As a historian by training, I believe that we study the past to learn from it. While it's too simplistic to say that we'll never repeat mistakes of the past having studied them in the present, I do believe that history can teach us valuable lessons. And more often than not, these lessons teach us what not to do rather than what to do. For this reason, I found Supply Chain Digest's free whitepaper on the the eleven worst supply chain disasters of all time to be fascinating reading.
From a procurement and global trade perspective, there are many lessons in these supply chain disasters from a total cost and inventory perspective. For example, take Apple's failure to ramp up capacity to meet unexpected demand of its new Power Mac in 1995 and Sara Lee's total cost catastrophe when it moved production from Manila to even "lower cost countries" in 1994. All in all, there are some great lessons from the past in here. But unless supply chain and procurement executives learn from them, I suspect we'll continue to see history repeat itself, especially on the global sourcing front.