Like many people I've used aspects of the work of James Reason - in particular his Swiss Cheese Model, and at the same time heard some very experienced people criticise him for his over-simplification of various safety and human factors issues.
So, I decided that this was my entry point into trying to understand him better. And a very worthwhile entry point it is too.
In large part, what I felt was going on as I read this book was that Professor Reason: clearly a very eminent scholar in the field of human factors and human error, was leading me by the hand through his own understanding of the major issues of human factors, together with how he reached that level of understanding of that.
And a deep understanding it is - he shows very well the function and nature of the human being in safety critical systems, both as "hero" - compensating for the deficiencies of the management system or equipment, and in some cases retrieving a situation from the point of disaster, and as the weak point whose deficiencies lead to many problems. For anybody either studying safety and/or human factors, or managing in a safety critical environment, I'd regard this as an excellent and worthwhile read.
It has a few minor deficiencies - the introductory couple of chapters are a bit dry compared to the more readable later material, the diagrams are rarely all that impressive, and whilst it certainly appears to me that there are lessons here for a whole range of non-safety-critical management issues, Prof. Reason doesn't tend to point this out. But, this is quibbling and doesn't stop me giving the book five stars.