Excerpt from Collapse by Jared Diamond, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Collapse

How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

By Jared Diamond

Collapse
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Dec 2004,
    575 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2006,
    592 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt



Chapter 13: "Mining" Australia
Australia's significance
Soils
Water
Distance
Early history
Imported values
Trade and immigration
Land degradation
Other environmental problems
Signs of hope and change



Part Four: PRACTICAL LESSONS

Chapter 14: Why Do Some Societies Make Disastrous Decisions?
Road map for success
Failure to anticipate
Failure to perceive
Rational bad behavior
Disastrous values
Other irrational failures
Unsuccessful solutions
Signs of hope


Chapter 15: Big Businesses and the Environment: Different Conditions, Different Outcomes
Resource extraction
Two oil fields
Oil company motives
Hardrock mining operations
Mining company motives
Differences among mining companies
The logging industry
Forest Stewardship Council
The seafood industry
Businesses and the public


Chapter 16: The World as a Polder: What Does It All Mean to Us Today?
Introduction
The most serious problems
If we don't solve them . . .
Life in Los Angeles
One-liner objections
The past and the present
Reasons for hope

Acknowledgments
Further Readings
Index
Illustration Credits


LIST OF MAPS
The World: Prehistoric, Historic, and Modern Societies
Contemporary Montana
The Pacific Ocean, the Pitcairn Islands, and Easter Island
The Pitcairn Islands
Anasazi Sites
Maya Sites
The Viking Expansion
Contemporary Hispaniola
Contemporary China
Contemporary Australia
Political Trouble Spots of the Modern World;
Environmental Trouble Spots of the Modern World





Prologue: A Tale of Two Farms
Two farms. Collapses, past and present. Vanished Edens? A five-point framework. Businesses and the environment. The comparative method. Plan of the book

A few summers ago I visited two dairy farms, Huls Farm and Gardar Farm, which despite being located thousands of miles apart were still remarkably similar in their strengths and vulnerabilities. Both were by far the largest, most prosperous, most technologically advanced farms in their respective districts. In particular, each was centered around a magnificent state-of-the-art barn for sheltering and milking cows. Those structures, both neatly divided into opposite-facing rows of cow stalls, dwarfed all other barns in the district. Both farms let their cows graze outdoors in lush pastures during the summer, produced their own hay to harvest in the late summer for feeding the cows through the winter, and increased their production of summer fodder and winter hay by irrigating their fields. The two farms were similar in area (a few square miles) and in barn size, Huls barn holding somewhat more cows than Gardar barn (200 vs. 165 cows, respectively). The owners of both farms were viewed as leaders of their respective societies. Both owners were deeply religious. Both farms were located in gorgeous natural settings that attract tourists from afar, with backdrops of high snow-capped mountains drained by streams teaming with fish, and sloping down to a famous river.

Those were the shared strengths of the two farms. As for their shared vulnerabilities, both lay in districts economically marginal for dairying, because their high northern latitudes meant a short summer growing season in which to produce pasture grass and hay. Because the climate was thus suboptimal even in good years, compared to dairy farms at lower latitudes, both farms were susceptible to being harmed by climate change, with drought or cold being the main concerns in the districts of Huls Farm or Gardar Farm respectively. Both districts lay far from population centers to which they could market their products, so that transportation costs and hazards placed them at a competitive disadvantage compared to more centrally located districts. The economies of both farms were hostage to forces beyond their owners' control, such as the changing affluence and tastes of their customers and neighbors. On a larger scale, the economies of the countries in which both farms lay rose and fell with the waxing and waning of threats from distant enemy societies.

From Collapse by Jared Diamond. Copyright Jared Diamond 2005. All rights reserved. No part of this book maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Pope and Mussolini
    The Pope and Mussolini
    by David I. Kertzer
    The Pope and Mussolini is a riveting account of the parallel rise to power of the authoritarian ...
  • Book Jacket: The Promise
    The Promise
    by Ann Weisgarber
    Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame, once wrote that "...all things ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Moon
    Black Moon
    by Kenneth Calhoun
    The popularity of book-turned-movie World War Z and television series The Walking Dead points to a ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Steady Running of the Hour

The Steady Running of the Hour

"Exciting, emotionally engaging and amibtious. I loved it!" - Kate Mosse

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I T T O A Eye

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.