Book review: Chaos Engineering (2020)

Hard Facts

  • Title: Chaos Engineering — System Resiliency in Practice
  • Release Date: April 2020
  • Authors: Casey Rosenthal, Nora Jones
  • Publisher: O’Reilly Media
  • ISBN: 9781492043867


This is my first book about Chaos Engineering. My expectation about the content was to learn primarily theory about Chaos Engineering. The questions in my head were: What is Chaos Engineering? What are the basic concepts? Ideas on how to apply Chaos Engineering to your work?


Now, I describe each chapter with one or two sentences to give you more insight.

Chapter 1: Encountering Complex Systems — You learn something about simple and complex systems and in which situation Chaos Engineering can be usefully applied.

Chapter 2: Navigating Complex Systems — Main focus on the topics “Dynamic Safety Model” and Economic Pillars of Complexity Model”

Chapter 3: Overview of Principles — Principles of Chaos Engineering but also the interesting discussion about experimentation vs. testing.

Chapter 4 to Chapter 8 is about applied chaos engineering in the company’s: Slack, Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, CapitalOne.

Chapter 9: Creating Foresight — About the actual process in Chaos Engineering and what is important in every phase (before, during, after).

Chapter 10: Humanistic Chaos — What means Chaos Engineering applied to the organization or the people?

Chapter 11: People in the loop — Why, how, and when of experiments and experiments automation. I found also it interesting: HABA-MABA (Humans are better at / machines are better at).

Chapter 12: The Experiment Selection Problem (and a Solution) — It’s not easy to choose the “right” experiment. The role of an expert plays an important role.

Chapter 13: ROI of Chaos Engineering — This chapter includes topics like the general return of investment, the Kirkpatrick model, and measuring key performance indicators.

Chapter 14: Open Minds, Open Science and Open Chaos — The key for a successful science (Chaos Engineering) is to have shareable results and “Open Chaos Engineering”.

Chapter 15: Chaos Maturity Model — The CMM as a framework helps the organization to improve Chaos Engineering in the aspect of adoption and sophistication.

Chapter 16: Continuous Verification — CV is tooling to verify the system behavior. CV in the wild could be ChAP (Chaos Automation Platform).

Chapter 17: Lets Get Cyber-Physical — This chapter is about cyber-physical-systems and topics like Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA).

Chapter 18: HOP meets Chaos Engineering — Human and Organization Performance (HOP) in the context of Chaos Engineering and the principles of HOP.

Chapter 19: Chaos Engineering on a Database — How Chaos Engineering can improve a hybrid transactional/analytical processing database. Also some very practical information about robustness and stability (like network partitioning or failure injection for a filesystem).

Chapter 20: The Case for Security Chaos Engineering — What is Security Chaos Engineering (SCE) and how can it improves security (in addition to red/purple teams).

Chapter 21: Conclusion — Sum ups the whole key message and also enforcing rules for increasing reliability can lead to less reliability. Chaos Engineering is a tool to create resilience.


First of all, I want to clarify that the book includes much more than I described with every chapter. I took some information from my notes to show you one or two topics. I also wanted to say that I didn’t cross-check my information with the information from O’Reilly. You should check out this as well.

I think it gave me the right information to learn some basic theories about the topic. I also liked chapters 4 to 8 — I didn’t describe anything about that, because you have to read it. Because this is my first book about Chaos Engineering everything is kind of new and exciting for me.

If you want a book to show you explicitly how to implement Chaos Engineering in your company then this book might be ok, but I think Learning Chaos Engineering would be the better option (based on the online information).

Another thing I like to mention is that the book consists of chapters from a lot of different authors. It’s kind of good because you read different opinions and perspectives but I’m not a big fan of it. Two reasons for that: First, you read different styles and this resulted in a strange behavior for me that I need to read two, three pages that I’m comfortable with that style. Maybe it’s because English is not my first language. Secondly, you read some basic information several times, because every author writes his chapter without really linking to other chapters. Overall I think I would be more a fan of it when there is a clear structure and red line to follow.

But of course, I have to say that the book has answered all the questions I had before the book.

I hope this review will help you with a purchase decision. I want definitely to learn more about Chaos Engineering. If you can recommend a book to me, please let me know.