This is definitely one of the most difficult to read books I’ve encountered in the past years, due to the way it’s written. As it’s in German (and I’m not sure if this particular version has an English translation) this may be a bridge too far for some anyway, but even for people who are used to reading both German and academic papers this one may be prove challenging. Anyway, it was for me and I considered a few times to just give up, but I decided to persist and at least try to squeeze the main essence from it. This wasn’t easy due to the flowery and circular language that is frequented by words that common mortals will avoid at any cost in every day conversations (or writing, for that matter). It’s probably a typical example of a book written by an academic for other academics…

Okay, having given that warning let’s proceed to the contents. The book is a follow-up of his 1986 classic “Risikogesellschaft” and expands on the ideas presented there and an English book from 1999. It deals with risk on a global level and how is dealt with it, or should be dealt with is. Pretty much of the discussion is fairly philosophical in character and grounded in sociological theories (Beck is a Professor in Sociology, after all) which I’m not all that familiar with, so that may very well be one reason that much of the writing doesn’t appeal all that much to me. If I try to summarize some of the most important points these would include:

Risiko Ergo Sum.

As a whole an interesting, but very demanding, book which gives a slightly different view on risk from a totally different perspective than most safety professionals usually deal with. Some clear links to Taleb’s work too. But I’d say start with Taleb and you will have covered a good deal of Beck’s points too, in a (IMHO) more pleasantly readable way. The Wikipedia pages on Beck and his work are very informative, by the way.