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How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed




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Mitali Matthew wrote: "The main problem with this book is that if it doesn't his narrative of environmental causes, he ignores other collapses. "

That's the whole point of the book: to analyse societal collapses that have environmental causes. Nowhere does Diamond state that he's trying to cover all the societal collapses in history (which would be a much bigger undertaking).

It's a valid criticism if you disagree with the basic assumptions of the book, or the author's agenda, or whatever. But it's idiotic to criticise a book because it doesn't do something it never says it's trying to do.


Matthew If that's the guess, then it's questionable whether some of his choices for the book meet the descriptor "collapse". There were still some Mayan urban areas when the Spaniards arrived, for instance.

And he specifically emphasized crappy relations with neighbors as a reason for a collapse to happen, at least regarding the Nordic colonies in Greenland. As it is, the Western Roman collapse was very quick, happening as it did over a 80 year period(really, shorter than that since the Romans were still winning spectacular victories against invaders in battles like Châlons).

The fall of the Western Roman Empire absolutely was a rapid collapse, and being the biggest one in history, the only reason why he couldn't have mentioned it is because it didn't fit the environmental causes narrative he was trying to push.


message 17: by Hank (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hank Drews Matthew wrote: "The main problem with this book is that if it doesn't his narrative of environmental causes, he ignores other collapses.

He managed to completely ignore the biggest collapse in history, the fall ..."


I think his point is that decay and conquest dont fit the decripter "collapse"


Matthew The main problem with this book is that if it doesn't his narrative of environmental causes, he ignores other collapses.

He managed to completely ignore the biggest collapse in history, the fall of the (Western)Roman Empire...probably because there isn't a environmental factor you can just point to and go "see! they did it to themselves by ignoring the environment!"


Pankaj Goyal Martha wrote: "This is a must read for all people to understand our national problems at a deep level."

And this book should also interest the people who want to understand their past. Really a must read....


message 14: by Ted (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ted Smith The last tree on Easter Island may have died due to rodents or other natural causes, not because someone cut it down.


Stella Atrium Actually, I read Left to Tell following the recommendation from Hank. The story was helpful, but coached as part of the writer's faith.

My review is here:
http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


Pankaj Goyal A must read for all, especially for those who are trying to understand the past..........


message 11: by Hank (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hank Drews Too grievous? perhaps, depending on your sensitivity, but very redeeming when you consider the human spirit's will to survive and providence.


Stella Atrium Hank, I'll pick up Left to tell. Is it too grievous to read? I know the Rwanda crisis is ancient history now.


Harry A quite revealing study of the environmental history of the third planet from the sun; since the advent of a two legged creature's dominance.


Hank Drews Re:your Rwanda comment; have you read "Left to Tell" by Imaculata ______. That was an amazing story.


Stella Atrium I read this book a while back. The discussion of what happened in Rwanda was illuminating, if grievous. I always wondered how the genocide got started and what made it burn out.

Some part of Collapse can be skipped, especially the part about his childhood and the district where he grew up. This reads like a filler chapter, sorry.


Alvin Dulcan Reading this book freed me, because there is no way we can solve all of these problems. I will sing now like the grasshopper and dance when the endless winter comes.


Hank Drews Stewardship of resources and the impact of climate change are both clear messages of Collapse, as is the idea that societies rise and fail. I'm left believing we're destined to die off and leave this a lifeless planet unless we learn to burn water for fuel.


Michael T "What did the Easter Islander think when he was cutting down the last tree?"

G.G.G. is nowhere near as good as this.


message 3: by Lala (last edited Apr 01, 2011 05:02PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lala reads This is definitely a long read as it has lots of information. However, each chapter is a case study on a single society so you can choose to read only the case studies that interest you if you don't want to read the book entirely, although that is not recommend. I found Ch.2 on Easter Island most interesting and insightful as it is the society that is most similar to our global society now. Easter Island was an isolated island that used up all of its resources without any means for producing or conserving much like our global economy today- isolated Earth, away from all other planets and once our resources are all used up on Earth, how will we acquire more? Are we choosing the same fate as the Easter islanders or do we just need to be better informed in order to make better decisions? Everyone must read this book.
Thank you Jared Diamond!


Michael This is a long, dense book, but full of insight into past and current environmental challenges. Diamond has a repetitive writing style (as with his well-known "Guns, Germs and Steel") but clearly demonstrates the connection between a society's long-term survival/prosperity and its commitment to environmental stewardship. His chapters on current day China and Australia are particularly informative.


Martha This is a must read for all people to understand our national problems at a deep level.


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