Prologue : a tale of two farms -- Part 1: Modern Montana : Under Montana's big sky -- Part 2: Past societies : Twilight at Easter -- The last people alive : Pitcairn and Henderson Islands -- The ancient ones : the Anasazi and their neighbors -- The Maya collapses -- The Viking prelude and fugues -- Norse Greenland's flowering -- Norse Greenland's end -- Opposite paths to success -- Part 3: Modern societies : Malthus in Africa : Rwanda's genocide -- One island, two peoples, two histories : the Dominican Republic and Haiti -- China, lurching giant -- "Mining" Australia -- Part 4: Practical lessons : Why do some societies make disastrous decisions? -- Big businesses and the environment : different conditions, different outcomes -- The world as a polder : what does it all mean to us today? -- Afterword : Angkor's rise and fall. "A magisterial effort packed with insight and written with clarity and enthusiasm. It's also the deal of the year--the equivalent of a year's college course by an engaging, brilliant professor, all for the price of a book." Who Hasn't Gazed upon the abandoned temples of Angkor Wat or the jungle-choked cities of the Maya and wondered, could the same fate happen to us? In this riveting book, Jared Diamond--whose Guns, Germs, and Steel revolutionized our understanding of history--explores how humankind's use and abuse of the environment reveal the truth behind the world's great collapses, from the Anasazi of North America to the Vikings of Greenland to modern Montana. What emerges is a fundamental pattern of environmental catastrophe--one whose warning signs surround us today and that we ignore at our peril. Blending the most recent scientific advances and a vast historical perspective into a narrative that is impossible to put down, Collapse exposes the deepest mysteries of the past even as it offers hope for the future. "Diamond's most influential gift may be his ability to write about geopolitical and environmental systems in ways that don't just educate and provoke, but entertain." "Extremely persuasive ... replete with fascinating stories, a treasure trove of historical anecdotes [and] haunting statistics." "Essential reading ... Collapse [shows] that resilient societies are nimble ones, capable of long-term planning and of abandoning deeply entrenched but ultimately destructive core values and beliefs." "There are hopeful messages in Collapse. With Diamond's help, maybe we'll learn to see our problems a little more clearly before we chop down that last palm tree." "Extraordinarily panoramic ... Diamond's complex historical web of how human communities either master their environment or become victims of them ... takes a lifetime of research and, in normal English, leads the reader painstakingly where the media and intellectual journals have often refused to go."--Jacket.