015 will bring? There’s one more book on disasters I wrote many years ago that I’ve been refreshing. It’s a classic study of a man-made descent into disaster in East Timor. Perhaps also one of redemption, politically at least, as East Timor survived a civil war and Indonesian occupation to achieve independence. It’s a great story and an even better case study for anyone interested in the mistakes to avoid. Maybe one day I may also refresh my book on McBride, but that’s another story.


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