Superlative review of the effects of the environment on societal failure or success. Non-partisan and sensitive to business as well as ecological concerns, Diamond examines the collapse of several ancient and modern societies and counsels our careful attention to the future. A must-read for any intelligent person concerned about our children's future world.
Well, I made it through, but I'd recommend "Guns, Germs and Steel" more than this. It sounded like a politically correct Geography professor (that's because he IS a politically correct Geography professor. He does have a lot of interesting examples that I hadn't considered before.
I read Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies back when everyone was reading it, and I really enjoyed it, although I remember skimming through a lot of Diamond's blah blah blah. Collapse was much the same.
I really, really enjoyed the parts where he talked about societies that have failed, completely disappearing off the map, and how archaeologists have pieced together the story of the collapse. If this book was simply a collection of those stories, I would probably have given it four or five stars. (The book would also have been about half the length.)
But Diamond's thesis is broad and sweeping, beginning with Montana and ending with Australia, and his endless list of causes and effects became monotonous. I skimmed through a lot of blah blah blah. In fact, I felt like there was more blah blah blah than in GG&S, but maybe my tolerance has decreased in the past decade or so.
A thought provoking book, and you will have plenty of time to think because this book is a bicep builder. Somewhat daunted when I picked it up to begin, it was hard to put down. It's a great read on numerous levels. If you like history, it's packed. If you enjoy sociology, there's plenty for you. If you are a student of or advocate for the environment, the information is enlightning. If you simply wonder about our world, Jared Diamond weaves information about the rise and fall of so many past cultures in "Collapse" (and not the ones most of us have learned about in school) into a tapestry of questions that really has a single common thread "survival is our choice, what choice will we make?" Not overly political, negative, or fanatical, it is sobering in its persepctive. Highly recommended read.
I picked this up in the airport for some travel-time reading. As seems to be typical with this genre, the author could only see to the end of his own nose. His theory about the collapse of societies is intriguing but by no means perfectly solid, yet he would leave you believing everyone else's ideas are worthless. Neat concept, but quite big-headed.