Neustadt, Richard E & Ernest R May: Thinking in Time

Richard E. Neustadt & Ernest R May

Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision Makers, The Free Press, New York & London, 1988; first published 1986

Classic book which should have seen more editions. Described by one writer as the authors’ bid to pioneer ‘working procedures to get more history used better on the job by busy people preoccupied with daily decisions . . . of management’. Has a number of case studies on American decision-making and a final chapter, ‘Seeing time as a stream’, which stresses the predictive value of the past, the importance of recognising how the present is different from the past, and the need to continuously compare present, future and past. Reading such a book makes one realise that the ‘lessons of history’ are not fixed; just as how history is written depends upon who is doing the writing, the use that is made of it depends on the user. Each generation can learn different lessons from history.

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