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Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed is the glass-half-empty follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize-winning Guns, Germs, and Steel. While Guns, Germs, and Steel explained the geographic and environmental reasons why some human populations have flourished, Collapse uses the same factors to examine why ancient societies, including the Anasazi of the American Southwest and the Viking colonies of Greenland, as well as modern ones such as Rwanda, have fallen apart. Not every collapse has an environmental origin, but an eco-meltdown is often the main catalyst, he argues, particularly when combined with society's response to (or disregard for) the coming disaster. Still, right from the outset of Collapse, the author makes clear that this is not a mere environmentalist's diatribe. He begins by setting the book's main question in the small communities of present-day Montana as they face a decline in living standards and a depletion of natural resources. Once-vital mines now leak toxins into the soil, while prion diseases infect some deer and elk and older hydroelectric dams have become decrepit. On all these issues, and particularly with the hot-button topic of logging and wildfires, Diamond writes with equanimity.
Because he's addressing such significant issues within a vast span of time, Diamond can occasionally speak too briefly and assume too much, and at times his shorthand remarks may cause careful readers to raise an eyebrow. But in general, Diamond provides fine and well-reasoned historical examples, making the case that many times, economic and environmental concerns are one and the same. With Collapse, Diamond hopes to jog our collective memory to keep us from falling for false analogies or forgetting prior experiences, and thereby save us from potential devastations to come. While it might seem a stretch to use medieval Greenland and the Maya to convince a skeptic about the seriousness of global warming, it's exactly this type of cross-referencing that makes Collapse so compelling. --Jennifer Buckendorff --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
In the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Guns, Germs, and Steel, Diamond chronicled the rise of human civilizations since the Ice Age. This time, he turns over the log and probes the rotted side--the demise of once-productive societies such as the Maya, Easter Islanders and Greenland Norse. He also sounds the alarm on environmental practices undermining modern societies, including China, Russia, Australia and the United States. Narrator Murney has his work cut out for him, even though this audiobook is abridged. The narrative, which spans the globe and the ages, is dense, overwhelmingly so at times. Diamond parses myriad ecological, geographical and biological impacts, from weather patterns to deforestation to sperm count. But Murney rises to the occasion. His engagement never flags, and he strikes all the proper notes of concern and warning. The delivery feels effortless, his tone a blend of newsreel narrator and professor-at-the-lectern. Diamond teaches geography at UCLA, and his prose style, unsurprisingly, contains shades of the lecture hall. In fact, given such abundant and oft-alarming information, listeners may feel the urge to take notes for the final exam. Though grounding materials such as photographs and maps would have made this audiobook easier to follow, their absence is a minor fault in an overall fine production.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A very well developed explanation of why some societies succeed and others fail based upon five identifiable factors. Read morePublished 20 days ago by John Doyle
Ordered wrong book, but my wife loves it, delivery time was excellentPublished 12 months ago by Jim McDiarmid
You may well feel enervated after the long journey through the rich and dense material of this excellent book, however, the view from the top is certainly worth the effort. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Rosieriveter
If you're interested in where our civilization on earth is headed, and what we might do about it read this book.Published 17 months ago by Alex MacAulay
This book is a wealth of information. It is a long read but gripped me through the entire journey because of implications it has to our own nations and planet. Well worth it.Published 21 months ago by Rhea Darch
This book was recommended to me by my financial analyst. Jared Diamond does a thorough job of looking at a complex subject and breaking it down into clear, objective measurements. Read morePublished 21 months ago by MRMLEM
Enjoyed reading about the other parts of the world and how they have evolved. Enlightening to say the least. The things they don't teach you in school.Published 23 months ago by firstname.lastname@example.org
I read this book when first published then passed it on to a friend. I was very glad I choose to read it again. Read morePublished on April 2 2013 by bookweasel