Collapse by Jared Diamond
How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

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Synopsis

In his million-copy bestseller Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond examined how and why Western civilizations developed the technologies and immunities that allowed them to dominate much of the world. Now in this brilliant companion volume, Diamond probes the other side of the equation: What caused some of the great civilizations of the past to collapse into ruin, and what can we learn from their fates?

As in Guns, Germs, and Steel, Diamond weaves an all-encompassing global thesis through a series of fascinating historical-cultural narratives. Moving from the Polynesian cultures on Easter Island to the flourishing American civilizations of the Anasazi and the Maya and finally to the doomed Viking colony on Greenland, Diamond traces the fundamental pattern of catastrophe. Environmental damage, climate change, rapid population growth, and unwise political choices were all factors in the demise of these societies, but other societies found solutions and persisted. Similar problems face us today and have already brought disaster to Rwanda and Haiti, even as China and Australia are trying to cope in innovative ways. Despite our own society’s apparently inexhaustible wealth and unrivaled political power, ominous warning signs have begun to emerge even in ecologically robust areas like Montana.

Brilliant, illuminating, and immensely absorbing, Collapse is destined to take its place as one of the essential books of our time, raising the urgent question: How can our world best avoid committing ecological suicide?

Look out for Jared Diamond's latest book, The World Until Yesterday, coming from Viking in January 2013.

 

About Jared Diamond

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JARED DIAMOND is Professor of Physiology at the UCLA School of Medicine. The recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship ("Genius Award") and winner of the "Los Angeles Times" Book Award.
 
Published January 4, 2011 by Penguin Books. 612 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Education & Reference, Business & Economics. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Collapse

The New York Times

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After all, as Mr. Diamond himself points out, there are huge differences between the historical examples he cites and the plight of the world today: most notably, the role that technology plays in accelerating change (speeding up both environmental damage and possible solutions to that damage) an...

Jan 11 2005 | Read Full Review of Collapse: How Societies Choos...

The New York Times

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Jared Diamond draws on vanished societies to explain how cultures contribute to their own demise.

Jan 30 2005 | Read Full Review of Collapse: How Societies Choos...

The Guardian

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Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive by Jared Diamond Allen Lane £20, pp576 In a remote corner of south west Greenland, a group of abandoned buildings stands at the head of a long, mountain-rimmed fjord.

Jan 16 2005 | Read Full Review of Collapse: How Societies Choos...

The Guardian

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Anticipating a wide range of rebuttals to his central hypothesis (that the kind of collapse experienced by many cultures and civilisations in the past could easily happen to modern-day societies), he reminds people that we are already witnessing the conditions for collapse in a number of differen...

Jan 14 2005 | Read Full Review of Collapse: How Societies Choos...

Publishers Weekly

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At times Diamond comes close to a counsel of despair when contemplating the environmental havoc engulfing our rapidly industrializing planet, but he holds out hope at examples of sustainability from highland New Guinea's age-old but highly diverse and efficient agriculture to Japan's rigorous pro...

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Suite 101

Innovations in agricultural technology and practices can help mitigate the environmental costs of farming, while benefiting both farmers and the consumers.

Jan 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Collapse: How Societies Choos...

Suite 101

These eight factors arise repeatedly in the succeeding chapters, and allow readers to clearly and concisely absorb the effects of what Diamond terms “ecocide.” In addition to these, Diamond also lays out his five-point framework of other contributing factors to collapse: environmental damage, cl...

Dec 29 2004 | Read Full Review of Collapse: How Societies Choos...

The Bookbag

but an impending crisis calls for stricter measures - instead of lamenting that technology which provided us with Smart cars also produced SUV's I would welcome a recognition that an SUV is a marketing creation and if there was a political will, there would be a simple way to - for example - tax ...

Nov 25 2012 | Read Full Review of Collapse: How Societies Choos...

Daily Kos

Some of these people may fear a collapse of society - but their reaction is to build 'safe havens' - oblivious to their own role in promoting the collapse they fear.

Oct 18 2011 | Read Full Review of Collapse: How Societies Choos...

Daily Kos

- Less Than Jake - "Gainesville Rock City" by Laurie Gator on Mon Dec 29, 2008 at 06:07:31 AM PST.

Dec 29 2008 | Read Full Review of Collapse: How Societies Choos...

Bookmarks Magazine

Francis Fukuyama Minneapolis Star Tribune 1 of 5 Stars "For a writer of Diamond’s stature and acclaim to produce such a frustrating book is a squandered opportunity and a waste of a precious resource."

Jan 23 2008 | Read Full Review of Collapse: How Societies Choos...

The New York Review of Books

“Suppose the cost of extinction of the human race…can be very conservatively estimated at 600 trillion dollars [and there is] a 1 in 10 million annual probability of a strangelet disaster.” “Suppose there is a 70 percent probability that in 2024 global warming will cause a social loss of $1 trill...

Mar 24 2005 | Read Full Review of Collapse: How Societies Choos...

Energy Bulletin

one that comes readily to mind is John Michael Greer's paper "How Civilizations Fall: A Theory of Catabolic Collapse," with its distinction between maintenance collapse, in which a society recovers and again achieves imperial status, and depletion collapse, in which disintegration is complete and...

Jan 31 2005 | Read Full Review of Collapse: How Societies Choos...

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Diamond examines how and why societies created by groups such as the Anasazi, Maya, and Vikings failed in environmentally challenging

Jun 01 2015 | Read Full Review of Collapse: How Societies Choos...

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