In his million-copy bestseller Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond
examined how andwhy Western civilizations developed the technologies and
immunities that allowed them to dominate much of the world. Now in this
brilliant companion volume, Diamond probes the other side of the equation: What
caused some of the great civilizations of the past to collapse into ruin, and
what can we learn from their fates?
As in Guns, Germs, and Steel, Diamond weaves an all-encompassing global thesis through a series of fascinating historical-cultural narratives. Moving 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, Diamond traces the fundamental pattern of catastrophe. Environmental damage, climate change, rapid population growth, and unwise political choices were all factors in the demise of these societies, but other societies found solutions and persisted. 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 society'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?
A substantial excerpt from the prologue follows the
Prologue A Tale of Two Farms
Collapses, past and present
A five-point framework
Businesses and the environment
The comparative method
Plan of the book
Part One: MODERN MONTANA
Chapter 1: Under Montana's Big Sky Stan Falkow's story
Montana and me
Why begin with Montana?
Montana's economic history
Native and non-native species
Attitudes towards regulation
Rick Laible's story
Chip Pigman's story
Tim Huls's story
John Cook's story
Montana, model of the world
Part Two: PAST SOCIETIES
Chapter 2: Twilight at Easter
The quarry's mysteries
Easter's geography and history
People and food
Chiefs, clans, and commoners
Platforms and statues
Carving, transporting, erecting
The vanished forest
Consequences for society
Europeans and explanations
Why was Easter fragile?
Diamond's bottom line is clear - for all our technology and electronic widgets, we are still bound to nature and reliant on it. As always, you can judge this book for yourself by reading a substantial excerpt at BookBrowse, which will give you an understanding of the book's overall premise sufficient to hold your own in conversation on the subject with most people!
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (462 words).
"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
Read the full text of Diamond's talk to The Edge Foundation - an interesting looking organization that 'seeks to promote inquiry into and discussion of intellectual, philosophical, artistic, and ...
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