Brilliant, illuminating, and immensely absorbing, Collapse is destined to take its place as one of the essential books of our time, raising the urgent question: How can our world best avoid committing ecological suicide?
The real problem with Collapse isn’t the research that goes into the thesis, or even the soundness of the thesis itself. The central contention, that population explosion, interdependency, unsustainable harvest, adverse cultural values, and about 8 other factors contributed to a society’s collapse, is innocuous enough, though admittedly somewhat vague. Rather, the problem is that Diamond is so intent upon clearly and explicitly detailing every freaking argument to paint a convincing picture of the ancient/medieval societies or the current polluting industries that he often loses sight of his larger arguments. For instance, his discussion of Viking Greenland v. Iceland is insightful but whether it warrants nearly 100 pages in a 500 page book I doubt.
The book ends up presenting really rather very little that is new, argues persistently against straw man hypotheses, and is informative but almost in a trivial sense.
A study of the downfall of some of history's greatest civilizations, written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, includes coverage of such cultures as the Anasazi, the ...