Serene's Reviews > Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

Collapse by Jared Diamond
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's review
Jul 21, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: history-politics-and-sociology

I loved this book for all the detailed examples it gives of past societies who collapsed because they destroyed their natural environment. Many of the examples are of small, isolated societies, but I don't think that negates his point, as humans have never before been at a point where they've approached a global exhaustion of resources... He talks about larger, more integrated societies too, like rural Montana and China. It's amazing he continues to be an optimist that human beings might turn their behavior around (and he gives a few examples of societies who did just that.) It's a bit of a long read, but he presents his ideas in terms that any layperson can understand. It's still worth reading parts of this book even if you are unable to read all of it.

The biggest immediate impact this book had on me was on my continuing internal debate on whether to have a fourth child or be happy with the three that I have... I'd never taken overpopulation seriously, because I thought excessive consumption was really the main cause of global resource depletion. I still think it's the more important cause, but after reading Diamond's account of the Rwandan genocide, I've started to re-evaluate. He's also made me wonder about the Syrian landscape around me and how dry and treeless it is. Syrians are always talking about how "beautiful" America is and I always thought that was a case of "grass is greener" but after living here, I wonder if it's the mere fact that human impact has had thousands of years to accumulate in the Middle East, with the result that we have lost all our non-cultivated trees?

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message 1: by Gloria (new)

Gloria Baikauskas Serene, you have inspired me. I was at the bookstore this afternoon with my grandson. I wish I had seen your comments before I went there, so I might have picked up this book. I have seen Mr. Diamond's pieces on PBS television with great interest. Guess it is time I find my nose in his books.


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