oregonreader_73, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by oregonreader_73)
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed is a great follow up to Guns, Germs, and Steel. Of course the stories of how various civilizations, both large and small, throughout history failed are very interesting, but it's also fascinating to learn how those civilizations grew to begin with. Any student of our planet's human and ecological history will enjoy this book.
mauney_mom, November 11, 2011 (view all comments by mauney_mom)
In his book, Diamond reviews societies that have failed like the Maya, Easter Island, and the Vikings. His theory that there are five points to a civilization collapsing is very interesting and he provides strong evidence to support his theory. He also looks at societies that are in danger of collapse, his views on China and Australia are eye-opening. Diamond's five points are very different from theories published by scholars such as Joseph Tainter in his "Complex society" but he provides the reader with enough data to make up our own minds as to what we think. This is a must read for anyone interested in where the United States will be in the future...and every politician who thinks they know how to solve our countries problems without having a clue what those problems are. Diamond's five points of civilization collapse can be applied to societies throughout history some have collapsed and some saw their problems and fixed them. With the trouble that is going on in Greece and Wall Street and Italy Diamond's theories become more valid.
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In this fascinating book, Diamond seeks to understand the fates of past societies that collapsed for ecological reasons, combining the most important policy debate of this generation with the romance and mystery of lost worlds.
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.
In Jared Diamondandrsquo;s follow-up to the Pulitzer-Prize winning Guns, Germs and Steel, the author explores how climate change, the population explosion and political discord create the conditions for the collapse of civilization
Environmental damage, climate change, globalization, rapid population growth, and unwise political choices were all factors in the demise of societies around the world, but some found solutions and persisted. As in Guns, Germs, and Steel, Diamond traces the fundamental pattern of catastrophe, and weaves an all-encompassing global thesis through a series of fascinating historical-cultural narratives. Collapse moves 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. 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 societyandrsquo;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?
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