By Jared Diamond,

Book cover of Collapse

Book description

From the author of Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive is a visionary study of the mysterious downfall of past civilizations.

Now in a revised edition with a new afterword, Jared Diamond's Collapse uncovers the secret behind why some societies flourish, while…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked Collapse as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Have you ever encountered an idea in a book that made such a lasting impression on you that, almost like the “flashbulb” memory of a life – or world-changing event, you can remember the exact circumstances of where you were when you first read it?

Jared Diamond’s Collapse – which I picked up at an airport bookshop as “light reading” for a long flight – ended up providing me with just such an experience. The book holds that culture can fatally inure us, like so many slowly (and initially comfortably) boiling frogs, to the existential threat of environmental destruction, particularly…

This sequel to Guns, Germs, and Steel presents the histories of past civilizations that have collapsed due to growing pressures on natural resources and the consequent non-sustainable cultivation practices for food.

The book contains many important messages which we ignore at our peril. Importantly, we do have a choice to ensure that our current technology-based civilization doesn’t follow a well-trodden path.

Diamond shows, with a stunning depth and range of reference, how a failure to live within ecological limits has been the ultimate cause of the collapse of human societies through the ages. A riveting and terrifying read, and a stark warning of the consequences of our blind fixation on growth – at a planetary level as well as that of individual societies.

Diamond is not an economist, but he thinks like one. In this book, he looks at civilizations that failed, drawing illuminating and important insights about the ways in which population pressures on resources can result in the collapse and disappearance of civilizations. The tales he tells offer a chilling warning about the need to attend to humankind’s impact on the world around us.

A long and highly detailed study of how societies fail and collapse, but a work of non-fiction that I could not put down and eagerly sought each day until I finished the book.

A great non-fiction title for us lay/ordinary readers should process a vast amount of historical research and evidence and specialist knowledge to produce an engaging, even mind-expanding work, that leaves us feeling not just informed but awakened to truths we could previously only guess at. Collapse achieves this expertly by examining the historical and archaeological evidence of why certain societies failed - the Anasazi, Maya, the Vikings…

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