I do strongly agree with the first reviewer that the most effective way to get into complexity is to start with the original! At present, the complexity theory is overwhelming - covering the application ranging from physics to social sciences.
However, I think only few people outside the mainstream of sciences know that the origin of this theory is from the "Brussel School of Thought" pioneering by Theophile De Donder and perfecting by Ilya Prigogine and his colleagues in the past century. All of whom were working on non-equilibrium and statistical thermodynamics.
Perhaps, the greatest contribution this group of scientists (the majority of which are physical chemists) have made is the discovery of order that can sponteneously arise out of randomness through the influx of energy and the export of entropy. This idea has been further elaborated and developed into the theory of dissipative structures in which the dynamics of complex systems are described and explained.
For the general readers, I would recommend "Order out of Chaos: Man's New Dialogue with Nature" (Prigogine and Stengers, 1984) as a primer before going into this volume. The early chapters of "The Self-Organizing Universe: Scientific and Human Implications of the Emerging Paradigm of Evolution" (Jantsch, 1979) also helps.
This book is a concise and comprehensive introduction to the the field of complexity. A prior knowledge on non-equilibrium and statistical thermodynamics and non-linear dynamics will be a great help, but not compulsory, to appreciate this work and I would recommend this book to the readers with technical backgrounds and want to get into the field of complexity in a serious fashion.
May 9, 2009