In his million-copy bestseller Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond examined how and why Western civilizations developed the technologies and immunities that allowed them to dominate much of the world. Now in this brilliant companion volume, Diamond probes the other side of the equation: What caused some of the great civilizations of the past to collapse into ruin, and what can we learn from their fates?
In a world that celebrates live journalism, we are increasingly in need of big-picture authors like Jared Diamond, who think historically and spatially -- across an array of disciplines -- to make sense of events that journalists may seem to be covering in depth, but in fact aren't. He did this so well in Guns, Germs, and Steel, which has been a huge bestseller since its publication in 1997, that one might think Diamond would have little more to say about the vast sweep of human history. Think again. In his extraordinarily panoramic Collapse, he moves his wide lens to yet another telling phenomenon: failed nations, of both the distant and the recent past.