Review: Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

Jared Diamond (2004) 592 pages

By the time I finally finished reading Collapse, I felt like I’d completed author Jared Diamond’s college course. It reads a bit like a college lecture, but that’s not such a bad thing. I found the book incredibly dense with information, thought-provoking ideas, historical facts and daunting challenges for our planet.

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That’s as far as I’d gotten in my review of Collapse when I decided it was too nice a day to spend it in doors. I went Old School, taking a pen and writing pad out on the sunny back deck to finish the review in longhand. Alas, what I fondly recall as my most brilliant book reviews ever has yet to see the light of day on my website. Three months later, when I (finally) went to post it on my blog, I couldn’t find it anywhere.

My review was rather lengthy, as befits such a dense and thought-provoking book, so the thought of re-creating it is, well frankly, nauseating. We’ll all just have to settle with my opening paragraph and this simple summation: In this incredibly relevant work of social history, Jared Diamond uses societies both ancient (The Maya, Easter Island, the Anasazi, Vikings) and modern (Rwanda, Haiti, the Dominican Republic) to illuminate the crisis points that face humankind today. Diamond’s clarion call urges us to learn from the past in order that we might step off the path toward what history has shown could well be a dire end. [**** out of 5]

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