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Reader's Review

John Baker

The Conflict Resolution Toolbox: Models and Maps for Analyzing Diagnosing and Resolving Conflict
By Gary T. Furlong
256pp. Mississauga, Ontario: John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd, 2005
Hardcover Edition (US) $ 34.95

Gary Furlong is a well-known conflict management, negotiation and mediation teacher and practitioner. He is a principal in the firm of Agree Dispute Resolution (Toronto, Canada), the Past President of the ADR Institute of Ontario and a Fellow of the International Academy of Mediators and holds the Chartered Mediator designation. He has extensive and wide-ranging experience in conflict management. His practice has included organizational and family dispute resolution as well as a variety of workplace, real estate, shareholder and insurance conflicts. Mr. Furlong has had extensive experience in training law enforcement personnel, judges and students at many Canadian institutions, including York, Toronto and Queen's Universities. He is unquestionably an expert in conflict management.

The Conflict Resolution Toolbox is "a handbook for conflict resolution practitioners," the author tells us at its beginning (p.3). And, indeed, it is precisely that, an eminently useful book for "people who deal with and manage conflict" (p.3). It is, however, far more.

Furlong's toolbox is not intended to provide a grab bag of skills, but rather to enrich its reader with a set of eight distinctive models or "maps" that can enable the conflict manager to select an appropriate framework for the diagnosis and effective management of differing conflict situations. It is an important and valuable contribution to the field.

"There is no single diagnostic model that is 'right' or 'correct' or even 'true'," Furlong warns his readers. "Diagnostic models are best judged by their utility,' he asserts (p.14).

Given this, the author presents his reader with a conflict case study and uses eight different conflict models to diagnose and treat the case. It is a well done and effective technique, supplemented by additional individual case studies that help to further illuminate key elements of each model.

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September 2005