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Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  470 ratings  ·  93 reviews
A Bill Gates Summer Reading Pick
A "riveting and illuminating" (Yuval Noah Harari) new theory of how and why some nations recover from trauma and others don't, by the Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of the landmark bestsellers Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse.

In his international bestsellers Guns, Germs and Steel and Collapse, Jared Diamond transformed our understanding
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Little, Brown and Company
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3.79  · 
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 ·  470 ratings  ·  93 reviews

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Bill Gates
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I feel very lucky to work with my wife, and not just because I get to spend extra time with her. Melinda’s way of looking at the world makes me better at my job.

Jared Diamond says he owes the idea for his new book Upheaval to his wife, Marie Cohen, who’s a psychologist. Jared is already a polymath. Although he was trained in physiology, his books usually blend anthropology and history, and he’s a professor of geography. Add in Marie’s perspective, and you have the recipe for this discipline-bend
Jeffrey Keeten
”An example of presumed lack of models is provided by the U.S. today, for which belief in American exceptionalism translates into the widespread belief that the U.S. has nothing to learn from Canada and Western European democracies: not even from their solutions to issues that arise for every country, such as health care, education, immigration, prisons, and security in old age--issues about which most Americans are dissatisfied with our American solutions but still refuse to learn from Canadian ...more
Will Byrnes
There is a large body of research and anecdotal information, built up by therapists, about the resolution of personal crises. Could the resulting conclusions help us understand the resolution of national crises?
Successful coping with either external or internal pressures requires selective change. That’s as true of nations as of individuals. The key word here is “selective.” It’s neither possible nor desirable for individuals or nations to change comple
David Wineberg
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Diamond in the Rough

Albert Einstein spent the last half of his life trying to fit the universe into one elegant formula. He did not succeed. Jared Diamond is trying to do the same with national political crises in Upheaval. He has developed a list of 12 factors that show up in times of crisis at the nation level. The degree to which the nation deals with those factors (if at all) determines how successful it will likely be in dealing with it.

The book exists at three levels: the individual, the n
Randall Wallace
May 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book explains how six countries historically dealt with their own deep crisis and upheaval. Jared believes these six stories will help us solve any present or future U.S crisis or upheaval. He begins in Finland discussing the huge mobilization of Finns (1/6 of the population) and their fierce resistance against the Soviets which won them their freedom while other nearby nations weren’t so lucky. When the Soviets fought the Finns, eight Russians died for one Finn. Finland, Jared says, also w ...more
Megan Bell
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
In this follow-up to Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse, Jared Diamond shows how nations have overcome crises through methods individuals often practice in overcoming personal trauma. Through his historical study of Finland, Meiji Japan, Chile, Indonesia, Germany, and Australia and his examination of current crises facing Japan, the US, and the world, Diamond reveals how certain factors like honest self-appraisal and dealing with national failure can help predict resilience. This is a fascinati ...more
Stephen Yoder
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-read
Jared Diamond's framework for this book (Mapping the factors for individuals to successfully surmount personal crises to the greater context of nations successfully navigating crises) strikes me as a simple, brilliant move. For all the talk of needing more STEM education in our nation we need a few more million social workers to guide us all through the honest appraisal of our shortcomings & strengths so our nation can move past so many simultaneous crises.
Reading about how Japan, Finland, G
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Jared Diamond begins with how he has dealt with upheavals in his life and applies his strategies and those of others to nations. With this background, this he defines 12 principles that informed the successful responses of Norway, Japan, Chile, Indonesia, Germany and Australia in times of national crisis. The book concludes with the application of these principles to the issues now facing Japan, the US and the world.

Diamond selected the countries because he had lived in them and had some familia
Dan Graser
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This third work in Jared Diamond's monumental trilogy that began with, "Guns, Germs, and Steel," and, "Collapse," is both an historical analysis of nations' responses before, during, and after going through periods of crises/upheavals, as well as a very impassioned cri de coeur centering on the most fundamental concept of history writing: that being we should learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others to forestall similar and worse outcomes in our own futures. Though opinion has been mix ...more
May 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
There is just nothing new or noteworthy in this book. There is not a coherent theory of crisis, just a few bullet point lists of things these countries have in common, which is really a stretch. Some of the history was interesting, but if you want history, best go elsewhere. A lot of his nuggets of wisdom come with sources such as "my friend who is Japanese" or "a friend who is Chilean." I read the entire book and have no idea what the thesis is even supposed to be.
Jun 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I have read Diamond's earlier book Guns, Germs, and Steel and most of Collapse. I was curious about the theme of Upheaval.

I enjoyed reading Diamond's narrative histories of the countries he concentrates on: Finland, Japan, Chile, Germany, Indonesia, and Australia. Especially, I was interested in Finland because my family hosted a Finnish exchange student in 1969-70 when I was in high school and later my husband and I hosted her daughter. The same year I had a Finnish sister I was friends with th
Peter Mcloughlin
more like a collection of case studies on countries that faced crises and how they handled or mishandled them. Countries include Australia, Finland, Germany, Japan, Indonesia, Chile, and the US. Each had different problems or has different problems and had to address them in specific ways but they had a moment where they had to first recognize a crisis and handle it in a proper way. Some did others didn't.
Jukka Aakula
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good and actually entertaining book on how nations handle a crisis.

Also, Finland was discussed widely. The so-called Finlandization policy was discussed as a reaction of a mature nation to the crisis of 1939 - 1944.

However, I disagree on one point. Finland did not start to handle the problem of Russia first after world war two. The Finlandization policy was not the first successful and mature trial to handle the problem Russia.

Instead what happened in the 20ies and 30ies was the following
Laura Trombley
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Upheaval" begins by defining personal crises and how to best survive, move on, and then thrive after resolution. Looking to successful models for resolution as well as "building a fence" around the problem area, honest self-analysis, retaining what is working and replacing or fixing the problem areas are all needed steps for a successful resolution. He moves on to outline national crises and their resolutions in Meiji Japan, Indonesia, Chile of the Allende/Pinochet era, Germany after WW II, and ...more
Chris Leuchtenburg
May 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: world
I guess when you are smart enough to master six languages in your youth and publish two, thought-provoking and popular books, you can get anything published. Diamond skims along the surfaces of complex histories, never demonstrating the research and deep thinking that would justify his sweeping generalizations. I actually read the first few chapters carefully, refusing to believe that the author of Gun, Germs and Steel and Collapse could base this book on such shallow thinking. Skipping to the W ...more
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Starting with an analogy to individual crisis, Diamond argues that 12 factors determine how a nation responds to a crisis (mostly successfully; even the authoritarian coups he covers have their good sides, he thinks, especially since it’s unknowable whether you could’ve gotten the good—market-based economic reforms—without the bad, which does not seem like a reason to read history). The book did not cohere very well, but if you want capsule histories of big events in Chile, Japan, Indonesia, Fin ...more
May 28, 2019 rated it liked it
(3.5/5) Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis, is the latest history work by UCLA Professor Jared Diamond, best known for his books Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse (I’ve read and highly recommend the former). In this book, Professor Diamond explores how, throughout history, various nations have responded to “crises”, and what lessons we can learn from their experiences.

As a work of history, the first thing the reader will notice is the somewhat unconventional methodological approa
Joseph Langen
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The darkest places in hell are reserved for those
who maintain neutrality in times of moral crisis.

~Dante Alighieri~

I have been reading one book after another trying to make sense of where the world was, where it is now and where it is heading. I finally discovered Diamond’s new book. Now that I have finished reading it, I have a better context for understanding, individual people, nations and the world as well a framework in which to consider the challenges facing all of us. He begins by remind
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When was the last time you read a book by a scholarly intellectual that was not only scholarly but intrinsically entertaining? No, not entertaining in a droll sense but entertaining because each new topic captured your imagination and made you reexamine that topic in a new light. Jared Diamond is just such an author and he does it once again in this, his latest book. All of his books, that I've read, deal with the human condition, from the origin of the species to detailed analysis of human cult ...more
Our Daily Bread, The Future, and The Urine of the Earth

Please read this book. The operating system for planet Earth must be reinvented. You are smart. You know that already. Here is a voice with wisdom offering a gift of analysis, concern, and hope. In his life, Diamond tasted the urine of earth and found it sugary. He gives us his best treatment theories in a world still to invent insulin much less the better global operating system.

I remember hearing the term, “Historical Theory” as an underg
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, anthropology
For those of you familiar with Diamond's work, I think you will know in advance whether you will enjoy Upheaval. It is classic Diamond - a well written, narrative on the theme of nations dealing with crises, that eschews a more rigid research for the areas and topics in which one feels Diamond has especially close connections (think his descriptions of Montana in Collapse). The countries and points selected can feel like a bit of a disjointed mismatch - but they are united by Diamond's claim of ...more
May 24, 2019 rated it liked it
A quick read, and thought provoking. Despite Diamond saying the seven countries discussed in the book are the ones he's most familiar with, the discussions of them are mostly superficial and not particularly useful. I was actually annoyed by the Chile discussion, where he wrote something to the effect of "no-one knows why Pinochet was so brutal" but a mere page or two earlier he quotes the frequent pre-coup graffiti "Yakarta Viene", indicating that the Chilean Junta & Pinochet were openly us ...more
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
LOVED the chapter on Finland - learnt some amazing things about how the Finns coped with both the Soviets and the German's banging on their borders. What incredible bravery and ingenuity they showed, adapting at every turn. I also found the chapters on Germany, Japan and Australia fascinating, especially since, being an Australian I was quite curious as to why our country was even included in a book about upheavals (as Diamond predicted most Australians would feel.)
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is fantastic. I highly recommend this for anyone who is concerned about the US and the world. It helps put things in perspective: nations have experiences crises again and again, and have sometimes responded constructively and sometimes responded in ways they later regret. I see the future of the US and the world as one of dealing with crises, and it's extremely interesting to me to understand what to expect, and what to hope for. Much like Jared's other books, this one really makes yo ...more
Benjamin Eakin
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Detailed and frightening look at what's going on in the world and the likelihood that we as a nation will recognize and do something about our problems. Using examples from a number of other nations, Diamond shows how each nation did or did not voluntarily find solutions to problems for a nation as a whole. Would recommend this book.
Upheaval has grand historical narratives but a weak framework. The book’s most vulnerable parts are where the author discusses current affairs (which is nearly half of the book). They appear like any regular person’s views on what is ailing the world with a bunch of broad recommendations without any basis. The remedies offered are not only unoriginal but also without much connections to the lessons drawn in the previous sections.

The book’s best parts are the chapters narrating the tumultuous tim
Richard Thompson
Jun 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
I may be done with Jared Diamond after this book. I loved Guns, Germs & Steel, enjoyed, but thought less of Collapse, and have had my fill with Upheaval. I do not like his method or his framework, though I share most of his basic point of view. It is frustrating to agree with an author in his conclusions, but not the pathway that brings him to them. I have much the same reaction to Yuval Harari. My point of view has evolved since I read Guns, Germs & Steel, so I might not like that book ...more
Jerry Baird
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jared Diamond is one of our greatest historians on the boomer generation. After finishing his third book of the trilogy, Guns, Germs & Steel (Pulitzer Prize), Collapse and now Upheaval. I found myself in awe of his understanding of democracy and the major difference across the world today of how democracy is working. Two insights hit me hard about American today. #1 is that Inequality in the US is the worst of all democracies in the world today. The share of unadjusted national income earned ...more
Ocean Gebhardt
May 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: econ, history
This was an extremely interesting book, although I'm not sure how useful it is. It is a review of the recent history of 7 countries that Diamond has some connection, experience, or ties with. The countries were Finland (extremely interesting to me, given how little I knew of their recent history), Japan, Chile, Germany (also interesting, given how much I thought I already knew), Indonesia, Australia, and the United States.

To his credit, he does mention, in the final chapter, that a quantitative
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Jared Diamond is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Guns, Germs, and Steel. He is Professor of Geography at UCLA and has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He has dedicated this book to his sons and future generations.
“Finland’s crisis (Chapter 2) exploded with the Soviet Union’s massive attack upon Finland on November 30, 1939. In the resulting Winter War, Finland was virtually abandoned by all of its potential allies and sustained heavy losses, but nevertheless succeeded in preserving its independence against the Soviet Union, whose population outnumbered Finland’s by 40 to 1. I spent a summer in Finland 20 years later, hosted by veterans and widows and orphans of the Winter War. The war’s legacy was conspicuous selective change that made Finland an unprecedented mosaic, a mixture of contrasting elements: an affluent small liberal democracy, pursuing a foreign policy of doing everything possible to earn the trust of the impoverished giant reactionary Soviet dictatorship. That policy was considered shameful and denounced as “Finlandization” by many non-Finns who failed to understand the historical reasons for its adoption. One of the most intense moments of my summer in Finland unfolded when I ignorantly expressed similar views to a Winter War veteran, who replied by politely explaining to me the bitter lessons that Finns had learned from being denied help by other nations.” 3 likes
“It’s neither possible nor desirable for individuals or nations to change completely, and to discard everything of their former identities. The challenge, for nations as for individuals in crisis, is to figure out which parts of their identities are already functioning well and don’t need changing, and which parts are no longer working and do need changing.” 2 likes
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