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Publisher's Summary

Why can't we solve our problems anymore? Why do threats such as the Gulf oil spill, worldwide recession, terrorism, and global warming suddenly seem unstoppable? Are there limits to the kinds of problems humans can solve?

Rebecca Costa confronts - and offers a solution to - these questions in her highly anticipated and game-changing book, The Watchman's Rattle. She pulls headlines from today's news to demonstrate how accelerating complexity quickly outpaces that rate at which the human brain can develop new capabilities.

With compelling evidence based on research in the rise and fall of the Mayan, Khmer, and Roman empires, Costa shows how the tendency to find a quick solution leads to a frightening long-term consequence: society's ability to solve its most challenging, intractable problems becomes gridlocked, progress slows, and collapse ensues.

A provocative new voice in the tradition of thought leaders Thomas Friedman, Jared Diamond, and Malcolm Gladwell, Costa reveals how we can reverse the downward spiral. Part history, part social science, part biology, The Watchman's Rattle is sure to provoke, engage, and incite change.

©2010 Rebecca D. Costa (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

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Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Roy
  • Beaumont, TX, United States
  • 11-05-10

A Macro Perspective on Complexity and Cognition

Rebecca Costa provides us in "The Watchman's Rattle" an interesting take on complexity in our modern world. Essentially, she suggests that change is moving at an ever faster rate and complexity of daily problems are exceeding our cognitive ability to deal with them. We react to our limited ability to address such problems and knowledge of these circumstances in two ways. First, we tend to yield to the advice of experts and decisions of government. Second, we resort to "irrational opposition'' to circumstances which we do not understand or rather do not have adequate knowledge to deal with. This little book has many beneficial insights for anyone who approaches it. I found issues were reiterated and approached in different ways throughout the book. I hope that she will continue to expand on the ideas generated here. The writing is clear and approachable, the book informative and thought provoking, and the narration excellent throughout.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Andy
  • Westport, CT, United States
  • 02-01-11

why we don't do what we should do

Insightful look into what causes people to take the wrong action/s, even when there is a ton of lead time to prepare. Some good ideas on how to avoid repeating these errors, as well as how to amp up your cerebral activity.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Great premise stretched too thin

I got this book on the recommendation of somebody I respect. The central premise of is fully deserving of attention. The overwhelming complexities of modern life puts humanity over a "cognitive threshold" redolent of past fallen civilizations. The first few hours of content were informative and thought-provoking. I know they'll stay with me a long time.
But as the piece wore on and the book over-waxed into what Costa calls "super-memes," the findings became less grounded and centrally relevant to a Monterrey-dwelling Boomer, as Costa is, with lots of personal stories and unsupported opinions. I felt relief when it ended.
About the reader, Therese Plummer is a wonderful narrator with a delightful voice. She's done almost exclusively works of fiction and tends to treat this more as a performance than a straight narration. Most off-putting for me was when she shifts into a sort of "male-adult voice of authority" when encountering a reference quotation. The first time she did it, I laughed out loud and thought it was a gag. Eleven hours later I never really got used to it, but that's me.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A truly insightful look at our lives, our society, and our direction

Rebecca just breaks it all down so succinctly. Starting with her analogy of the Geopolitical condition of the Mayan civilization and it's demise, she connects the dots to illustrate how we behave in the same manner. Not only how, but why we behave as we do. Both then and now.

She diagrams out in very easy to understand terms, the way our brain compartmentalizes and manages (and or doesn't), problems and issues that are really just to big for us to handle.

For me, this book was a page turner, an "ah ha" generator, and served as call to be cognizant of my process and actions. Now that I know what I am looking for that is 😀

The book is in no way a doomsday project, but rather a catalyst for growth and change on both personal and global levels.

Loved this book!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Insightful macro trend insights.

Costa has build a compelling insight into the trends across our social spectrum. Something very helpful and very thought-provoking for those of us who are thinking about the next big thing.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • jerry
  • South Burlington, VT, United States
  • 12-20-12

help for thinking outside the box

What did you love best about The Watchman's Rattle?

the ideas are well conceived and well expressed

What did you like best about this story?

the optimism was both held to reason and sincere

Have you listened to any of Therese Plummer and Kevin T. Collins ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

no

Any additional comments?

the science is at times sketchy and not well documented, a little bit more hype than science

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Rachel
  • YAKIMA, WA, United States
  • 02-29-12

so much information I need to listen again

Would you listen to The Watchman's Rattle again? Why?

Not only would I listen again, I plan to. There was so much interesting information in this book I was just blown away. The writing was very good and the content was eye opening and insightful. By the description the book sounded interesting but depressing. My mom highly recommended it and I'm glad I took her advice.

What other book might you compare The Watchman's Rattle to and why?

I might compare it to

What about Therese Plummer and Kevin T. Collins ’s performance did you like?

Hmm, that's interesting, I don't remember a man reading on this book. The performance was fine but I was occasionally annoyed by the woman's voice when she adjusted it to read a man's quote.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

yes. If only there were time.

Any additional comments?

Go get this book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

And I Thought It Was Just Me

Insightful and thought provoking reality check. The comparisons and behaviors in the societies and studies discussed seem futuristic yet so simple. And are here today.... And I though it was just me....

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Did not enjoy listening to it

The book seemed interesting at first sight, but I did not listen very far. What I heard was verbose and rather uninteresting despite the subject's potential; judging from the opening chapter, the book would have profited from a draconian pruning by a good editor. This is aggravated by Therese Plummer's emphatic way of reading: she seems to be trying hard to make phrases and sentences more significant than they are. I found it very irritating. (I can't say anything about the other reader, Kevin Collins).
My impression is a young writer who wants to say something important but lacks maturity and mastery of her subject, and who sorely needs the services of a professional editor. Perhaps I am unfair since I listened to very little of this long book, and I might have a different opinion had I been reading instead of listening (I would have skimmed it and perhaps discovered riches). But I found the audiobook unlistenable and cannot recommend it to anyone. This said, I don't want to keep anyone from a book whose contents I still don't know, but I suggest you at least have a look at the printed book first.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful