Author: Jared Diamond
Title: Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
Description : Diamond analyzes societies from the past that collapsed suddenly and mysteriously (i.e. Easter Island, Greenland, Mayan Indians, Anasazi) and describes the forces, most often environmental, that caused the societies to fail. He then applies these lessons to our own situation.
Writing style: This book is long, over 500 pages. The writing kept me interested, for the most part. I couldn’t ever read it in one sitting, though. It probably took me about six months to actually get through it. Diamond uses painstaking detail and lots of archaeological evidence, which is interesting, but can get old around page 350 or so…
Audience: I’m an archaeology buff and really enjoyed reading about these societies and the reasons they disappeared. Rather than doing the sensational “what happened to them” that seems to be so common, Diamond explains what happened, using enough evidence to be convincing. Those interested in the environment should also read this book.
Major ideas: Diamond identifies twelve risk factors, all of which are present in the US today; the book should act as a wake-up call. Now that we can understand what the ancient societies couldn’t, due to their lack of historical records and environmental awareness, we have to act to reduce our risk, or our own society will face collapse.
Wrap-up: This book was masterfully and convincingly written, if a bit scary and gloomy. 4/5* If you'd rather hear the TED talk, here it is...