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Collapse by Jared Diamond

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Attainment of Catastrophe

Collapse by Jared Diamond, a professor at the University of California, is a brilliant novel about he fall of human societies based on college graduate level courses. Many accredited scientists, archaeologists, and historians contributed to this brilliant book.
Of the multiple nonfiction novels I’ve pursued, Collapse proved to be the most challenging. Though remarkably well written, Diamond’s book requires a certain depth of thought that makes it difficult to read thoroughly for long stretches of time. I often found myself flipping back through the chapters and subsections searching for a particularly illuminating quote. This is not to say, however, that I did not like Collapse. I very much enjoyed the intellectual exercise Diamond created with his detailed analysis of past of present societies. The bright images of deforested Pacific islands and desolate Greenland tundra haunted me as I realized that the fate of those civilizations could easily occur to the modern word. Each night as I went to bed after reading I wondered, “Are the pollutants of our mines and cities going to be our downfall.”
Captivated as I was, the book’s conclusion was immediately followed for a search for further material, which Professor Diamond graciously provided references for.
In many sections, Diamond provided first hand experiences to better explain why a point was relevant. This, I believe, is vital to the novel because it is otherwise difficult to understand why a tiny and ancient society such as Easter Island is though to be any indication of modern civilizations’ collapse. Yet because this book is written in first person with such well thought out explanations, events from 700 years ago on Easter Island do seem important rather than a tiny people on an insignificant spit of land that nearly went extinct because of the deforestation of their island. Using foreshadowing, Diamond creates an air of urgency about our own societal problems but also more than a glimmer of hope. Each chapter introduces a new idea about our future. I was hanging onto every word at the end.
Collapse was the best and most educational nonfiction book I’ve ever read. Having said this, this is not a book for the average reader looking for something fun and light to read. This is a novel for aspiring archaeologists and historians, not your average high school reader. Still if you are looking for a intellectual workout combined with some truly astounding writing, Collapse is a first rate novel.





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