How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed: Revised Edition
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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?
Look out for Jared Diamond's latest book, The World Until Yesterday, coming from Viking in January 2013.
Publishers Weekly Review
© Publishers Weekly
Great text, but lack of images is a killer
I'm only around the halfway point, reading, if you can imagine, on an iPhone. First, I will say that I really liked Guns, Germs, and Steel, and this book is just as entertaining and engaging. Jared Diamond does a great job at describing faraway and ancient cultures.
However, I've decided to review early because I'm extremely frustrated that there are almost no figures. The few that are present, mainly maps, appear to be poorly scaled jpegs, to the point that the text is fuzzy, almost illegible when zooming in. However, the worst part is when the text refers to images (plates) that are non-existent. For some chapters, like Easter Island, it is a real shame that the images are missing. While I'm a National Geographics buff who already has mental pictures of most of the mentioned societies, other people will be really confused about what's being described. It's ironic that the author/publisher chose to leave the illustration credits without leaving the illustrations!
I'm really upset because this is my first ever iBooks (or even ebook) purchase. I assumed this would be just like the paper version, but I was wrong. Now I'm hesitant to buy another ebook before looking at the reviews.
This book really opened my eyes to the ways in which societies - even well-meaning ones - can blind themselves to the necessary changes needed to long-term self-destructive behaviors. A fascinating read. I can see why it has negative reviews; a common reaction to hearing "hey, we're headed down a similar path here" is to get angry and try to ignore it.
An interesting theory on how former major civilizations eventually fell apart. A wide range of societies from different eras are looked at.
- Category: World
- Published: Jan 04, 2011
- Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
- Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
- Print Length: 608 Pages
- Language: English