Mostly Gibberish, Nuggets Too Far Down to Dig Up,
October 13, 2000
There are no doubt a few nuggets of wisdom in this book, but they are buried too deeply in bureaucratic gibberish to be worth digging up. This book has no bibliography, no index, mediocre footnotes, no serious useful conclusions or strategic summary, and a disturbing combination of American-centrism (on page 71: “In the Asian continent….(t)he first driver will be the future U.S. role in Asia.”) with a lack of intelligent presentation. There are exactly three figures and seven tables in this 336 page book, when there should have been at least 30 tables and figures illustrating specific sources of conflict in relation to specific countries. The World Conflict and Human Rights Map (8 pages of graphics and 8 pages of fine print) out of Leiden University does vastly more to inform than does this book. This book should never, ever have been published in its present form–I venture to say that if it were condensed to 150 pages and properly edited, with graphics and good synthesis, it might be worthy of a second look. Time is the most precious commodity in the world–RAND managers and editors need to get serious about how they present possibly useful information to experts who want to know what RAND thinks, but cannot spare the time to get past cumbersome undisiplined–even lazy–preparations. The topic of this book is extremely important–those who would invest their scarce time and money in doing research in this area deserve better from those who put together this book.