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5.0 out of 5 stars This book is so important
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 3 months ago by Rhea Darch

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars boring, but worth a read if you don't know this stuff
This is a good book if you don't already realize that we're screwing ourselves as a species. If this describes you, then read this book. It is methodical, it makes a strong case, and it doesn't degenerate into rhetoric like lots of environmentally themed books. Diamond does not present an Ehrlich-like appocalypitic certainty-he is generous enough, and...
Published on March 14 2006 by coastalslacker


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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars boring, but worth a read if you don't know this stuff, March 14 2006
This is a good book if you don't already realize that we're screwing ourselves as a species. If this describes you, then read this book. It is methodical, it makes a strong case, and it doesn't degenerate into rhetoric like lots of environmentally themed books. Diamond does not present an Ehrlich-like appocalypitic certainty-he is generous enough, and confident enough in human beings' resourcefullness, to give us even odds. This is nice, because, while I do believe we're hooped if we don't change, I do believe we CAN change, and alot of popular books on this subject always just tell us we're done like dinner.
For fans of Guns, Germs and Steel, don't expect this book to be anywhere near as good. If you are an environmentally-minded person and have done some reading on the subject, don't expect to take a whole lot of new, relevant, information from this book. It is pretty damn boring. By making his case methodically, step-by-step, Diamond bored me to tears (especially in the early going). It is important that he makes his case in this manner, to close the loop-holes for lunatic right-wing economists, but from a literary point of view it is a terrible read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately, disappointing, Dec 25 2009
I first heard about this book by hearing someone say that it was "genius." It's certainly not, but it's worth a read anyway... at least the first 3/4.

I'm not overly interested in environmentalism -- I read this book primarily for the narratives and analyses of the ancient and recent societies that collapsed. The book is, after all, called "Collapse."

Collapse starts off very strongly. It gives a nice description of what constitutes a collapse and explains how history should be studied like a science. His intro chapter on Montana basically sets the tone for the next 13 chapters of the book, which are interesting for the most part, although sometimes redundant. His analyses of past and modern societies are insightful and exhibit a comprehensive knowledge of history... too bad he didn't stop there.

The last section is called "Pracical Lessons." After reading the previous chapters, I was pretty pumped for this part, as Diamond is obviously a vary smart man (not that his biases don't show at times). Unfortunately, without the use of a storyline to present his thoughts, as in the previous chapters, his writing derails and becomes extremely dry... almost unbearable to read. I reduced myself to generous skimming because he really presents nothing new; the average reader should be smart enought to extend what he was saying in the historical examples to modern society.

Thus, I'm not sure that I would reccommend this book. If it's history you're looking for, there are better books, and I'm sure the same goes if you're looking for a book on environmental issues. The book really doesn't work well as a hybrid; the last section doesn't flow with the first three. I would suggest reading only a few chapters... say, the ones on Easter Island, the Anasazi, Rwanda, and Australia. These are very good, but the rest is really redundancy.

My suggestion: get this from the library, read 4 or 5 chapters, and don't waste your time and money on the rest.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This book is so important, Jan. 3 2014
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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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Analysis, Dec 20 2013
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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. My background is technical; my wife is a linguist and we both enjoyed and appreciated the book. We recommend it to anyone who thinks about processes in society.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting View on Society, Oct. 29 2013
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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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A re-read and glad I did., April 2 2013
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bookweasel (Calgary AB) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed: Revised Edition (Paperback)
I read this book when first published then passed it on to a friend. I was very glad I choose to read it again. Diamond studies modern Montana and several older societies to resolve the title. The resolution is basically the folly and lack of diligence of man and it is most interesting to see how this comes about. A provoking book and a must read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Do We Have A Future?, July 13 2012
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Dave_42 "Dave_42" (Australia) - See all my reviews
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"Collapse: How Societies Choose To Fail Or Survive" by Jared Diamond is the follow-up to his excellent "Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies". Published in 2005, after an eight year gap, Diamond discusses how this book is using the same comparative method to understanding the end of societies, that the previous work applied to the creation of societies.

While I didn't find this book as absorbing as his previous work, there is still a lot to recommend "Collapse" to readers who are interested in history, sociology, or various other areas of humanities. Diamond puts forward the idea that the causes of societal collapse in the past have been attributed to one or more of eight factors: ("deforestation and habitat destruction, soil problems (erosion, salinization, and soil fertility losses), water management problems, overhunting, overfishing, effects of introduced species on native species, human population growth, and increased per-capita impact of people." To these he adds four more as dangers to modern societies. These include: "human-caused climate change, buildup of toxic chemicals in the environment, energy shortages, and full human utilization of the Earth's photosynthetic capacity." While it is easy to agree with these, it doesn't have to be human-caused for climate change to have a negative impact on a society.

The book is divided into four parts, the first being a relatively short discussion of the environment in Montana, chosen because of Diamond's personal experience with the area, as discussed in this section. As he does throughout the rest of the book, he discusses which of the twelve factors he are potential problems for that area of the country.

Part two covers past societies which have "collapsed". In this section Diamond looks at the Greenland Norse, Easter Island, Pitcairn Island, the Anasazi, and the Maya. Diamond also looks at three past societies which were successes, such as Tikopia, central New Guinea, and the forest management during the Tokugawa-era in Japan. There is a bit of controversy regarding Diamond's discussion of Easter Island where critics point out that there were factors such as disease (brought from Europe), slave raiding, and animals introduced into the environment that contributed to the decline of the society and the loss of the native trees and plants and not simply the society that was there that deforested the island.

Part three looks at current societies which are in danger of causing their own collapse. These include Rwanda, where he looks at overpopulation; Haiti, especially when compared to the relative success of neighboring Dominican Republic; China as a developing nation; and Australia as an industrial developed nation, and in particular the effect of mining.

Part four is titled "Practical Lessons" and here Diamond looks at why societies make decisions that lead to disaster. He then looks at business, and how some businesses avoided their environmental responsibilities, and how some are now doing the right thing. He then concludes with a summary of the most serious problems we have, and what will happen if we don't solve them, but he also gives us some reasons to hope.

"Collapse" is very readable, and though it doesn't match his best, that is not a particularly severe criticism. Nor is it surprising when dealing with the subject of why societies collapse that there may be controversy in some of the proposed conclusions. What is important is that the author present their case in a reasonable and logical fashion, and Jared Diamond does that very well.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating, April 7 2006
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Sancho Mahle (Charlotte, USA) - See all my reviews
In Collapse, Jared Diamond has successfully examined the thousands of year of human history, by evaluating many of the great civilizations that went extinct due to their inability to recognize the limits of their resources and the strength of the forces of nature. The failures of those ancient and modern societies especially in Africa and Asia, as well the Easter Island and Greenland stemmed from the fact that they were compromised by their environment through disasters that were either natural or induced.
In this well-researched book, Diamond wrote of eco-disasters and the depletion of environmental resources through unsustainable measures as the principal causes of the demise of those societies. Not only that, he mentioned some societies that that have solved their ecological problems and succeeded. Nevertheless, the overriding point Diamond made is that in this age of globalization, societies must take collective actions to avoid the collapse of the world's highly interdependent global economy, since it is fast approaching its unsustainable level. This book is a wake up call for the world to develop sustainable sources of energy that does not compromise the environment. Hydrogen cars, solar energy etc should be things for the immediate tomorrow.
The lesson is clear. Those societies that can adapt their ways of life to be in line with the potentials of their environment last while those societies that abuse their resources ultimate commit suicide, and so fail. Now, for the first time in human history, modern technology, global interdependence and international cooperation have provided us with the means and opportunity to judiciously use our resource and prevent their depletion not only from a small scale, but from a global scale as well. It is only by harnessing this new knowledge to sustain our planet, that we shall avoid the fate of self-destruction, like several great societies before us. Also recommended: UNION MOUJIK,OVERSHOOT, DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE, FREAKANOMICS, TRIPLE AGENT DOUBLE CROSS . I like reading deep and moving books
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My 100-word book review, Sept. 14 2006
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Collapse is a thoroughly researched and fascinating book offering reasons why civilisations have failed in the past. The Mayans, Easter Islanders and Greenland Norse each encountered complex problems that eventually became catastrophic. Jared Diamond offers no simplistic explanation but describes a number of causes, such as climate change, geography and psychological flaws, which can reinforce one another and lead to disaster. The author does not take an overly pro-environmental stance, recognising that industry has a vital role to play in protecting our world. He provides a salutary lesson from history that current and future generations would do well to heed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Measured Warning, Sept. 25 2007
It was a pleasant surprise that Collapse was not as depressing as I thought it could be. Despite its gloomy subject matter, Jared Diamond's sober and lucid analysis is more reassuring than frightening, providing a measured warning to readers.

Diamond uses the fascinating historical accounts of past societies (Easter Island, the Maya etc) to illustrate the common causes of societal failure, and repeatedly emphasizes the relevance of their demise to our current problems. (Perhaps a little too repeatedly as it is hard to miss the point.)

Discussions about modern societies are even more interesting. I did not know that population pressure was behind the genocide in Rwanda. I did not know that seemingly harmless rabbits are devastating Australian soils either (which is sad as it is not really rabbits' fault).

Diamond is also fair in recognizing the effort of some big businesses, along with government initiatives, in order to minimize environmental damage and develop sustainable resource management. If more companies follow suit and more governments consider environmental issues a priority, it would make a substantial difference. Surely this is not a new argument. However there is nothing wrong to remind us that, as consumers and society members, we can influence their decisions, if we choose to.

This book may be too simplified for specialists but is a good starting point for the public audience like myself. It definitely helped me understand inter-relations between environmental issues and social, economic, political conditions.
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