Collapse

Collapse

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How societies choose to fail or succeed.

collapseFor anyone haunted by im­ages of Mayan ruins overtaken by Mesoameri­can jungles, or of pueblo fortresses perched in southwestern caverns, Col­lapse is the book to read. You’ll also need a high tolerance for summaries of archaeological research. Jared Dia­mond traces the decline and collapses of human societies around the world and throughout history due to mis­management of their environment and resources.

After cataloguing the failure of Vi­king settlements in Medieval Green­land, the Anasazi in the American southwest, and the Easter Islanders, Diamond turns his attention to mod­ern instances of both good and bad management of environmental re­sources. He explores the possibilities  of ecological collapse in Montana, China, Haiti and the Dominican Re­public, and Papua New Guinea.

In each of these cases, his message is clear: we get to choose our fate. Diamond explores the main human factors that determined which soci­eties failed or succeeded, listing fac­tors like alliances, trade partners, or the presence of hostile enemies. The comparison between the collapses of ancient civilizations and the choices being made in society today is clear, if a bit preachy. He is fair in presenting not just one path to either success or failure, though the road may be some­what wider to failure.

Diamond’s dogged insistence on detail and broad scope make this a thought-provoking and convicting read for anyone concerned with the shape our world is taking in terms of environmental responsibility.

Are we human or are we zombie?

Are we human or are we zombie?

Books of the bygone year

Books of the bygone year