This is the follow up to Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel . Where his first book attempted to answer the question, “why do you people have such great cargo,” this book asks, “why do civilizations suddenly fail?”

As usual, Diamond finds very interesting information to wire together into a useful framework. Unfortunately, at times the logic seems wanting; for example, he states five rules that he feels can be evaluated to determine if a society will collapse, and then uses one of his examples, which was used to make the rules, to validate them. Doesn’t work.

But, there is a wealth of great information and ideas here, along with what I believe is a valid theme in history – societies don’t see the long-term implications of their short-term tactics, and even if they do they often can’t change themselves fast
enough to survive.


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