Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared DiamondBrilliant, 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?
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 societys 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?
Why societies collapse - Jared Diamond
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
While the bulk of the book is concerned with the demise of these historical civilizations, Diamond also argues that humanity collectively faces, on a much larger scale, many of the same issues, with possibly catastrophic near-future consequences to many of the world's populations. In the prologue, Jared Diamond summarizes his methodology in one paragraph:. This book employs the comparative method to understand societal collapses to which environmental problems contribute. My previous book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies , had applied the comparative method to the opposite problem: the differing rates of buildup of human societies on different continents over the last 13, years. In the present book focusing on collapses rather than buildups, I compare many past and present societies that differed with respect to environmental fragility, relations with neighbors, political institutions, and other "input" variables postulated to influence a society's stability.
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover.
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again.
Collapse guru Jared Diamond says we should heed the warning of the Greenland Vikings, whose record was nowhere near as good as their Minnesota namesakes. This is a complex subject., I think all of us have been interested, at one time or another, in the romantic mysteries of all those societies that collapsed, such as the classic Maya in the Yucatan, the Easter Islanders, the Anasazi, Fertile Crescent society, Angor Wat, Great Zimbabwe and so on. And within the last decade or two, archaeologists have shown us that there were environmental problems underlying many of these past collapses.
If you worry at night about the end of human civilization, pages of small type by Jared Diamond should be enough soporific to knock you out for a month of bedtimes. Diamond sets out to apply a "five-point framework" to ten example societies. The five factors he sees contributing to societal collapse are environmental damage, natural climate change, war, weakened allies, and the ways societies choose to respond to these pressures. The ten examples range incredibly widely, from the ancient Maya to medieval Japan to modern China and Montana. Diamond's breadth is awesome, but alas his thesis is so diffuse as to be useless: sometimes outside forces are too powerful, or people's responses too ineffective, so societies collapse.