Book Beginnings and Friday 56 – Willful Blindness (Oct 17)

For this week’s Friday meme combo I have chosen Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril by Margaret Heffernan. I bought this book a couple of years ago, not long after it came out, but I am only getting round to reading it now. Recent events in our little community prompted me to pick it up now and get it read. The following description is found at GoodReads:

willful blindnessA book that will open eyes to the most serious problem of our times.

In the case of the US Government versus Enron, the presiding judge chose to employ the legal concept of willful blindness: you are responsible if you could have known, and should have known, something which instead you strove not to see. The guilty verdict sent shivers down the spine of the corporate world. In this book, Margaret Heffernan draws on psychological studies, social statistics, interviews with relevant protagonists, and her own experience to throw light on willful blindness and why whistleblowers and Cassandras are so rare. Ranging freely through history and from business to science, government to the family, this engaging and anecdotal book will explain why willful blindness is so dangerous in a globalized, interconnected world, before suggesting ways in which institutions and individuals can start to combat it. Margaret Heffernan’s thought-provoking book will force us to open our eyes.

Now for this week’s excerpts:

book beginningsBook Beginnings is hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader, who invites anyone to join in, saying: ‘Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.  Please remember to include the title of the book and the author. Leave a link to your post.  If you don’t have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.’

The beginning of Willful Blindness:

On July 19, 2011, the British Member of Parliament Adrian Sanders asked James and Rupert Murdoch a question that temporarily silenced them both.

“Are you familiar with the term ‘willful blindness’?”

This week some of our local council officials were deemed by a judge to have been ‘willfully blind’. I have to admit that I wasn’t all that familiar with the term until I picked up this book, so I am looking forward to finding out more about it and why our officials were described in this way.

Friday 56The Friday 56 is a book meme hosted by Freda’s Voice and the rules are as follows:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.

It’s that simple.

From page 56 of Willful Blindness:

Cold War ideology had blinded McNamara and his colleagues to the fundamental, primary motive of the Vietnamese. They weren’t fighting to become part of a greater communist bloc. They were fighting to become free from all imperial powers.

Not perhaps the most exciting excerpt, but I am still fascinated enough by this idea to want to get this book read soon. I’m off for a week of holiday’s now, so maybe I’ll get a bit more reading in and be able to get through this one.

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4 thoughts on “Book Beginnings and Friday 56 – Willful Blindness (Oct 17)

  1. I feel there are many corrupt people in politics and big business. They seem to have the attitude that the rules don’t apply to them. I think this is a book that would bring my anger to the forefront and…sometimes…I like that.
    sherry @ fundinmental Friday Memes – Bad Apples

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