Author: Jared Diamond
Date: 2005
Publisher: Allen Lane/Penguin
ISBN: 0-713-99286-7

Content: Anthropology/history of societal failure.

  • Modern Montana,
  • Past societies, Easter Island, Pitcairn, Anasazi, Maya, Viking, Norse, New Guinea. Modern societies, Rwanda, Dominica and Haiti, China, Autralia.
  • Practical lessons, decision making, business and the environment. What does he conclude;

"When people are desperate, undernourished and without hope, they blame their governments, which they see as responsible for or being unable to solve their problems. They try to emigrate at any cost. They fight each other over land. They kill each other. They start civil wars. They figure that they have nothing to lose, so they become terrorists, or they support or tolerate terrorism." p516

"Remember that impact" [ours on the planet] "is the product of two factors: population, multiplied times impact per person" p524

His last chapter is called reasons for hope but he only gets to them at the very end, in the last paragraph of the entire book. He points out that because of TV we, unlike societies in the past, can see what is happening and learn from past mistakes. 

Relevance: Help with the question, given the possible existential threats we face in the future, are we likely to make the right choices?