I had to read the book for A.P. world history this summer and I can sit down and read for hours but I couldn't find myself getting into the book. It had good facts but it didn't really pull me through the book. I had to make myself read it. Some of that may of been that some parts like Montana's soil crisis confused me. Jared really jumped back and forth between ideals and didn't transition well. I'm a little disappointed. Bottom line: good facts, confusing read.
An interesting theory on how former major civilizations eventually fell apart. A wide range of societies from different eras are looked at.
I'm only around the halfway point, reading, if you can imagine, on an iPhone. First, I will say that I really liked Guns, Germs, and Steel, and this book is just as entertaining and engaging. Jared Diamond does a great job at describing faraway and ancient cultures. However, I've decided to review early because I'm extremely frustrated that there are almost no figures. The few that are present, mainly maps, appear to be poorly scaled jpegs, to the point that the text is fuzzy, almost illegible when zooming in. However, the worst part is when the text refers to images (plates) that are non-existent. For some chapters, like Easter Island, it is a real shame that the images are missing. While I'm a National Geographics buff who already has mental pictures of most of the mentioned societies, other people will be really confused about what's being described. It's ironic that the author/publisher chose to leave the illustration credits without leaving the illustrations! I'm really upset because this is my first ever iBooks (or even ebook) purchase. I assumed this would be just like the paper version, but I was wrong. Now I'm hesitant to buy another ebook before looking at the reviews.
This book really opened my eyes to the ways in which societies - even well-meaning ones - can blind themselves to the necessary changes needed to long-term self-destructive behaviors. A fascinating read. I can see why it has negative reviews; a common reaction to hearing "hey, we're headed down a similar path here" is to get angry and try to ignore it.
Magic Flyin' Lemur