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SAGE Publications

Cover Image: Disaster Policy and Politics: Emergency Management and Homeland Security
  • Date: 03/17/2008
  • Format: Print Paperback
  • Price: $81.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-87289-460-0
  • Pages: 232
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Disaster Policy and Politics: Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Richard Sylves, George Washington University

Listen to Richard Sylves on his interview from "Homeland Security Inside & Out" 

Click Here to Listen
Richard Sylves Interview 

Interview from 'Homeland Security Inside and Out' which airs on KAMU. Interview air date: May 20, 2008.

In this groundbreaking book, long-time expert and scholar in the field of disaster management, Richard Sylves, comprehensively surveys the field of emergency management while building on his original research and sharing his insider knowledge. Providing much needed synthesis of the field’s major findings, scholarship, and current developments, Sylves structures the book with an analytical framework that focuses on the challenge of effective intergovernmental relations—both across levels of government and across types of disasters—to guide readers through instructive and important political history as well as recent crises.

Whether for an undergraduate studying the topic for the first time or a practitioner looking for professional development, Disaster Policy and Politics will prove to be a highly readable, informative text and handbook aimed at laying a foundation of knowledge and know-how.

Ten chapters offer, among other topics:

  • a contextual history of disaster policy and politics;
  • a discussion of global issues and influences;
  • an exploration of the politics of planning and funding for the next disaster;
  • a look to the future, to where emergency management goes from here, including its maturation into a profession.
A valuable learning resource available with the book is a website sponsored by the Public Entity Risk Institute that tracks presidential disaster declarations issued for every state and county from 1953 through 2006.
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Table of Contents

1. Disaster Management in the United States

2. Disaster Management and Theories of Public Management

3. Historical Trends in Disaster Management

4. Understanding Disaster Policy through Presidential Disaster Declarations

5. The Role of Scientists and Engineers

6. Intergovernmental Relations in Disaster Policy

7. Civil-Military Relations and National Security

8. Globalization of Disasters

9. Conclusions and the Future


“I see four major strengths in Disaster Policy and Politics (there are probably more, but these are central to the why the book will be used). First, Richard Sylves has not just jumped on the ‘bandwagon of disaster,’ like others have. Rather, he has been long engaged in the area. Second, his research is well known, and he will use his and others’ research in a correct, current fashion. Third, and I think this is really important, this book, as I understand it, is tried and tested amongst students. Finally, it will provide the first comprehensive look at disaster management through the years.”

- David Neal, Oklahoma State University

"Disaster Policy & Politics offers an excellent and highly useful overview of the history of how the federal government has responded to disasters since 1950. It puts the disaster relief program in the proper context of federal-state relations, and it illustrates the changes in the program that are underway as a result of recent developments (such as the September 11 attacks). Further, it is extremely useful to make the case that federal disaster policy is very much a function of individual presidents, and the review of each president’s approach and the explanation of the different presidential methods was very good."

- James F. Miskel, Consultant, Alidade Inc.

"Sylves plows new ground – he chronicles presidential Disaster Declarations, contextualizes the history of local government declarations, and analyzes the Department of Homeland Security. Disaster Policy & Politics should be required reading for students of emergency management public administration, disaster sociology, disaster politics and a host of social science studies and emergency management planners would do well to have it incorporated into the states’ professional development series coursework."

- Charlie Craig, Director of Emergency Management, Volusia County Emergency Management
Richard Sylves, George Washington University

Richard Sylves is professor of political science at the University of Delaware. He has served on a National Academy of Science, National Research Council panel, and he has done funded and unfunded research for FEMA. He served three years as an appointed member of the National Academy of Science Disaster Roundtable. His books include The Nuclear Oracles; Disaster Management in the United States and Canada: Politics, Policy, Administration, Study and Instruction of Emergency Management; Cities and Disaster: North American Studies in Emergency Management (with William Waugh); and Homeland Security and Emergency Management: A Public Budgeting Perspective.

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