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Questioning Collapse: Human Resilience, Ecological Vulnerability, and the Aftermath of Empire (review)

Questioning Collapse: Human Resilience, Ecological Vulnerability, and the Aftermath of Empire... Questioning Collapse: Human Resilience, Ecological Vulnerability, and the Aftermath of Empire. Edited by patricia a. mcanany and norman yoffee. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009. $90.00 (cloth); $29.99 (paper). The immense popularity of Jared Diamond's books, Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997) and Collapse (2005), have been a mixed blessing for scholars of world history, anthropology, and archaeology.1 On the one hand, Diamond's work has sparked new interest in broad explanations for shifting global patterns of settlement and differences among cultures, and on the other, such synthesis has provided an unsatisfactory, over-general, and even coarse picture of past societies. In the Pulitzer Prize­winning first tome, Diamond examined the buildup of societies throughout time and posited that rather than biological differences among peoples, geographic factors or "differences among people's environments," accounted for and explained uneven development and technological achievement.2 In his newer work, Diamond shifted from a fatalistic explanation of the growth of civilizations to one that examines their disintegration as a collective choice. Collapse claims that societies choose to fail or succeed based on a matrix of factors including environmental damage, climate change, hostile neighbors, friendly 1 Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (New http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of World History University of Hawai'I Press

Questioning Collapse: Human Resilience, Ecological Vulnerability, and the Aftermath of Empire (review)

Journal of World History , Volume 22 (2) – Aug 3, 2011

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University of Hawai'I Press
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Copyright © University of Hawai'I Press
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1527-8050
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Abstract

Questioning Collapse: Human Resilience, Ecological Vulnerability, and the Aftermath of Empire. Edited by patricia a. mcanany and norman yoffee. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009. $90.00 (cloth); $29.99 (paper). The immense popularity of Jared Diamond's books, Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997) and Collapse (2005), have been a mixed blessing for scholars of world history, anthropology, and archaeology.1 On the one hand, Diamond's work has sparked new interest in broad explanations for shifting global patterns of settlement and differences among cultures, and on the other, such synthesis has provided an unsatisfactory, over-general, and even coarse picture of past societies. In the Pulitzer Prize­winning first tome, Diamond examined the buildup of societies throughout time and posited that rather than biological differences among peoples, geographic factors or "differences among people's environments," accounted for and explained uneven development and technological achievement.2 In his newer work, Diamond shifted from a fatalistic explanation of the growth of civilizations to one that examines their disintegration as a collective choice. Collapse claims that societies choose to fail or succeed based on a matrix of factors including environmental damage, climate change, hostile neighbors, friendly 1 Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (New

Journal

Journal of World HistoryUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Aug 3, 2011

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