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

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How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

by Jared Diamond

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  • First Published:
    Dec 2004, 575 pages
    Jan 2006, 592 pages

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About this Book

Print Excerpt

A substantial excerpt from the prologue follows the Index.


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


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
Differing visions
Attitudes towards regulation
Rick Laible's story
Chip Pigman's story
Tim Huls's story
John Cook's story
Montana, model of the world


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?
Easter as metaphor

Chapter 3: The Last People Alive: Pitcairn and Henderson Islands
Pitcairn before the Bounty
Three dissimilar islands
The movie's ending

Chapter 4: The Ancient Ones: The Anasazi and Their Neighbors
Desert farmers
Tree rings
Agricultural strategies
Chaco's problems and packrats
Regional integration
Chaco's decline and end
Chaco's message

Chapter 5: The Maya Collapses
Mysteries of lost cities
The Maya environment
Maya agriculture
Maya history
Complexities of collapses
Wars and droughts
Collapse in the southern lowlands
The Maya message

Chapter 6: The Viking Prelude and Fugues
Experiments in the Atlantic
The Viking explosion
Viking agriculture
Viking chiefs
Viking religion
Orkneys, Shetlands, Faeroes
Iceland's environment
Iceland's history
Iceland in context

Chapter 7: Norse Greenland's Flowering 211
Europe's outpost
Greenland's climate today
Climate in the past
Native plants and animals
Norse settlement
Hunting and fishing
An integrated economy
Trade with Europe

Chapter 8: Norse Greenland's End
Introduction to the end
Soil and turf damage
The Inuit's predecessors
Inuit subsistence
Inuit/Norse relations
The end
Ultimate causes of the end

Chapter 9 Opposite Paths to Success
Bottom up, top down
New Guinea highlands
Tokugawa problems
Tokugawa solutions
Why Japan succeeded
Other successes


Chapter 10: Malthus in Africa: Rwanda's Genocide
A dilemma
Events in Rwanda
More than ethnic hatred
Buildup in Kanama
Explosion in Kanama
Why it happened

Chapter 11: One Island, Two Peoples, Two Histories: The Dominican Republic and Haiti
Causes of divergence
Dominican environmental impacts
The Dominican environment today
The future

Chapter 12: China, Lurching Giant
China's significance
Air, water, soil
Habitat, species, megaprojects
The future

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.

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