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Collapse Audiobook

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

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Publisher's Summary

In his million-copy best seller 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?

©2004 Jared Diamond; (P)2004 Penguin Audio

What the Critics Say

"A thought-provoking book." (Booklist)
"An enthralling, and disturbing, reminder of the indissoluble links that bind humans to nature." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Patrick Ryan Washington, DC 01-18-06
    Patrick Ryan Washington, DC 01-18-06 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "amazingly comprehensive"

    He takes examples from throughout history showing us exactly how past societies destroyed themselves. His correlations to today's society are self explanitory and will motivate you to think about many of today's crises in a new light.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Todd Randall Kaiser 08-18-05 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I couldn't get through the 3 CD"

    I tried very hard to listen to this book because I found the subject interesting. But the author just beats the point to death and uses examples that have no sustance or meaning to the reader.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donald Philadelphia, PA, USA 04-07-05
    Donald Philadelphia, PA, USA 04-07-05
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    "Don't Play Around with Mother Nature"

    Inevitably the decline of various societies and civilizations has been connected with man's indiference to the natural world. COLLAPSE details the often unexpected effects on the environment of what may seem simple and harmless endeavors of man. We need to pay attention to the misteps of our forbears to avoid our own demise.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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    Jason Forest Hills, NY, USA 03-14-05
    Jason Forest Hills, NY, USA 03-14-05
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    "Collapse - A lesson in stewardship"

    I highly recommend Collapse. Jared Diamond delivers honesty, pessimism, and optimism when describing societies faced with problems in the present and the past. I hope that this book reaches a lot of people who do not know (but wish to know) how our collective actions can make or break our environment, and therefore our ultimate survival.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    S. Marie Honolulu, HI United States 03-06-05
    S. Marie Honolulu, HI United States 03-06-05 Member Since 2016

    S. Marie

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    "Humanity?s mistakes need not be its future."

    A grim, riveting and, at times, disturbing look at how environmental factors can destabilize society, this book urges us to learn from history in order to preserve ourselves and our future. I only wish it had been unabridged.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Philadelphia, PA, United States 11-05-07
    James Philadelphia, PA, United States 11-05-07 Member Since 2007
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    "Eh. Sad & Sad."

    If you're looking for insights into the fall of Rome, Greece or Persia, look elsewhere. If you want to hear about global warming, natural resources and mining contracts then buy this book. It's very well written, researched and edited. But it's also too thorough and sad enough to make one consider suicide. I got through the part about genocide in Rwanda and considered slitting my wrists.

    8 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    valim Purcellville, VA 01-28-07
    valim Purcellville, VA 01-28-07 Member Since 2004
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    "Pleasantly Surprised"

    I greatly feared starting this book. Quite frankly, I was worried I would feel thoroughly hopeless after the reading. I was pleasantly surprised by the author's engaging overview of past cultures, their mistakes and the outcomes.
    I appreciated the manner in which the author built our understanding of current peril while still offering hope for change. It is a galvanizing read.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Rochester, NY, USA 01-15-06
    James Rochester, NY, USA 01-15-06
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    "Simplistic"

    I agreed with everything Jared Diamond had to say about how societies collapse and how those relate to the fate of modern global and in particular US society. But I have a feeling that some of the chains of logic he constructed might be disputable, and I would like to hear the other side. There must be some reason the bad processes he talks about continue. Either they aren't that bad or there is a counter-argument that is very compelling. I would have liked to have been allowed to be exposed to that argument. For example, the de-forestation of Easter Island had to become an issue for the islanders well before it became irreversible. Why didn't they seek to do something about it. That would be the interesting topic to explore, because that is precisely where our society is now. We know we are on a path to destruction, why don't we travel another path?

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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    David newtown, PA, USA 07-26-05
    David newtown, PA, USA 07-26-05
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    "A relentless, pointless slog..."

    This book was an unremarkable diatribe about the impending end of civilization due to our lack of environmental stewardship. It was such a slog. The author pummels you with item after item describing the impending end of our ecosystems, often with no hope that we can stop it. The book is a luddites delight, cataloguing the evils of mining, chemicals, manufacturing and commercial agriculture; pretty much what sustains modern life. As usual, the author offers no viable alternatives or solutions, just an over done word canvass of our impending demise. I so wish he had said something useful.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tripp Southern 06-06-10 Member Since 2016

    Aging Gen-Xer. Umpteenth generation Southerner. IT professional. Devourer of audiobooks.

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    "Not really about Collapsing Societies"

    It should have been called "Collapse of some Pacific Islands and the Deforestation of a handful of other Places". That would be a much more descriptive title, but one less likely to sell books. I certainly would not have wasted the money on it if that had been it. Diamond really "phoned it in" on this one, which is sad. He is a real talent, or has been in the past, but this book is not in the class of "Guns, Germs and Steel".

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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