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Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or…

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005)

by Jared Diamond

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (127)  German (4)  French (2)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  All (137)
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Diamond's study chronicles the rise and collapse of societies both ancient and modern. Relying on both scientific studies and his own research, he draws heady conclusions on the self-destruction of assorted civilizations. Spanning from Easter Island to the Vikings of Greenland to the Anasazi of North America, among others, the text is panoramic in its scope, yet focused in its emphasis on environmental impact. While the history and analysis of a unique handpicked selection of societies is detailed and engaging, Diamond's environmentalist plug is heavy-handed towards the end and detracts from the rich histories of the civilizations represented. Regardless, an informative, rather ominous read. ( )
  GennaC | May 9, 2017 |
Jared Diamond had built up such a reputation for being incredibly knowledgeable on a broad range of topics that I looked forward to reading “Collapse”, especially as it became an enemy of the Australian Government of the day, who criticised some of the conclusions Diamond made in “Collapse” about the less than rosy future for Australia.

As it was, I instead got a lot of pages on fly-fishing; indeed I don’t think I can overestimate the coverage Diamond gives to fly-fishing. Anyway, it’s obvious that Diamond loves fly-fishing, while I do not and I was sorely tempted to either skip some pages or throw the book aside. Eventually, Diamond turns to topics like deforestation in Australia and Easter Island, and other matters of environmental devastation throughout the world, all of which were well written and sources of reflection for me. The only problem being that I had a lingering concern that I would turn the page and be faced with more fly-fishing to wade through. ( )
  MiaCulpa | May 3, 2017 |
F Rd ( )
  Macbeth | Feb 24, 2017 |
Chronicle of the collapse of Civilizations., featuring Easter Island and Iceland ( )
  JackSweeney | Jan 9, 2017 |
I liked Guns, Germs, and Steel, but preferred Collapse because his arguments were better organized, and seemed more solid. (Except the odd time when he went off into fantasy, as in the case of the Dorset women--but at least he made it clear that he was just imagining.) I expected to be interested in the case studies of ancient civilizations, but was surprised to be drawn into the modern society and big business sections, too. I'm glad he tried to end on a "cautiously optimistic" note, because so much of the book was discouraging. Myself, I'm afraid I don't have very high hopes for being able to turn things around at this point.

I found Jared Diamond's website, which provides a bit of updated information. I read the earlier edition of the book, which did not include a section on Angkor. ( )
  SylviaC | Feb 20, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 127 (next | show all)
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, compelling in their ability to relate the digitized pandemonium of the present to the hushed agrarian sunrises of the far past. I read both thinking what literature might be like if every author knew so much, wrote so clearly and formed arguments with such care. All of which makes the two books exasperating, because both come to conclusions that are probably wrong.
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.
Human behaviour towards the ecosphere has become dysfunctional and now arguably threatens our own long-term security. The real problem is that the modern world remains in the sway of a dangerously illusory cultural myth. Like Lomborg, most governments and international agencies seem to believe that the human enterprise is somehow 'decoupling' from the environment, and so is poised for unlimited expansion. Jared Diamond's new book, Collapse, confronts this contradiction head-on. It is essential reading for anyone who is unafraid to be disillusioned if it means they can walk into the future with their eyes open.
added by hailelib | editNature, William Rees (Jan 6, 2005)
Diamond is at pains to stress the objectivity he has brought to bear on a sequence of collapse scenarios that often continue to generate serious controversy, and for the most part (until the final chapter) leaves it up to the reader to draw down any conclusions from these scenarios that may be relevant to our own societies today.

» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Diamond, Jaredprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eklöf, MargaretaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prichard, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command,
Tell that it's sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stampt on these lifeless things,
The hand that mockt them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

"Ozymandias," by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1817)
To Jack and Ann Hirschy, Jill Hirschy Eliel and John Eliel, Joyce Hirschy McDowell, Dick (1929-2003) and Margy Hirschy, and their fellow Montanans: guardians of Montana's big sky
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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.
Information from the Spanish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Aquellos desmoronamientos del pasado tenían tendencia a seguir cursos en cierto modo similares que constituían variaciones sobre un mismo tema. El aumento de población obligaba a las personas a adoptar medios de producción agrícola intensivos (como el regadío, la duplicación de cosechas o el cultivo en terrazas) y a extender la agricultura de las tierras óptimas escogidas en primer lugar hacia tierras menos rentables con el fin de alimentar al creciente número de bocas hambrientas. Las prácticas no sostenibles desembocaban en el deterioro medioambiental de uno o más de los ocho tipos de acabamos de enumerar, lo cual significaba que había que abandonar de nuevo las tierras poco rentables.
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Five point framework: "environmental damage, climate change, hostile neighbors, friendly trade partners, and a society's responses to its environmental problems."

Contents: Prologue : a tale of two farms -- pt. 1: Modern Montana. Under Montana's big sky -- pt. 2: Past societies. Twilight at Easter -- The last people alive : Pitcairn and Henderson Islands -- The ancient ones : the Anasazi and their neighbors -- The Maya collapses -- The Viking prelude and fugues -- Norse Greenland's flowering -- Norse Greenland's end -- Opposite paths to success -- pt. 3: Modern societies. Malthus in Africa : Rwanda's genocide -- One island, two peoples, two histories : the Dominican Republic and Haiti -- China, lurching giant -- "Mining" Australia -- pt. 4: Practical lessons. Why do some societies make disastrous decisions? -- Big businesses and the environment : different conditions, different outcomes -- The world as a polder : what does it all mean to us today?

Includes bibliographical references (p. [529]-560) and index.  Illustrated.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0143036556, Paperback)

Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed is the glass-half-empty follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize-winning Guns, Germs, and Steel. While Guns, Germs, and Steel explained the geographic and environmental reasons why some human populations have flourished, Collapse uses the same factors to examine why ancient societies, including the Anasazi of the American Southwest and the Viking colonies of Greenland, as well as modern ones such as Rwanda, have fallen apart. Not every collapse has an environmental origin, but an eco-meltdown is often the main catalyst, he argues, particularly when combined with society's response to (or disregard for) the coming disaster. Still, right from the outset of Collapse, the author makes clear that this is not a mere environmentalist's diatribe. He begins by setting the book's main question in the small communities of present-day Montana as they face a decline in living standards and a depletion of natural resources. Once-vital mines now leak toxins into the soil, while prion diseases infect some deer and elk and older hydroelectric dams have become decrepit. On all these issues, and particularly with the hot-button topic of logging and wildfires, Diamond writes with equanimity.

Because he's addressing such significant issues within a vast span of time, Diamond can occasionally speak too briefly and assume too much, and at times his shorthand remarks may cause careful readers to raise an eyebrow. But in general, Diamond provides fine and well-reasoned historical examples, making the case that many times, economic and environmental concerns are one and the same. With Collapse, Diamond hopes to jog our collective memory to keep us from falling for false analogies or forgetting prior experiences, and thereby save us from potential devastations to come. While it might seem a stretch to use medieval Greenland and the Maya to convince a skeptic about the seriousness of global warming, it's exactly this type of cross-referencing that makes Collapse so compelling. --Jennifer Buckendorff

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:49 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

What caused some of the great civilizations of the past to collapse into ruin, and what can we learn from their fates? Diamond weaves an all-encompassing global thesis through a series of historical-cultural narratives. Diamond traces a pattern of catastrophe, spelling out what happens when we squander our resources, when we ignore the signals our environment gives us.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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