The images of devastation and the stories of misery in Aceh during and after the December 2004 tsunami, which had dominated the national and international media for weeks, confronted us with our weaknesses in times of disaster. This lead us to the fact that although disasters are as old as the history of mankind, we are still struggling with the question: what is to be done with disasters? This paper is a small part of the struggle. As a literature survey, it aims to provide a systematic overview on various important issues and debates on efforts in understanding and managing disaster. This paper is organized in two parts. The first part deals with the various theoretical aspects of disaster study such as definitional debates of disaster, classification of calamities, and some themes (risk, vulnerability, ageing, gender) that are important in understanding disasters. The second part examines various aspects of efforts in managing disasters. It discusses themes such as the components of disaster management and the way it has been done at different levels and in different countries.