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1 November 2008

Jared Diamond on Why Societies Collapse

A globally renowned scholar and author, Jared Diamond finds answers to the massive "Why?"s in so-vast-you-don't-notice patterns in history. His bestselling and Pulitzer-winning book Guns, Germs and Steel looks at the reasons history turned out the way it did -- why European societies conquered the rest of the world instead of the other way around. His latest book, Collapse, asks nearly the opposite: Why do some civilizations fail?

An ecologist, evolutionary biologist and professor of geography and physiology at UCLA, Diamond takes an approach that goes beyond culture and into the impact it has on the environment. As Malcolm Gladwell observes, "Diamond's distinction between social and biological survival is a critical one, because too often we blur the two." Diamond's ability to tackle daunting questions (and pose unsettling answers) in a straightforward voice may be reason enough to share his optimism that recognizing a problem paves the way for solving it.

"Whether peace is to be reached only after unimaginable horrors precipitated by humanity's stubborn clinging to old patterns of behaviour, or is to be embraced now by an act of consultative will, is the choice before all who inhabit the earth." (from The Promise of World Peace)



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