How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

Unknown - 2005
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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.

Publisher: New York : Viking, 2005.
ISBN: 9780670033379
Branch Call Number: 304.28 DIAMOND
Characteristics: xi, 575 pages, [24] pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm.
Alternative Title: Collapse


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Jul 27, 2017

People take the original research work of others [Joseph Tainter's brilliant research, in Diamond's case], then write it according to The Establishment Rules, and win those useless Pulitzer prizes [everyone appears to be unfamilair with Pulitzer's background, 'natch!], and then Diamond is in the same rarefied company of George Will and Stephen Hunter [/sarc].
Same occurred with Paul Krugman, who took someone else's original research, then put forth some submediocre position, and wins that Swedish Central Bank Prize in Economics, always incorrectly referred to as the Nobel Prize in Economics - - but neither the Nobel family nor Nobel Foundation has anything to do with this crud????

Feb 27, 2013

The author offers a readable chronicle of ancient and modern societies that have failed or overcome challenges. Most chapters end with hints on how its lessons might guide us today. In the final chapter he summarizes twelve factors that govern the success or failure of cultures. I felt that this wrap-up was weak - otherwise why did he feel the need to write the 5-page "what I can do" section at the back of the endnotes? Finally, I found it shocking that Diamond approves of locally "environment-friendly" fossil fuel extraction but appears to overlook the greenhouse gas emissions that have global survival implications! Puzzling. This long-winded, 550-page book needed a good copy editor to pare it down to 300-pages.

Aug 07, 2012

The third of the trilogy that also comprises "The Third Chimpanzee" and "Guns, Germs, and Steel" (and the best one of three extraordinary books, in my opinion); racy style, as in all of Diamond's writing, that allows you to read sophisticated science like a thriller - and learn everything you need to know about the world at the same time!

Dec 30, 2011


Mar 26, 2011

Environment is the root of all problems... short on ideas on how to solve them. Usual complaints (to many people, not enough consideration of the environment)

Good history and analysis of societies that have failed and environment was a contributing factor (Jared claims it was a source for all failures, not just a contributing factor).
Left me with a "so what" after finishing.

Oct 20, 2008

the big picture stuff


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Nov 24, 2015

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