Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or SurviveHardback
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- Publisher: ALLEN LANE
- Format: Hardback | 592 pages
- Dimensions: 150mm x 238mm x 40mm | 1,080g
- Publication date: 17 January 2005
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0713992867
- ISBN 13: 9780713992861
- Illustrations note: Illustrations, maps
In Collapse, Jared Diamond investigates the fate of past human societies, and the lessons for our own future. What happened to the people who built the ruined temples of Angkor Wat, the long-abandonded statues of Easter Island, the crumbling Maya pyramids of the Yucatan? All saw their cultures collapse because of environmental crises. And it looks as if those crises were self-induced. As in his celebrated global best-seller Guns, Germs and Steel, Diamond brings together new evidence from a startling range of sources to tell a story with epic scope. And he lends it urgency for the modern world by probing the roots of decisions which allowed some societies to avoid ecological catastrophe, while others succumbed. How, he asks, can we learn to be survivors?
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Jared Diamond was born in Boston to a physician father and a teacher/musician/linguist mother. After training in laboratory biological science he became Professor of Physiology at UCLA Medical School in 1966. However, already while in his twenties, he also developed a second parallel career in the ecology and evolution of New Guinea birds. That led him to explore some of the most remote parts of that great tropical island, and to rediscover New Guinea's long-lost Golden-fronted Bowerbird. In his fifties he gradually developed a third career in environmental history, becoming Professor of Geography and of Environmental Health Sciences at UCLA. As well as being renowned in academic circles, Jared Diamond is famous for his prize-winning books The Third Chimpanzee and Why is Sex Fun?, and for revolutionizing the study of global human history with Guns, Germs and Steel. His awards include a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (a genius award'), and the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction. The broad range of disciplines that he weaves into his writing - linguistics, genetics, animal behaviour, molecular biology and others - caused a reviewer to write, Jared Diamond is suspected of actually being the pseudonym for a committee of experts.' In his spare time he watches birds and learns languages (he is currently learning his twelfth). He is the father of seventeen-year-old twin sons who have informed much of his outlook on life.
The Mayans, Easter Islanders, Norse settlers on Greenland and the Anasazi. Disparate societies separated by time, customs and attitudes and yet with one thing in common - collapse. The monumental ruins left behind by these civilisations hold a romantic fascination, but also hint that such a fate might be waiting for our own society. Yet collapse is not inevitable and some cultures have survived uninterrupted for thousands of years. What factors determine this success or failure and are we doomed? These are the questions that Pulitzer Prize winner Jared Diamond seeks to answer. He assesses the ecological factors of population growth, habitat destruction and climate change, as well as cultural interaction with outsiders, and finally focuses on how societies respond to problems. It is disturbing to think that for the first time we are risking decline on a global scale, but at least we have the chance to learn from the past and avoid disaster.(Kirkus UK)