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Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed | [Jared Diamond]

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

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?
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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

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  •  
    Brett oxford, MS, USA 02-12-06
    Brett oxford, MS, USA 02-12-06 Member Since 2005
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    "Average"

    You can tell this guy is a big environmental apocalyptic. His points no doubt are interesting and well researched but he always comes to the conclusion that it is environmental damage that leads to collapse. Maybe early civilizations didn't have the technology or education to overcome these problems? Although he disputes that as well saying we should never think technology will solve our worries because it only creates more unforseen problems.
    He doesn't mention much about the effects of intellectuals and leaders in early civilizations either. You can't expect any population to survive with a uneducated mass that depends on the gods or mystical leaders for crops and rain.
    I also think he completely ignores modern civilizations problems. In the Middle East and Africa, the majority of people are uneducated and poor. These people could care less about their environment so of course they are going to wreck them. What keeps them in this state? It is there leaders, government or dictators. Their decisions, corruption and inaction wreak havoc on societies. How can you expect any socialist, communist or theocratic philosophy to sustain a population? Those people are completely dependent on their leaders and if the leaders are inept, they are doomed to fail.
    Interesting book but had to keep the caffiene pumping to get through it.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Silver Spring, MD, USA 11-02-05
    Robert Silver Spring, MD, USA 11-02-05 Member Since 2004
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    "Excellent"

    Brings very interesting ideas to how the world has been shaped. He cleary explains how the experiences and problems of past socities are directly related to today.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Diamond Bar, CA, USA 07-10-05
    Mark Diamond Bar, CA, USA 07-10-05
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    "Is there an abriged version?"

    Very well researched examples of past societies but too much detail and too long winded for me. I kept waiting for him to draw parallels to our current world or the present day USA and come up with examples of "how we are repeating our past, etc.. However, I never made it. I ended up putting it down. Maybe I'm a product of modern day fast food society but I think an editor or an abriged version might have been better for me. Gave it 3 stars because it is a nice history lesson, particularly with some insight to Rwanda.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cheryl Sylmar, CA, United States 05-29-07
    Cheryl Sylmar, CA, United States 05-29-07 Member Since 2005
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    "You will not see the world the same again"

    It started off a little slow but when you get into it your eyes are opened to seeing all life in a new way. I am going to listen to it for a second time because of the amount information was overwhelming. It has definitely made me rethink how I will live my life from this point on. Now I understand what they meant when they said that we are on an island called Earth. The stuff he talks about will affect all human life in the next 50 years. I see Earth's fragility everywhere now.

    0 of 4 people found this review helpful
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