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Jared Diamond investigates the fate of past human societies, and the lessons for our own future. What happened to the people who built the ruined temples of Angkor Wat, the long-abandoned statues of Easter Island, the crumbling Maya pyramids of the Yucatan? All saw their cultures collapse because of environmental crises. And it looks as if those crises were self-induced. As in his celebrated global bestseller Guns, Germs and Steel, Diamond brings together new evidence from a startling range of sources to tell a story with epic scope. And he lends it urgency for the modern world by probing the roots of decisions which allowed some societies to avoid ecological catastrophe, while others succumbed. How, he asks, can we learn to be survivors?
2011 edition with a new afterword by the author.
Jared Diamond is Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. Until recently he was Professor of Physiology at the UCLA School of Medicine. He is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the widely acclaimed Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies, which also is the winner of Britain's 1998 Rhone-Poulenc Science Book Prize.
"Diamond is a brilliant expositor of everything from anthropology to zoology, providing a lucid background of scientific lore to support a stimulating, incisive historical account of these many declines and falls. Readers will find his book an enthralling, and disturbing, reminder of the indissoluble links that bind humans to nature."
– China Daily
"Diamond, a geographer in the old 19th-century sense of the word, sheds light on what the media have often left in darkness."
– Washington post