Thinking In Time: The Uses of History for Decision Makers by Richard E. Neustadt

Both in government and in the private sector, decision makers use history every day, drawing on the past experiences of other people. They assign aides bits and pieces of historical research: going to the files or checking memories and comparing recollections. They look at a great many words on paper. A former high official told the co-authors of this book, “Although the public impression is that Presidents and Secretaries of State have no time to read or think, the truth is that most of them spend an enormous amount of time reading material generated both in the government and outside.” But the uses currently made of history can be more reflective and systematic, and thus more helpful. This book is all about how to do it. Presenting stories of success and failure the authors suggest practices which, if made routine, could at least protect against common mistakes. The target audience consists of decision makers and the men and women who work for them as direct or personal staff.