Top positive review
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reasonably astute, but overlong
on 28 March 2015
If you are unfamiliar with the topic, then this is a decent enough introduction on how and why the UK government often gets things spectacularly wrong. The authors have fixed upon a catchy title, and go on to provide a definition of blunders, examples of blunders, and advice on how the system could be fixed to avoid blunders.
If you are familiar with the topic then you are likely to find relatively little here that is particularly new or surprising. Familiarity with the topic would include reading the odd issue of The Economist or Private Eye. Despite an incredible breadth of research and interviews, this often reads like a quick collation of various news stories from the past few decades. Relatively little use seems to have been made of the direct interviews, though the very extensive research and engagement does at least mean that the book is free of the sort of glaring misunderstandings that can pepper such books.
For my money, the book could easily have been shorter on recommendations, and longer on the case studies. I think that a more polemical book written by one author (and fewer researchers) might have given more punch to the topic. While this is not up to the standard of Whitehall by Peter Hennessy, it is a reasonably astute analysis of the state of British government.
For a completely different perspective, try The Utopia of Rules by David Graeber.