Collapse How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed: Revised Edition

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  • Edition: Revised
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2011-01-04
  • Publisher: Penguin Books

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In his runaway bestseller Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond brilliantly examined the circumstances that allowed Western civilizations to dominate much of the world. Now he probes the other side of the equation: What caused some of the great civilizations of the past to fall into ruin, and what can we learn from their fates? Using a vast historical and geographical perspective ranging from Easter Island and the Maya to Viking Greenland and modern Montana, Diamond traces a fundamental pattern of environmental catastrophe—one whose warning signs can be seen in our modern world and that we ignore at our peril. Blending the most recent scientific advances into a narrative that is impossible to put down, Collapse exposes the deepest mysteries of the past even as it offers hope for the future.

Diamond’s most influential gift may be his ability to write about geopolitical and environmental systems in ways that don’t just educate and provoke, but entertain.” -The Seattle Times

“Extremely persuasive . . . replete with fascinating stories, a treasure trove of historical anecdotes and haunting statistics.” -The Boston Globe

“Extraordinary in erudition and originality, compelling in its ability to relate the digitized pandemonium of the present to the hushed agrarian sunrises of the far past.” -The New York Times Book Review

Author Biography

Jared Diamond is a professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. He began his scientific career in physiology and expanded into evolutionary biology and biogeography. He has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. Among Dr. Diamond’s many awards are the National Medal of Science, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, Japan's Cosmos Prize, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and the Lewis Thomas Prize honoring the Scientist as Poet, presented by Rockefeller University. He has published more than two hundred articles and his book Guns, Germs, and Steel, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

Look out for Jared Diamond's latest book, The World Until Yesterday, coming from Viking in January 2013.

Table of Contents

List of Mapsp. xiii
Prologue: A Tale of Two Farmsp. 1
Two farms
Collapses, past and present
Vanished Edens?
A five-point framework
Businesses and the environment
The comparative method
Plan of the book
Modern Montanap. 25
Under Montana's Big Skyp. 27
Stan Falkow's story
Montana and me
Why begin with Montana?
Montana's economic history
Native and non-native species
Differing visions
Attitudes towards regulation
Rick Laible's story
Chip Pigman's story
Tim Huls's story
John Cooks story
Montana, model of the world
Past Societiesp. 77
Twilight at Easterp. 79
The quarry's mysteries
Easter's geography and history
People and food
Chiefs, clans, and commoners
Platforms and statues
Carving, transporting, erecting
The vanished forest
Consequences for society
Europeans and explanations
Why was Easter fragile?
Easter as metaphor
The Last People Alive: Pitcairn and Henderson Islandsp. 120
Pitcairn before the Bounty
Three dissimilar islands
The movie's ending
The Ancient Ones: The Anasazi and Their Neighborsp. 136
Desert farmers
Tree rings
Agricultural strategies
Chaco's problems and packrats
Regional integration
Chaco's decline and end
Chaco's message
The Maya Collapsesp. 157
Mysteries of lost cities
The Maya environment
Maya agriculture
Maya history
Complexities of collapses
Wars and droughts
Collapse in the southern lowlands
The Maya message
The Viking Prelude and Fuguesp. 178
Experiments in the Atlantic
The Viking explosion
Viking agriculture
Viking chiefs
Viking religion
Orkneys, Shetlands, Faeroes
Iceland's environment
Iceland's history
Iceland in context
Norse Greenland's Floweringp. 211
Europe's outpost
Greenland's climate today
Climate in the past
Native plants and animals
Norse settlement
Hunting and fishing
An integrated economy
Trade with Europe
Norse Greenland's Endp. 248
Introduction to the end
Soil and turf damage
The Inuit's predecessors
Inuit subsistence
Inuit/Norse relations
The end
Ultimate causes of the end
Opposite Paths to Successp. 277
Bottom up, top down
New Guinea highlands
Tokugawa problems
Tokugawa solutions
Why Japan succeeded
Other successes
Modern Societiesp. 309
Malthus in Africa: Rwanda's Genocidep. 311
A dilemma
Events in Rwanda
More than ethnic hatred
Buildup in Kanama
Explosion in Kanama
Why it happened
One Island, Two Peoples, Two Histories: The Dominican Republic and Haitip. 329
Causes of divergence
Dominican environmental impacts
The Dominican environment today
The future
China, Lurching Giantp. 358
China's significance
Air, water, soil
Habitat, species, megaprojects
The future
ôMiningö Australiap. 378
Australia's significance
Early history
Imported values
Trade and immigration
Land degradation
Other environmental problems
Signs of hope and change
Practical Lessonsp. 417
Why Do Some Societies Make Disastrous Decisions?p. 419
Road map for success
Failure to anticipate
Failure to perceive
Rational bad behavior
Disastrous values
Other irrational failures
Unsuccessful solutions
Signs of hope
Big Businesses and the Environment: Different Conditions, Different Outcomesp. 441
Resource extraction
Two oil fields
Oil company motives
Hardrock mining operations
Mining company motives
Differences among mining companies
The logging industry
Forest Stewardship Council
The seafood industry
Businesses and the public
The World as a Polder: What Does It All Mean to Us Today?p. 486
The most serious problems
If we don't solve them...
Life in Los Angeles
One-liner objections
The past and the present
Reasons for hope
Afterword: Angkor's Rise and Fallp. 526
Questions about Angkor
Angkor's environment
Angkor's rise
The great city
Magnificent engineering
Angkor's decline
Acknowledgmentsp. 540
Further Readingsp. 543
Indexp. 575
Illustration Creditsp. 590
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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