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Extended Audio Sample Collapse, by Jared Diamond Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (26,717 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jared Diamond Narrator: Christopher Murney Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In his 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?

As in Guns, Germs, and Steel, Diamond weaves an all-encompassing global thesis through a series of fascinating historical-cultural narratives. Moving from the Polynesian cultures on Easter Island to the flourishing American civilizations of the Anasazi and the Maya and finally to the doomed Viking colony on Greenland, Diamond traces the fundamental pattern of catastrophe. Environmental damage, climate change, rapid population growth, and unwise political choices were all factors in the demise of these societies, but other societies found solutions and persisted. Similar problems face us today and have already brought disaster to Rwanda and Haiti, even as China and Australia are trying to cope in innovative ways. Despite our own society’s apparently inexhaustible wealth and unrivaled political power, ominous warning signs have begun to emerge even in ecologically robust areas like Montana.

Brilliant, illuminating, and immensely absorbing, Collapse is destined to take its place as one of the essential books of our time, raising the urgent question: how can our world best avoid committing ecological suicide?

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Quotes & Awards

  • Mr. Diamond...is a lucid writer with an ability to make arcane scientific concepts readiily accesible to the lay reader, and his case studies of failed cultures are never less than compelling."—The New York Times

    "...Collapse is a magisterial effort packed with insight and written with clarity and enthusiasm."—Businessweek

    "Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse represent one of the most significant projects embarked upon by any intellectual of our generation. They are magnificent books: extraordinary in erudition and originality, compelling in their ability to relate the digitized pandemonium of the present to the hushed agrarian sunrises of the far past. I read both thinking what literature might be like if every author knew so much, wrote so clearly and formed arguments with such care."—Gregg Easterbrook, The New York Times Book Review

  • “Extraordinary in erudition and originality, compelling in [its] ability to relate the digitized pandemonium of the present to the hushed agrarian sunrises of the far past.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “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…Thank heavens there is someone of the stature of Diamond willing to say so.”

    Washington Post

  • “Diamond looks to the past and present to sound a warning for the future.”


  • “Rendering complex history and science into entertaining prose, Diamond reminds us that those who ignore history are bound to repeat it.”

    People (4 stars)

  • “With Collapse, Jared Diamond has written a fascinating account of the collapse of civilizations around the world…[One] cannot help but leave the book wondering whether we are following the track of these other civilizations that failed. Any reader of Collapse will leave the book convinced that we must take steps now to save our planet.”

    Boston Globe

  • Collapse is a magisterial effort packed with insight and written with clarity and enthusiasm.”


  • “Essential reading for anyone who is unafraid to be disillusioned if it means they can walk into the future with their eyes open.”


  • “On any short list of brilliant minds in the world today, Diamond makes the cut.”

    San Jose Mercury News

  • “Read this book. It will change you and make you think.”

    Scientific American

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • A 2005 ALA Notable Book Finalist for Nonfiction
  • A 2005 Washington Post Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2005 Boston Globe Book of the Year for Nonfiction
  • A 2005 Los Angeles Times Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2005 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2005 New York Times Book Review Notable Book

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Nate | 2/20/2014

    " Snooze fest "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Bill | 2/13/2014

    " pretty scary stuff from Diamond. Tracing the growth and collapse of several societies (Maya, Easter Island, Viking colonists on Greenland and N. America, etc.) and proposing how we could potentially learn from their mistakes. A cautionary tale fo places not yet completely collapsed (like Australia), but highlighting errors of judgment from those who tried to colonize from Britain (bringing rabbits and foxes and trying to create an agricultural economy, to re-create the familiar only to discover that it was disastrous in this new and different place) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Angela | 2/3/2014

    " Liking this one more than Guns, Germs, and Steel. Also I've wanted to know what the heck happened with those starving medeival Greenlanders ever since I read Jane Smiley's book _The Greenlanders_. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jeannette | 2/3/2014

    " This book is classic Jared Diamond, a bit dense but infinitely intriguing. I would love to have a mind like his, capable of endless inquiry, drawing parallels between endless data points and weaving a riveting tapestry of human/cultural evolution. The world needs more of him. "

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