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Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive Paperback – 30 Jun 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 110 customer reviews

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Frequently bought together

  • Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive
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  • Guns, Germs and Steel: A short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years
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  • The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?
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Product details

  • Paperback: 590 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (30 Jun. 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0241958687
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241958681
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

"Mr. Diamond...is a lucid writer with an ability to make arcane scientific concepts readiily accesible to the lay reader, and his case studies of failed cultures are never less than compelling." The New York Times

..".Collapse is a magisterial effort packed with insight and written with clarity and enthusiasm." Businessweek

"Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse represent one of the most significant projects embarked upon by any intellectual of our generation. They are magnificent books: extraordinary in erudition and originality, compelling in their ability to relate the digitized pandemonium of the present to the hushed agrarian sunrises of the far past. I read both thinking what literature might be like if every author knew so much, wrote so clearly and formed arguments with such care." Gregg Easterbrook, The New York Times Book Review

" --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.

From the Back Cover

"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 --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book for historical lessons on how past societies fail and survive.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
perfect
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A well written book which teaches a lot about past societies but the reasons given for optimism seem to focus on government mandated solutions, while it seems to me that many of the problems come from government interference in the first place. Obviously the author benefits personally from being an advisor in how to meddle in other people's lives for their own benefit and so he espouses this view that the state can cure the problems that in my view it has itself created. I think his economic understanding is weak. Good read though.
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Format: Paperback
I admit I was biased before I even started reading this work. I wanted to know about Easter Island and the Greenland Norse. The other failed societies were of marginal interest to me. Sure I read about Montana, the Anasazi, and the Maya, while skipping over Rwanda, Dominican Republic/Haiti, and Australia. The chapters on China and Pitcairn/Henderson Islands were, however, interesting (the latter especially in the context of Easter Island).

But it is into the two sections on Easter and the Greenland Norse that you can tell the author has poured his soul. They really stand out in what I read of this book - most of it - and perhaps for the history-interested layman they are the most interesting chapters to read. I'm not sure if the author presents anything radically new, but what he does do, which is to provide the lay reader with a useful summary of the present facts and findings on the two mysteries - he does very well. I feel I am now up to speed with some of the latest research into the disappearances of civilized society on Easter and in Norse Greenland. Nowhere else have I seen such useful and up-to-date general/overall accounts of the state of research into these two former societies. It's really required reading for anyone who has an interest in either. Not only does the author present us with - at the time of writing - the latest research, he also considers many pertinent issues himself and comes to his own conclusions. It's as if he took all the latest findings on Easter and Greenland and put them into an comprehensive, accessible, and useful/relevant perspective. What a great place then to start your readings into these two societies.
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Format: Paperback
Reaching page 10 of this over-rated book, I decided to put it aside for 2 major flaws. There are no annotations or references to connect the text to previous scholarship. Ideas are thrown at the reader from a blue sky without proper introduction and without giving credit to the rightful owners of the mentioned ideas. Who's credited with the concept of the tragedy of the commons? How can you jiggle such a significant concept Ike that without the proper grounding or mentioning the late Garrett Hardin who coined it in a known paper?
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Format: Paperback
A great insight into the environmental dangers that our world faces and the simple fact that we can not afford to ignore them. Its a book I would recommend to all but for the fact that it can become quite laborious to read. As previous comments have said its in great need of editing to make it so much more accessible for the general reader, as much of the book is full of repetition and in many places more information than is possible needed. That's not to say its badly written, Diamond continuously argues his points successfully, but it reads rather like a collection of text book case studies. These though are insightful and offer parallels with current society that we shouldn't ignore. To see how societies have made mistakes or prospered in the past really is fascinating.

If you have the patience to wade through the book then it's a must read, as you will feel that bit more enlightened on the actions our current society should be taking.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Interesting subject but a major failure in my opinion: almost 600 pages that should have been around 150 and way too much off topic. In addition, Diamond is not someone who can mesmerize the reader, many times downright boring reading. Of to the charity shop you go book!
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Format: Paperback
I have immense respect for Jared Diamond for `Guns, Germs and Steel' which is excellent and certainly a cut above `Collapse'. The frustrating thing about this book is that the author seems to be building up to a grand conclusion, meticulously analysing case study after case study, but the grand finale never comes, and one can't but help feeling a bit disappointed. The author does point out the mistakes that certain past societies have made that brought about their collapse, but as to how the lessons learnt can be applied specifically to our modern world is never elucidated. All the raw material is here for a really good book, but it's as if, in the end, the author decided to play it safe and not suggest anything too drastic for the modern world. Certain fundamental aspects of our modern societal and ecological problems are seemingly off-limit to discussion - for example, never once is the primacy and necessity of industrial production at all costs questioned. The values and necessity of modern, industrialist, capitalist society are taken as a given, with sustainability being justified on the basis of economics (it's cheaper to clean up mines as you go rather than to do it at the end, therefore we should do it - instead of saying a beautiful environment filled with biodiversity, and clean drinking water is good in its own right, therefore we should clean up mines as well as possible, or even better to ask, do we REALLY need the mines). Although I realise that Jared is writing to the `unconverted' as it were, it nonetheless saddened me that the level of discourse has to slip so low that he feels the need to justify looking after the environment and after the people living in one's own country on the basis of the lost capital input to the economy which deaths due to pollution may cause.Read more ›
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