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Diamond, Jared. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York: Penguin Croup, 2005.
Diamond, Jared. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York: Penguin Croup, 2005.

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Published by: Maham on Feb 08, 2009
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Maham Nadeem

January 2, 2009

Diamond, Jared. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York: Penguin Croup, 2005. Collapse by Jared Diamond is a fascinating novel. Diamond says that he has written this book for readers to first “enjoy the opportunity of learning quickly from developments in societies anywhere else in the world today, and from what has unfolded in societies at any time in the past (23). Diamond’s thesis is that inadequate environmental organization and administration lead to aggressive collisions and the verge of collapse. The book is divided up into four parts; part one talks about the environmental conditions of modern day Montana. In part two Diamond depicts the downfall of past societies (Easter Island, the Anasazi, the Greenland Norse, the Pitcairn Islanders, and the Maya) which he attributes to five factors: environmental destruction, climatic modification, hostile neighbors, loss of trading partners, and the society's reactions to its environmental conflicts. He then describes three societies that chose to succeed: Tikopia, New Guinea, and Japan. In part three Diamond addresses contemporary societies including Rwanda, Australia, China, and the Dominican Republic. Part four simply digs up practical lessons for notions such as globalization. I feel that there was definitely a need for this book since it emphasizes that success or failure in a society is a choice. Diamond provides a lot of evidence for his thesis and he partially succeeds in convincing me. His theory is quite believable; I’m just pretty much impossible to convince. Diamond uses many factors which he says caused the collapse of past societies and are capable of collapsing modern-day societies such as deforestation, overhunting, problems with soil, population growth, the introduction of new species into an environment, water management, changes in climate due to humans (greenhouse gases), pollution, etc. Diamond explains his hypothesis with the aid of several short stories which he is very good at telling. Diamond also utilizes pictures and maps

and I feel that they were well placed and definitely aided his argument. This is just me being picky but had he put each picture after its specific story instead of just bunching them in the middle of the book, his theory would have been even more effective. Personally speaking, this book was really long and at times I must admit it bored me tremendously. However, to his credit, Diamond was rather straightforward and I didn’t find myself being confused at all. I would recommend this to students or people in general who think a little bit philosophically and are ready for some bizarre connections between history and science. I often find myself thinking that Diamond’s books are more psychology than history or science. Once again Diamond did prove his thesis and he was quite successful in his presentation of his hypothesis.

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