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This book is clearly recognizable as coming from the same fine intellect as "Guns, Germs and Steel." However, it suffers from two problems unique to the audiobook format. The first problem is that the logic suffers somewhat from the abridgement. Even worse, as a scientist I found it very irritating not to be able to consult the figures, diagrams, and references that come with the paper copy of the book. I definitely recommend buying the hardcopy instead of the audiobook. However, the points that Jared Diamond makes in this book are so interesting and important, and are so well-illustrated with anecdotes about various cultures, that I have to say: if the audiobook version is the only way that you will read this book, than by all means buy it.
56 of 56 people found this review helpful
Diamond is indeed a good storyteller, but the content of the book was far more insular than I expected. The text could be more aptly titled: "Environmental Collapses of Society: Then & Now". This is a book about how misuse of environmental resources have led to the collapse of many past societies and how it threatens to do the same to our own society.
The two points that I found unsatisfactorily address were: 1) How applicable are past lessons about resource use and reliance from Easter Island and Viking Greenland to 1st world societies today? 2) What factors outside of our environmental reliance on dwindling resources may also contribute to 1st-world collapse in the modern age? The first question was dealt with quickly only via a straw man argument, while the later is not touched on at all.
That said, the book does provide interesting cultural history lessons, and its applicability to the third world today (as evidenced in the Hati and Rwanda examples) is compelling. Diamond also provides a interesting look at what economic factors contribute to certain industries being more or less environmentally responsible. This section was compelling, but too small a portion of the whole text in my opinion.
If you are looking for a book on the management of natural resources, or a look at several interesting historical cultures, I think you will enjoy this book. If, like me, you are looking for a more pragmatic discussion of the large problems threatening society today, you may want to pass.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful