Jared Diamond: Why societies collapse

06/11/2013 12:15

Reviewed by Jonathon Porritt

As no other phenomenon in living memory, the Indian Ocean earthquake and resulting tsunami have reminded people of the raw power of natural forces at work. There was nothing "man-made" about this particular disaster, though it may well be that the overwhelming scale of its impact was exacerbated by the way in which we have developed some of the worst-affected coastal areas.

In Collapse, Jared Diamond uses that elemental power of nature as his background, but fills his foreground with an astonishing cavalcade of different peoples and cultures from across the planet. They are linked by Diamond's inquiry into what caused some of these societies (such as the Mayan civilisation or the people of Easter Island) to collapse, while others facing similar challenges managed to survive. [Read more] ...