Summary of Collapse

How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

First Edition: 2004 more...

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Collapse book summary
Prosperity one century, cannibalism the next. National societal failure comes quickly.


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In this fascinating, surprising study, Pulitzer Prize winner Jared Diamond examines how and why some societies fail while others thrive. Diamond makes this history of failed societies into a page-turner, while resisting the urge to oversimplify. He unflinchingly examines cannibalism and mass murder in the hellish downfalls of Easter Island and Rwanda. Yet, he also outlines hope-inspiring successes in New Guinea, Japan and the Dominican Republic. This fat tome is quite engrossing, though in spots Diamond shows an academic’s weakness for repetition and caveats. Even so, this compelling classic deservedly has spent a long time on the bestseller lists. getAbstract recommends it to anyone who hopes to understand how human societies have gone wrong – and right.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why some societies fail and others succeed
  • Where societies on Easter Island, Greenland and elsewhere went wrong
  • How New Guinea, Japan and the Dominican Republic have preserved their forests, and thus their societies


From Deforestation to Mass Murder
With global climate change looming, questioning society’s future seems reasonable. Can the planet’s natural resources survive the ever-growing strain people place on them? Can a billion Chinese enjoy U.S.-type prosperity without sending the global ecology...
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About the Author

Jared Diamond teaches geography at UCLA. His previous book, Guns, Germs, and Steel, won the Pulitzer Prize. He also has won the National Medal of Science and many other awards, and has written more than 200 articles for Discover, Nature and other magazines.

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