Looking for some beach reading this summer? Then spread out your beach towel, put on some sunscreen, and settle in with a logistics-themed novel. Yes, there is such a thing—more, in fact, than you might expect.
Last year, we wrote about two books that mix work and play: Lean 9001: Battle for the Arctic Rose, a sci-fi novel about "lean" manufacturing in a universe far, far away; and Tortoise Riskies, a novel about crime and international trade.
These are not the first of their kind. Way back in 1997, Jim Tompkins, head of the consulting firm Tompkins Associates, and co-author Brenda Jernigan published the novel Goose Chase: Capturing the Energy of Change in Logistics. That same year, the Council of Logistics Management (now the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals) commissioned a thriller titled Precipice.
The latest addition to the genre is Tompkins' second novel, Caught Between the Tiger and the Dragon. The story follows Goose Chase protagonist Rich Morrison, logistics VP-turned-CEO of a lingerie manufacturing company, as he manages his company's move into China. Along the way, he confronts supply chain problems as well as the stresses of working for a company where investors call the shots.
Logisticians aren't necessarily expert writers, so don't expect Pulitzer Prize-winning prose from any of these volumes (in that regard, Precipice—authored by novelist Daniel Pollock—may be the best of the lot). But they are fun to read for those of us in the business. Friends and family who wonder what exactly we do for a living might enjoy them, too.
Tompkins' books are available through his company's Web site, and Lean 9001: Battle for the Arctic Rose can be purchased from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. The others can be hunted down at online booksellers like Amazon.com and Powell's.