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Learning from Failures: Decision Analysis of Major Disasters




Butterworth-Heinemann (Elesevier), Amsterdam




Ashraf Labib




Learning from Failures: Decision Analysis of Major Disasters


Year of Publication














Krishna B. Misra




Review Complete

The book consists of 14 chapters arranged in three parts, which are preceded by acknowledgements

Part 1: Background of Analytical Methods used in Investigation of Disasters


Chapter 1

Introduction to the Concept of Learning from Failures

15 Pages

Chapter 2

Introduction to Failure Analysis Techniques in Reliability Modeling

14 Pages

Chapter 3

Introduction to the Analytic Hierarchy Process

12 Pages

Part 2: A-Z of Disastrous Case Studies


Chapter 4

Bhopal Disaster-Learning from Failures and Evaluating Risk

16 Pages

Chapter 5

BP Deep Water Horizon

19 Pages

Chapter 6

BP Texas City Disaster

13 Pages

Chapter 7

Chernobyl Disaster

10 Pages

Chapter 8

The Concorde Crash

15 Pages

Chapter 9

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

29 Pages

Chapter 10

Hurricane Katrina Disaster

30 Pages

Chapter 11

NASA’s Space Shuttle Columbia Accident

14 Pages

Chapter 12

Titanic, the Unsinkable Ship that Sank

08 Pages

Part 3: Generic Lessons, Other Models of Learning from Failures and Research Directions

Chapter 13

Introduction to the concept of the Generic Lesson as an Outcome of Learning from Failures

10 Pages

Chapter 14

A Model of Learning and Unlearning from Failures

26 Pages

Not Just Rearranging the Deckchairs on the Titanic: Learning from Failures through Risk and Reliability Analysis

48 Pages


07 Pages

Glossary of Terms

01 Page



11 Pages


It is a good introductory book to provide students of reliability engineering and practicing engineers an insight to analyze the causes of major accidents or disasters which are in the end analysis caused by some failure of learning-from-failures-978-0-12-416727-8very insignificant component or device or subsystem or just shear negligence or oversight on the part of maintenance and operation staff. The book provides an insight of the causes of major disasters that have taken place over a period of time across the world by describing the sequence of events leading to the disaster by reasoning the technical and logical causes of a failure and its consequence for the overall system or entity. Extensive use of analytic tools like fault trees, reliability block diagram etc., have been made to explain the initial causes and reason out the causes of ultimate failure and kinds of failures that are possible under the particular scenario. Each chapter provides a critical commentary from the author which may or may not represent the author’s own reflection or view but of others as well on what could have saved the situation.

The book provides detailed case studies of a number of disasters, from different industries which include, Bhopal Gas Disaster (1984), which was the worst industrial disaster of the world, Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima ((2011) the two worst nuclear disasters (of scale 7); the BP Texas City incident (2005); Katrina Hurricane disaster (2005); the NASA Space Shuttle Columbia accident (2003); the Concorde accident (2000), and the sinking of the Titanic Ship (1912). Part 3 of the book provides a summary of lessons learnt from the case studies on disasters.

The reviewer feels that the book makes interesting reading and should be read by all those who want to specialize in the area of reliability engineering and understand the genesis of tragic events so that such mistakes are not repeated while designing or operating important systems and services.


This review has been published in Vol. 11, No. 2 March 2015 Issue of IJPE

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