• Collapse

  • How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
  • By: Jared Diamond
  • Narrated by: Christopher Murney
  • Length: 9 hrs and 34 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 02-03-05
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio
  • 4 out of 5 stars 4.0 (1,344 ratings)

Regular price: $24.50

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Publisher's Summary

In his million-copy best seller Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond examined how and why Western civilizations developed the technologies and immunities that allowed them to dominate much of the world. Now in this brilliant companion volume, Diamond probes the other side of the equation: what caused some of the great civilizations of the past to collapse into ruin, and what can we learn from their fates? As in Guns, Germs, and Steel, Diamond weaves an all-encompassing global thesis through a series of fascinating historical-cultural narratives. Moving from the Polynesian cultures on Easter Island to the flourishing American civilizations of the Anasazi and the Maya and finally to the doomed Viking colony on Greenland, Diamond traces the fundamental pattern of catastrophe. Environmental damage, climate change, rapid population growth, and unwise political choices were all factors in the demise of these societies, but other societies found solutions and persisted. Similar problems face us today and have already brought disaster to Rwanda and Haiti, even as China and Australia are trying to cope in innovative ways. Despite our own society's apparently inexhaustible wealth and unrivaled political power, ominous warning signs have begun to emerge even in ecologically robust areas like Montana.
Brilliant, illuminating, and immensely absorbing, Collapse is destined to take its place as one of the essential books of our time, raising the urgent question: how can our world best avoid committing ecological suicide?
©2004 Jared Diamond (P)2004 Penguin Audio
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Critic Reviews

"A thought-provoking book." (Booklist)
"An enthralling, and disturbing, reminder of the indissoluble links that bind humans to nature." (Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Rebecca on 04-11-05

an fascinating book, but better on paper

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.

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56 of 56 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Dan on 07-31-05

A Better Title: Environmental Collapses Then & Now

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.

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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