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In his latest work, Diamond chose seven countries that have had major crises within the last 150 years and examines how they’ve dealt with those crises. He then extrapolates from how those countries have evolved since to examine the state of the world today and to project how our future might unfold. Diamond has tackled several broad, complex, and sensitive topics here with the same intelligent and accessible writing that has made his earlier book, Guns, Germs, and Steel, an enduring classic. Part history lesson, part editorial, and part science lecture, I found this to be a truly fascinating read that should become required reading.
Putting down Upheaval—all 512 pages of it—I was ready to open it back up to Page 1.
Diamond picks up where the high school history books leave off. Through pertinent comparisons of sudden disruption and how nations respond to adversity, Upheaval narrates intertwining histories of six nations in crisis: Japan, Finland, Chile, Indonesia, Germany, and Australia.
Does history really repeat itself?
Did Pinochet’s political action during the Chilean coup d’état set a precedent for revolution in Chile?
How did Japan’s entry into the international limelight force reconstructions in Japan’s national identity?
Why did it take until the 20th century before Australia's final status as a British colony was overturned? Upheaval, especially in the wake of Diamond’s other distinguished works like Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse, did not disappoint. It is a “must read” for passionate bookworms interested in history and politics.
A "riveting and illuminating" Bill Gates Summer Reading pick about how and why some nations recover from trauma and others don't (Yuval Noah Harari), by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the landmark bestseller Guns, Germs, and Steel.
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 yet.
About the Author
Jared Diamond, a noted polymath, is Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. Among his many awards are the U.S. National Medal of Science, Japan's Cosmos Prize, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, a Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, and election to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. He is the author of the international best-selling books Guns, Germs, and Steel, Collapse, Why Is Sex Fun?, The World until Yesterday, and The Third Chimpanzee, and is the presenter of TV documentary series based on three of those books.
"I'm a big fan of everything Jared Diamond has written, and his latest is no exception. He shows that there's a path through crisis, and that we can choose to take it."
"Jared Diamond does it again: another rich, original, and fascinating chapter in the human saga, this one on how societies have extricated themselves from wicked crises-with vital lessons for our difficult times."
—Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of The Better Angel
"A riveting and illuminating tour of how nations deal with crises -- which might hopefully help humanity as a whole deal with our present global crisis."
—Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
"A new book by Jared Diamond is always a rare and welcome gift. I read them all as part of a single mosaic that, could it ever be fully completed, would finally reveal us to ourselves with haunting insight and clarity, as well as the planet we have the privilege to inhabit. Each book adds more interlocking pieces to that fascinating mosaic. In Upheaval, I find eye-opening lessons about the political and psychological forces that lead to crisis and then resilience, how individuals and nations experience trauma in similar ways, and what that suggests about our future and the world's. Fortunately for us, Diamond's remarkable gift for learning languages has allowed him to live under the surface of various cultures throughout his life, traveling extensively, both mentally and physically, while witnessing many dramatic personal and national upheavals firsthand. His ability to weigh them all with a compassionate heart, a keen eye and an eloquent pen have made him the masterful observer of the human pageant and the important man of conscience that he is. I'm deeply grateful for this wise and beautiful book."
—Diane Ackerman, author of The Zookeeper's Wife
"Jared Diamond is one of the deepest thinkers and most authoritative writers of our time -- arguably of all time -- and Upheaval proves his prescience in analyzing historical crises within nations at a time when national crises have erupted around the world. It is also his most personal work, sharing with readers his own crises, along with his intimate familiarity with many countries that have experienced upheavals, and then drawing out lessons of crisis management for nations today and in the future. No scientist has ever won the Nobel Prize for literature. Jared Diamond should be the first."
—Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine and author of Heavens on Earth
"The virtues of Diamond's storytelling shine through....let this experienced observer with an uncanny eye for the small details that reveal larger truths take you on an expedition around the world and through fascinating pivotal moments in seven countries."
—Moisés Naím, The Washington Post
"I read Upheaval with appreciation for its historical sweep... If the world is going to hell in a handbasket, Diamond has not given up hope that we can change course."—Richard Rhodes, Nature