Norse Greenland: A Controlled Experiment in Collapse--A Selection from Collapse (Penguin Tracks)

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A timely and fascinating exploration of the collapse of prehistoric Norse society in Greenland—excerpted from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jared Diamond’s Collapse

This excerpt from the New York Times–bestselling book Collapse takes a timely and fascinating look at prehistoric Norse Greenland—the closest approximation of a controlled experiment in collapse in history. One island, two unique societies (Norse and Inuit). Only one of these societies would succeed—the other would fail. But how? With his trademark accessibility and comprehensiveness, Diamond documents how environmental damage, climate change, loss of friendly contacts and the rise of hostile ones, and the unique political, economic, and social settings of prehistoric Greenland combine to demonstrate exactly why and how societies choose to fail or succeed.

Jared Diamond's latest book, The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?, is available from Viking.
 
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A Bill Gates Summer Reading Pick
A "riveting and illuminating" (Yuval Noah Harari) new theory of how and why some nations recover from trauma and others don't, by the Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of the landmark bestsellers Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse.

In his international bestsellers Guns, Germs and Steel and Collapse, Jared Diamond transformed our understanding of what makes civilizations rise and fall. Now, in his third book in this monumental trilogy, he reveals how successful nations recover from crises while adopting selective changes -- a coping mechanism more commonly associated with individuals recovering from personal crises.

Diamond compares how six countries have survived recent upheavals -- ranging from the forced opening of Japan by U.S. Commodore Perry's fleet, to the Soviet Union's attack on Finland, to a murderous coup or countercoup in Chile and Indonesia, to the transformations of Germany and Austria after World War Two. Because Diamond has lived and spoken the language in five of these six countries, he can present gut-wrenching histories experienced firsthand. These nations coped, to varying degrees, through mechanisms such as acknowledgment of responsibility, painfully honest self-appraisal, and learning from models of other nations. Looking to the future, Diamond examines whether the United States, Japan, and the whole world are successfully coping with the grave crises they currently face. Can we learn from lessons of the past?
Adding a psychological dimension to the in-depth history, geography, biology, and anthropology that mark all of Diamond's books, Upheaval reveals factors influencing how both whole nations and individual people can respond to big challenges. The result is a book epic in scope, but also his most personal book yet.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Dec 11, 2012
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Pages
112
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ISBN
9781101629352
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Polar Regions
History / World
Social Science / Anthropology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The Technocratic Antarctic is an ethnographic account of the scientists and policymakers who work on Antarctica. In a place with no indigenous people, Antarctic scientists and policymakers use expertise as their primary model of governance. Scientific research and policymaking are practices that inform each other, and the Antarctic environment—with its striking beauty, dramatic human and animal lives, and specter of global climate change—not only informs science and policy but also lends Antarctic environmentalism a particularly technocratic patina.

Jessica O’Reilly conducted most of her research for this book in New Zealand, home of the "Antarctic Gateway" city of Christchurch, and on an expedition to Windless Bight, Antarctica, with the New Zealand Antarctic Program. O’Reilly also follows the journeys Antarctic scientists and policymakers take to temporarily "Antarctic" places such as science conferences, policy workshops, and the international Antarctic Treaty meetings in Scotland, Australia, and India. Competing claims of nationalism, scientific disciplines, field experiences, and personal relationships among Antarctic environmental managers disrupt the idea of a utopian epistemic community. O’Reilly focuses on what emerges in Antarctica among the complicated and hybrid forms of science, sociality, politics, and national membership found there. The Technocratic Antarctic unfolds the historical, political, and moral contexts that shape experiences of and decisions about the Antarctic environment.

The bestselling author of Collapse and Guns, Germs and Steel surveys the history of human societies to answer the question: What can we learn from traditional societies that can make the world a better place for all of us?

“As he did in his Pulitzer Prize-winning Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond continues to make us think with his mesmerizing and absorbing new book." Bookpage


Most of us take for granted the features of our modern society, from air travel and telecommunications to literacy and obesity. Yet for nearly all of its six million years of existence, human society had none of these things. While the gulf that divides us from our primitive ancestors may seem unbridgeably wide, we can glimpse much of our former lifestyle in those largely traditional societies still or recently in existence. Societies like those of the New Guinea Highlanders remind us that it was only yesterday—in evolutionary time—when everything changed and that we moderns still possess bodies and social practices often better adapted to traditional than to modern conditions.The World Until Yesterday provides a mesmerizing firsthand picture of the human past as it had been for millions of years—a past that has mostly vanished—and considers what the differences between that past and our present mean for our lives today.

This is Jared Diamond’s most personal book to date, as he draws extensively from his decades of field work in the Pacific islands, as well as evidence from Inuit, Amazonian Indians, Kalahari San people, and others. Diamond doesn’t romanticize traditional societies—after all, we are shocked by some of their practices—but he finds that their solutions to universal human problems such as child rearing, elder care, dispute resolution, risk, and physical fitness have much to teach us. Provocative, enlightening, and entertaining, The World Until Yesterday is an essential and fascinating read.
From the author of The Ice Master comes the remarkable true story of a young Inuit woman who survived six months alone on a desolate, uninhabited Arctic island

In September 1921, four young men and Ada Blackjack, a diminutive 25-year-old Eskimo woman, ventured deep into the Arctic in a secret attempt to colonize desolate Wrangel Island for Great Britain. Two years later, Ada Blackjack emerged as the sole survivor of this ambitious polar expedition. This young, unskilled woman--who had headed to the Arctic in search of money and a husband--conquered the seemingly unconquerable north and survived all alone after her male companions had perished.

Following her triumphant return to civilization, the international press proclaimed her the female Robinson Crusoe. But whatever stories the press turned out came from the imaginations of reporters: Ada Blackjack refused to speak to anyone about her horrific two years in the Arctic. Only on one occasion--after charges were published falsely accusing her of causing the death of one her companions--did she speak up for herself.

Jennifer Niven has created an absorbing, compelling history of this remarkable woman, taking full advantage of the wealth of first-hand resources about Ada that exist, including her never-before-seen diaries, the unpublished diaries from other primary characters, and interviews with Ada's surviving son. Ada Blackjack is more than a rugged tale of a woman battling the elements to survive in the frozen north--it is the story of a hero.
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