In his 2005 book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (also subtitled How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive), author and multifaceted US scholar Jared M. Diamond clearly identifies five major factors that he says determine the success or failure of all human societies in all periods of history.
Having first asked why societies collapse, Diamond explores various examples of failed societies, from the Norsemen of Scandinavia, who colonized Greenland in the early 10th century, to the 18th-century inhabitants of Easter Island. As a counterpoint, he shows how inhabitants of Highland New Guinea over the past 7,000 years, and Japan in the 17th to 19th centuries, managed to overcome potentially terminal challenges to their survival. Investigating these successes and failures allows Diamond to pinpoint the five key factors.
Collapse alienated many academics, especially those who objected to Diamond's emphasis on "geographic determinism", or the impact of local environments on the way societies develop. Many of them dismissed this view as outdated and racist. But Diamond's depth of knowledge, and the way he uses it so engagingly, have won Collapse a huge worldwide readership.
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