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1 Burnside Anthropology- General

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

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Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed Cover

ISBN13: 9780143036555
ISBN10: 0143036556
Condition: Ex-Library
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"I've set myself the modest task of trying to explain the broad pattern of human history, on all the continents, for the last 13,000 years. Why did history take such different evolutionary courses for peoples of different continents? This problem has fascinated me for a long time, but it's now ripe for a new synthesis because of recent advances in many fields seemingly remote from history, including molecular biology, plant and animal genetics and biogeography, archaeology, and linguistics." — Jared Diamond

Who has looked on the ancient Maya or classical Mediterranean cities and not wondered why they were abandoned? Or whether they hold a message for us? In this fascinating book, Jared Diamond seeks to understand the fates of past societies that collapsed for ecological reasons, combining the most important policy debate of our generation with the romance and mystery of lost worlds. Citizens of first world societies look around and tend not to see signs of imminent ecological collapse: the supermarkets are full of food; water gushes from our faucets; we live amidst trees and green grass. Actually, though, many past civilizations — with far smaller populations and less potent destructive technologies than those of today — have inadvertently committed ecological suicide: the Polynesian societies on Easter Island and other Pacific islands or the Anasazi civiliation, for example.

Ecocide asks why some societies make disastrous decisions, and how can we in the modern world learn better problem solving? Ecocide is an ecological history of human societies that considers why societies in some regions have been more vulnerable than those in other regions, and also compares the trajectories of pastcivilizations with likely trajectories of our own. Why did Greenland fail where Iceland succeeded? What links Rwanda and Australia? What can contemporary Montana learn from the ancient Mayans and modern Chinese?

Review:

"In his Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller Guns, Germs, and Steel, geographer Diamond laid out a grand view of the organic roots of human civilizations in flora, fauna, climate and geology. That vision takes on apocalyptic overtones in this fascinating comparative study of societies that have, sometimes fatally, undermined their own ecological foundations. Diamond examines storied examples of human economic and social collapse, and even extinction, including Easter Island, classical Mayan civilization and the Greenland Norse. He explores patterns of population growth, overfarming, overgrazing and overhunting, often abetted by drought, cold, rigid social mores and warfare, that lead inexorably to vicious circles of deforestation, erosion and starvation prompted by the disappearance of plant and animal food sources. Extending his treatment to contemporary environmental trouble spots, from Montana to China to Australia, he finds today's global, technologically advanced civilization very far from solving the problems that plagued primitive, isolated communities in the remote past. At times Diamond comes close to a counsel of despair when contemplating the environmental havoc engulfing our rapidly industrializing planet, but he holds out hope at examples of sustainability from highland New Guinea's age-old but highly diverse and efficient agriculture to Japan's rigorous program of forest protection and, less convincingly, in recent green consumerism initiatives. Diamond is a brilliant expositor of everything from anthropology to zoology, providing a lucid background of scientific lore to support a stimulating, incisive historical account of these many declines and falls. Readers will find his book an enthralling, and disturbing, reminder of the indissoluble links that bind humans to nature. Photos. Agents, John Brockman and Katinka Matson. Forecast: With a 12-city author tour and a 200,000-copy first printing, this BOMC main selection and History Book Club featured alternate is poised to compete with its ground-breaking predecessor." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Diamond casts his critical but acute and inclusive gaze on the issue of why civilizations fail to see collapse coming. A thought-provoking book containing not a single page of dense prose." Booklist

Review:

"[Collapse] may well become a seminal work....It will challenge and make you think — long after you have turned that last 500th-plus page." Robert S. Desowitz, Scientific American

Review:

"Mr. Diamond — who has academic training in physiology, geography and evolutionary biology — is a lucid writer with an ability to make arcane scientific concepts readily accessible to the lay reader, and his case studies of failed cultures are never less than compelling." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Review:

"In a world that celebrates live journalism, we are increasingly in need of big-picture authors like Jared Diamond....In his extraordinarily panoramic Collapse, he moves his wide lens to yet another telling phenomenon: failed nations, of both the distant and the recent past." Robert D. Kaplan, The Washington Post

Review:

"Though abuse of the environment is the common theme running through Collapse, the book is replete with other fascinating stories, a treasure trove of historical anecdotes....Any reader of Collapse will leave the book convinced that we must take steps now to save our planet." Boston Globe

Review:

"Taken together, Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse represent one of the most significant projects embarked upon by any intellectual of our generation. They are magnificent books: extraordinary in erudition and originality..." Gregg Easterbrook, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"Diamond's most influential gift may be his ability to write about geopolitical and environmental systems in ways that don't just educate and provoke, but entertain....Diamond vividly writes of countries in current decline..." Seattle Times

Review:

"In a book characterized by good writing, several chapters stand out....Diamond packs the book with plenty of examples of how hubris, racism and misplaced belief in cultural superiority lead to disaster." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Review:

"Macrohistory that leads to sweeping conclusions is unfashionable in 2005. That Diamond can be unfashionable, cerebral, unafraid of ridicule and a best-selling author in this sound-bite, video-game era is downright amazing." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Review:

"Perhaps Collapse will...do something to shake Americans out of their collective apathy. If not, it might at least help future generations understand what the person who cut down the last tree on the North American continent was thinking as he did it." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Collapse is an important book that raises profound and troubling questions. It's also a demanding book, densely packed with material and no light read. But Diamond writes well enough to make the journey enjoyable." Houston Chronicle

Review:

"For a writer of Diamond's stature and acclaim to produce such a frustrating book is a squandered opportunity and a waste of a precious resource." Minneapolis Star Tribune

Review:

"Diamond keeps his most important promise, providing a page-turner filled with well-patterned information for a thoughtful reader. Each tale is dramatic, like a novel about people careening toward hazards they ought to see, but willfully ignore." San Diego Union-Tribune

Synopsis:

Most of us take for granted the features of our modern society, from air travel and telecommunications to literacy and obesity. Yet for nearly all of its six million years of existence, human society had none of these things. While the gulf that divides us from our primitive ancestors may seem unbridgeably wide, we can glimpse much of our former lifestyle in those largely traditional societies still or recently in existence. Societies like those of the New Guinea Highlanders remind us that it was only yesterdayand#151;in evolutionary timeand#151;when everything changed and that we moderns still possess bodies and social practices often better adapted to traditional than to modern conditions.

The World Until Yesterday provides a mesmerizing firsthand picture of the human past as it had been for millions of yearsand#151;a past that has mostly vanishedand#151;and considers what the differences between that past and our present mean for our lives today.

This is Jared Diamondand#8217;s most personal book to date, as he draws extensively from his decades of field work in the Pacific islands, as well as evidence from Inuit, Amazonian Indians, Kalahari San people, and others. Diamond doesnand#8217;t romanticize traditional societiesand#151;after all, we are shocked by some of their practicesand#151;but he finds that their solutions to universal human problems such as child rearing, elder care, dispute resolution, risk, and physical fitness have much to teach us. A characteristically provocative, enlightening, and entertaining book, The World Until Yesterday will be essential and delightful reading.

and#160;

Synopsis:

Most of us take for granted the features of our modern society, from air travel and telecommunications to literacy and obesity. Yet for nearly all of its six million years of existence, human society had none of these things. While the gulf that divides us from our primitive ancestors may seem unbridgeably wide, we can glimpse much of our former lifestyle in those largely traditional societies still or recently in existence. Societies like those of the New Guinea Highlanders remind us that it was only yesterdayand#151;in evolutionary timeand#151;when everything changed and that we moderns still possess bodies and social practices often better adapted to traditional than to modern conditions.

The World Until Yesterday provides a mesmerizing firsthand picture of the human past as it had been for millions of yearsand#151;a past that has mostly vanishedand#151;and considers what the differences between that past and our present mean for our lives today.

This is Jared Diamondand#8217;s most personal book to date, as he draws extensively from his decades of field work in the Pacific islands, as well as evidence from Inuit, Amazonian Indians, Kalahari San people, and others. Diamond doesnand#8217;t romanticize traditional societiesand#151;after all, we are shocked by some of their practicesand#151;but he finds that their solutions to universal human problems such as child rearing, elder care, dispute resolution, risk, and physical fitness have much to teach us. A characteristically provocative, enlightening, and entertaining book, The World Until Yesterday will be essential and delightful reading.

and#160;

About the Author

Jared Diamond is a professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. Among Dr. Diamond's many awards are the National Medal of Science, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

westiebar, August 29, 2010 (view all comments by westiebar)
Pulitzer Prize author Jared Diamond has examined societies historically to see what made them succeed or fail.
Faced with world problems today, information from these civilizations may help us learn from their fates. James Robinson's comments on the book cover says it best--"An extraordinary synthesis of natural and social science brought to life by Jared Diamond's astonishing knowledge of history and nuances and natures of civilizations."

Don't be discouraged by the size of the book--560 pages. Once you start reading, you will be completly absorbed.

I recommend this book to anyone who is concerned about environmental damage, climate change, rapid population growth, unstable trade partners an threats from enemies of our culture. I would also recommend it as required reading for high school and college students.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
merlinsmom54, January 19, 2010 (view all comments by merlinsmom54)
This book should be required reading for all residents of the planet, particularly those that are considering increasing its population.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
nemo, August 16, 2008 (view all comments by nemo)
This book is not only impressive in its range of field and breadth of knowledge, but also in the depth of its concern and humanity. Very highly recommended.
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(11 of 22 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 4 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780143036555
Subtitle:
What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?
Author:
Diamond, Jared
Publisher:
Viking Adult
Subject:
Civilization
Subject:
Social change
Subject:
Historical geography
Subject:
Social history
Subject:
World - General
Subject:
World
Subject:
Environmental policy
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20121231
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
16-pg 4/c insert
Pages:
512
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Anthropology » General
History and Social Science » Anthropology » North America
History and Social Science » Western Civilization » General
History and Social Science » World History » Western Civilization
Reference » Science Reference » General

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.50 In Stock
Product details 512 pages Penguin Books - English 9780143036555 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In his Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller Guns, Germs, and Steel, geographer Diamond laid out a grand view of the organic roots of human civilizations in flora, fauna, climate and geology. That vision takes on apocalyptic overtones in this fascinating comparative study of societies that have, sometimes fatally, undermined their own ecological foundations. Diamond examines storied examples of human economic and social collapse, and even extinction, including Easter Island, classical Mayan civilization and the Greenland Norse. He explores patterns of population growth, overfarming, overgrazing and overhunting, often abetted by drought, cold, rigid social mores and warfare, that lead inexorably to vicious circles of deforestation, erosion and starvation prompted by the disappearance of plant and animal food sources. Extending his treatment to contemporary environmental trouble spots, from Montana to China to Australia, he finds today's global, technologically advanced civilization very far from solving the problems that plagued primitive, isolated communities in the remote past. At times Diamond comes close to a counsel of despair when contemplating the environmental havoc engulfing our rapidly industrializing planet, but he holds out hope at examples of sustainability from highland New Guinea's age-old but highly diverse and efficient agriculture to Japan's rigorous program of forest protection and, less convincingly, in recent green consumerism initiatives. Diamond is a brilliant expositor of everything from anthropology to zoology, providing a lucid background of scientific lore to support a stimulating, incisive historical account of these many declines and falls. Readers will find his book an enthralling, and disturbing, reminder of the indissoluble links that bind humans to nature. Photos. Agents, John Brockman and Katinka Matson. Forecast: With a 12-city author tour and a 200,000-copy first printing, this BOMC main selection and History Book Club featured alternate is poised to compete with its ground-breaking predecessor." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Diamond casts his critical but acute and inclusive gaze on the issue of why civilizations fail to see collapse coming. A thought-provoking book containing not a single page of dense prose."
"Review" by , "[Collapse] may well become a seminal work....It will challenge and make you think — long after you have turned that last 500th-plus page."
"Review" by , "Mr. Diamond — who has academic training in physiology, geography and evolutionary biology — is a lucid writer with an ability to make arcane scientific concepts readily accessible to the lay reader, and his case studies of failed cultures are never less than compelling."
"Review" by , "In a world that celebrates live journalism, we are increasingly in need of big-picture authors like Jared Diamond....In his extraordinarily panoramic Collapse, he moves his wide lens to yet another telling phenomenon: failed nations, of both the distant and the recent past."
"Review" by , "Though abuse of the environment is the common theme running through Collapse, the book is replete with other fascinating stories, a treasure trove of historical anecdotes....Any reader of Collapse will leave the book convinced that we must take steps now to save our planet."
"Review" by , "Taken together, Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse represent one of the most significant projects embarked upon by any intellectual of our generation. They are magnificent books: extraordinary in erudition and originality..."
"Review" by , "Diamond's most influential gift may be his ability to write about geopolitical and environmental systems in ways that don't just educate and provoke, but entertain....Diamond vividly writes of countries in current decline..."
"Review" by , "In a book characterized by good writing, several chapters stand out....Diamond packs the book with plenty of examples of how hubris, racism and misplaced belief in cultural superiority lead to disaster."
"Review" by , "Macrohistory that leads to sweeping conclusions is unfashionable in 2005. That Diamond can be unfashionable, cerebral, unafraid of ridicule and a best-selling author in this sound-bite, video-game era is downright amazing."
"Review" by , "Perhaps Collapse will...do something to shake Americans out of their collective apathy. If not, it might at least help future generations understand what the person who cut down the last tree on the North American continent was thinking as he did it."
"Review" by , "Collapse is an important book that raises profound and troubling questions. It's also a demanding book, densely packed with material and no light read. But Diamond writes well enough to make the journey enjoyable."
"Review" by , "For a writer of Diamond's stature and acclaim to produce such a frustrating book is a squandered opportunity and a waste of a precious resource."
"Review" by , "Diamond keeps his most important promise, providing a page-turner filled with well-patterned information for a thoughtful reader. Each tale is dramatic, like a novel about people careening toward hazards they ought to see, but willfully ignore."
"Synopsis" by ,
Most of us take for granted the features of our modern society, from air travel and telecommunications to literacy and obesity. Yet for nearly all of its six million years of existence, human society had none of these things. While the gulf that divides us from our primitive ancestors may seem unbridgeably wide, we can glimpse much of our former lifestyle in those largely traditional societies still or recently in existence. Societies like those of the New Guinea Highlanders remind us that it was only yesterdayand#151;in evolutionary timeand#151;when everything changed and that we moderns still possess bodies and social practices often better adapted to traditional than to modern conditions.

The World Until Yesterday provides a mesmerizing firsthand picture of the human past as it had been for millions of yearsand#151;a past that has mostly vanishedand#151;and considers what the differences between that past and our present mean for our lives today.

This is Jared Diamondand#8217;s most personal book to date, as he draws extensively from his decades of field work in the Pacific islands, as well as evidence from Inuit, Amazonian Indians, Kalahari San people, and others. Diamond doesnand#8217;t romanticize traditional societiesand#151;after all, we are shocked by some of their practicesand#151;but he finds that their solutions to universal human problems such as child rearing, elder care, dispute resolution, risk, and physical fitness have much to teach us. A characteristically provocative, enlightening, and entertaining book, The World Until Yesterday will be essential and delightful reading.

and#160;

"Synopsis" by ,
Most of us take for granted the features of our modern society, from air travel and telecommunications to literacy and obesity. Yet for nearly all of its six million years of existence, human society had none of these things. While the gulf that divides us from our primitive ancestors may seem unbridgeably wide, we can glimpse much of our former lifestyle in those largely traditional societies still or recently in existence. Societies like those of the New Guinea Highlanders remind us that it was only yesterdayand#151;in evolutionary timeand#151;when everything changed and that we moderns still possess bodies and social practices often better adapted to traditional than to modern conditions.

The World Until Yesterday provides a mesmerizing firsthand picture of the human past as it had been for millions of yearsand#151;a past that has mostly vanishedand#151;and considers what the differences between that past and our present mean for our lives today.

This is Jared Diamondand#8217;s most personal book to date, as he draws extensively from his decades of field work in the Pacific islands, as well as evidence from Inuit, Amazonian Indians, Kalahari San people, and others. Diamond doesnand#8217;t romanticize traditional societiesand#151;after all, we are shocked by some of their practicesand#151;but he finds that their solutions to universal human problems such as child rearing, elder care, dispute resolution, risk, and physical fitness have much to teach us. A characteristically provocative, enlightening, and entertaining book, The World Until Yesterday will be essential and delightful reading.

and#160;

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