Academic journal article Homeland Security Affairs

Changing Homeland Security: Ten Essential Homeland Security Books

Academic journal article Homeland Security Affairs

Changing Homeland Security: Ten Essential Homeland Security Books

Article excerpt

This article presents what I consider to be ten essential homeland security books. The list is personal and provisional. The discipline is too new to have a canon. We need to continuously examine what is signal and what is background noise in homeland security's academic environment.

Much has been written about homeland security. A lot more is in the publishing pipeline. My list includes books I find myself returning to as I seek to understand contemporary homeland security events. Beyond personal interest, I believe they form a foundation for a growing understanding of the parameters of what it means to study homeland security as a professional discipline. Other books - and important articles - could be added, but ten is sufficient to start.

These books are:

* The Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States: 9/11 Commission Report (2004)

* The National Strategy for Homeland Security (2002)

* After: How America Confronted the September 12 Era (2003)

* Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror (2004)

* America the Vulnerable: How Our Government is Failing to Protect Us From Terrorism (2004)

* Homeland Security: A Complete Guide to Understanding, Preventing, and Surviving Terrorism (2005)

* Catastrophe Preparation and Prevention for Law Enforcement Professionals (2008)

* Trapped in the War on Terror (2006)

* Unconquerable Nation: Knowing Our Enemy; Strengthening Ourselves (2006)

* The Declaration of Independence (1776), The Articles of Confederation (1777), and The Constitution of the United States of America (1787)

Taken together, these works outline a broad historical narrative about homeland security. We were attacked. We quickly developed a strategy to make sure we prevented future attacks. We tried to come to terms with what happened to us as a nation. Next, textbooks and workbooks aiming to systematize homeland security ideas started to appear. Homeland security took the first steps toward becoming institutionalized. Then came the criticism of how we perceived the enemy and what we were doing - or not doing - to protect the homeland. Recently, some people maintain we have significantly overreacted to the threat and are now "trapped" in a War on Terror that accomplishes little, wastes resources and threatens our national values. Others urge government to focus resources on threats that have the potential to cause us the greatest damage and to encourage communities to become resilient. The American people must be willing to accept some level of risk. While there is a threat of attack by terrorists, there is a bigger danger that how we react will do more damage than the attack. As one of the authors cited later in this essay wrote: "Instead of surrendering our liberties in the name of security, we must embrace liberty as the source and sustenance of our security." Homeland security gets better through the open exchange of competing and contrasting ideas. Keeping this essential debate open and free helps ensure we will remain an "Unconquerable Nation."

The Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States: 9/11 Commission Report 1

Not many government reports are literary enough to be nominated for the National Book Award. The 9/11 Report was. 2 The Report chronicles the events that led to a perceived need for something called homeland security. It provides an analysis of why we were attacked and why the attack succeeded. It outlines what the nation needs to do to reduce the chances that we will be unprepared for another attack. It provides continually relevant benchmarks against which to assess the status of efforts to protect the nation from terrorism.

The book begins with a prosaically clinical retelling of what happened on a day that "dawned temperate and nearly cloudless in the Eastern United States. …

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