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
"A thought-provoking book." (Booklist)
"An enthralling, and disturbing, reminder of the indissoluble links that bind humans to nature." (Publishers Weekly)
Good, critical science - every example of failed societies providess a great lesson in humility and the need for conservation and sustainability.
Maybe the book was hyped too much, but I found it disappointing. Unclear arguments, some general interesting themes, but by no means a ground-breaker. Hard to focus on paying attention. Others have liked it, not me.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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