Why Societies Succeed and Fail

Download Audio
photoAtlantis, the Vikings, Mayans, and many other societies have all disappeared. However, they have left behind a rich record of their material cultures. In his new book, geographer Jared Diamond combs through that record to reconstruct these societies' final days and finds ecocide the most compelling argument that runs through all of their stories.

But it's not all just bleak news. In his book, Diamond also relates the stories of a number of other populations, like those in Japan and Papua New Guinea, that appeared headed for similar dim fates but good leadership saved them from the brink. Diamond says that their survival came down to how they managed their environment.

Hear a conversation with Jared Diamond about his new book, "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed."


Jared Diamond, professor of geography at the University of California at Los Angeles and author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book "Guns, Germs, and Steel."

This program aired on January 4, 2005.


More from On Point

Listen Live