How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

Book - 2005
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In his runaway bestseller "Guns, Germs, and Steel," Jared Diamond brilliantly examined the circumstances that allowed Western civilizations to dominate much of the world. Now he probes the other side of the equation: What caused some of the great civilizations of the past to fall into ruin, and what can we learn from their fates? Using a vast historical and geographical perspective ranging from Easter Island and the Maya to Viking Greenland and modern Montana, Diamond traces a fundamental pattern of environmental catastropheone whose warning signs can be seen in our modern world and that we ignore at our peril. Blending the most recent scientific advances into a narrative that is impossible to put down, "Collapse" exposes the deepest mysteries of the past even as it offers hope for the future. Diamonds most influential gift may be his ability to write about geopolitical and environmental systems in ways that dont just educate and provoke, but entertain. "The Seattle Times" Extremely persuasive . . . replete with fascinating stories, a treasure trove of historical anecdotes [and] haunting statistics. "The Boston Globe" Extraordinary in erudition and originality, compelling in [its] ability to relate the digitized pandemonium of the present to the hushed agrarian sunrises of the far past. "The New York Times Book Review"
Publisher: New York : Viking, 2005
ISBN: 9780143036555
Branch Call Number: History 304.28 Dia


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Mar 12, 2018

For an academic, Diamond has a very readable writing style. For anyone looking to understand his thesis, it is restated in various places within the book. The examples/case studies that he uses are fascinating. I think that the book is worth a read all the way through, as each example is captivating. If you do not want to commit to the entire book, however, just a pick a chapter or two that seem interesting; you'll get the points he's making.

Jan 23, 2018

A learned author writing in a readable manner offers many good insights into issues confronting our world society. He is apparently a moderate, stating a good point about the need for business and environmental need to be balanced and the role of the citizen in this (p. 484). GT

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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