Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
- What happened to the people who made the forlorn long-abandoned statues of Easter Island?
- What happened to the architects of the crumbling Maya pyramids?
- Will we go the same way, our skyscraper...more
The one my thoughts keep returning to is medieval Greenland, which Diamond discusses in a long and detailed chapter. Settled in the 11th century by Vikings originally from Norway...more
The real problem with Collapse isn't the research that goes into the thesis, or even the soundness of the thesis itself (though there are some qualms I have about how politically unstable Mongolia is or basing his analysis of cod fisheries on a single popular accun...more
So despite the headline-grabbing title, the author Jared Diamond - a cross between an Amish garden gnome and avuncular Glastonbury festival supremo if you go by his picture - tries its darndest to avoid...more
One question I've been wrestling with as I read, as I watch these societies move slightly past sustainability, as I read about societal collapse and the squandering of resources by the wealthy and then the inevitable cannibalism that always seems to show up in the last act, I keep asking myself how the environment became a "political issue." There's no question that environmental resources aren't infinite, yet it seems like the majority of people…or at least the loudest...more
1. Deforestation and loss of habitat
4. Soil degradation
5. Water management problems
6. Population growth
7. Increased per capita impact of people
8. Impact of non-native species
And now we face four more:
9. Human-caused climate change
10. The build up toxic waste
11. We're approaching the limits of the Earth's photosynthetic capacity
12. Energy shortages...more
I love Guns Germs and Steel more than anything, it changed how I look at history and people and society, so I dug into this one, particularly the Mayan part, with great excitement. And it doesn't disa...more
A masterwork, better even than Mr. Diamond's Pulitzer-winning Guns, Germs and Steel. Collapse bridges the gap between anthropology and environmentalism, and critically connects each with our own welfare, both collectively and a...more
Some very intriguing parts were the stories of collapse of vanished societies, as many have noted...more
Collapse is a sobering book, but I'm just jaded enough that after about the tenth analysis of pollen readings from core samples,...more
It will teach you more than you ever thought possible in one book. You will look at the world differently. It will expand your mind.
Author of The Light Who Shines
And just to be technically correct, this is not a review. It is a recommendation.
Environmental preservation or degradation,
The presence of friendly external trade partners,
The presence of external enemies, and finally,
That society's ability and willingness to respond to the previous four factors.
To develop his theory, Diamond discusses about a dozen different societies, past and present, which had experienced various combinations of troubles with the first four factors, and...more
On the side, I found the book very informative about the history of the societies. I particularly enjoy those about the Greenland's Norse(Viking). This book inspire me to expand my reading to those about archaeology and history.
One important lesson: ability and willingness to change core values (religious or secular) proved to be essent...more
A lot of what was in this book I already knew from my degree...more
This book goes on my guilt shelf because shortly after he got to China, I got too depressed to continue. It's also a bit heavy (literally) for subway reading, and returning to New York from California with it combined with the prospect of learning about China's impact on the environment was just too much for this reader.... So Col...more
Disaster tells the other side of the story, namely why some cultures and civilizations fail while others succeed. This is done through case studies such as a comparison of Viking Greenland (failure) to the Inuits (success) and V...more
I'm finally done! I know, nine weeks later...
For a specific rating, I would say the content is 4.5, readability is 3. This book is definitely worth reading, even if you don't plan on putting in the effort to thoroughly read each section. The section on ancient cultures if interesting, but his level of detail is not necessary to understanding the main points of his book. For example, I found myself slightly skimming the paragraphs describing precisely how sc...more
Honestly, if t...more
Collapse examines various societies throughout history that have collapsed (Easter Island, Pitcairn, the Maya, Anasazi, the Vikings/Norse in Greenland) and compares these to societies that faced similar conditions and yet succeeded (Japan, New Guinea Highlands, the Vikings/Norse in Iceland). Diamond identifies five...more
This is a heavy read, in every sense of that wo...more
Four or five stars for the first two-thirds. I loved learning about the resourceful, entertaining, and possibly suspect ways some archaeologists use to try to figure out how people lived a long long time ago, even when those people ended up virtually destroying themselves and leaving behind little else behind besides garbage -- people who, with no compasses, no longitude, and no ships, traveled vast distance...more
Are we doomed, or can the next generation save us from ecological suicide? UCLA geography professor Diamond's provocative, interdisciplinary picture of social decline paints a bleak vision of our future. He writes well, has done impressive research, and tells fascinating stories. Yet, his thesis failed to convince many critics. He connects his stories with common themes, but often draws tenuous links between past and present, especially given today's use of technology and global markets to help...more
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