Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail Or Succeed

Front Cover
Penguin, 2011 - History - 589 pages
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?
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jigarpatel - www.librarything.com

Collapse is a fitting work to accompany Guns, Germs, and Steel. Although not obvious from either the cover or the blurb, this book has a strong focus on environmental factors affecting societies; in ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nx74defiant - www.librarything.com

Very interesting, somethings I knew some I didn't. It starts out with how Montana is not self sufficient. He review how societies fell, the main reasons and how those who survived successfully adapted. Read full review

Contents

Under Montanas Big Sky
27
Twilight at Easter
79
The Last People Alive Pitcairn and Henderson Islands
120
The Ancient Ones The Anasazi and Their Neighbors
136
The Maya Collapses
157
The Viking Prelude and Fugues
178
Norse Greenlands Flowering
211
Norse Greenlands End
248
China Lurching Giant
358
Mining Australia
378
Why Do Some Societies Make Disastrous
419
Big Businesses and the Environment
441
The World as a Polder What Does It All Mean
486
Angkors Rise and Fall
526
Acknowledgments
541
Index
575

Opposite Paths to Success
277
Malthus in Africa Rwandas Genocide 3 11
311
One Island Two Peoples Two Histories
329
Illustration Credits
590
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About the author (2011)

Jared Diamond is a professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. He began his scientific career in physiology and expanded into evolutionary biology and biogeography. He has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. Among Dr. Diamond's many awards are the National Medal of Science, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, Japan's Cosmos Prize, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and the Lewis Thomas Prize honoring the Scientist as Poet, presented by Rockefeller University. He has published more than two hundred articles and his book Guns, Germs, and Steel, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
Look out for Jared Diamond's latest book, ""The World Until Yesterday"," coming from Viking in January 2013.

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