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Publisher's Summary

A brilliant new theory of how and why some nations recover from trauma and others don't, by the author of the landmark best sellers Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse

In his earlier best sellers Guns, Germs and Steel and Collapse, Jared Diamond transformed our understanding of what makes civilizations rise and fall. Now, in the final audiobook in this monumental trilogy, he reveals how successful nations recover from crisis through selective change - a coping mechanism more commonly associated with personal trauma. 

In a dazzling comparative study, Diamond shows us how seven countries have survived defining upheavals in the recent past - from US Commodore Perry's arrival in Japan to the Soviet invasion of Finland to Pinochet's regime in Chile - through a process of painful self-appraisal and adaptation, and he identifies patterns in the way that these distinct nations recovered from calamity. Looking ahead to the future, he investigates whether the US and the world are squandering their natural advantages on a path toward political conflict and decline. Or can we still learn from the lessons of the past? 

Adding a psychological dimension to the awe-inspiring grasp of history, geography, economics, and anthropology that marks all Diamond's work, Upheaval reveals how both nations and individuals can become more resilient. The result is an audiobook that is epic, urgent, and groundbreaking.

©2019 Jared Diamond (P)2019 Recorded Books

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  • Marian
  • 2019-05-12

The Urine of the Earth in a Teacup

Please read this book!

I remember hearing the term, “Historical Theory” as an undergraduate in the 1980’s, and I wondered how a “factual” subject like history could possibly have a theoretical component. Over time, I learned that our operating theories, our perspectives, our frames, our expectations, and our programming matter more to every human activity than the facts. Facts are important, but authors pick facts selectively, choose words purposefully, and express findings based on internalized models. Every academic discipline has a theory. Every human has an operating system, an internal theory, too.

Here you have metatheory, theory, and eggs of theory essential to human discourse. Jared Diamond is a polymath; he communicates the emotional fight or flight syndrome of the tortured whale swimming in the ocean of human fireworks while his heart beats on the drum of experimental thinking in the manner of Jonas Salk; he links together his conversations with the prejudiced German or Australian with the nose to smell our common survival fears; his touch is not just the handshake of the Lebanese bird watcher, but also that of the economist seated near the tinderbox anger of modern serfs sick of “rags to riches” myths. He tasted the urine of earth, found it sugary, and gives us his best treatment theories in a world still to invent insulin.

Is it dull? Not at all. I did not want to miss a single word. Is it important or relevant, this history book? Absolutely. Diamond’s inner political scientist and inner psychologist informs us of our warts and beauty marks here in the United States within the context of selected global comparisons and contrast. Our leaders, entrepreneurs, monied classes, and citizens must open their hearts, brains, and stomachs to the warnings and potentials provided by Diamond. I want more, Professor. Please continue! Diamond’s discussions of the warts and beauty marks of other countries, such as modern Japan, should be “Eureka” moments for other countries, too. We have only one planet, and, as Diamond points out, we cannot look to the galaxy of other known Earths for ideas.

Diamond’s style is intuitive; almost each time I thought, “but what about xyz?” he soon addressed my concern as if he had anticipated my question. This book is easy to follow, but it is not overly simplistic. Is this a book any academic with access to a research library could write? Not a chance. Personal experiences and ponderings across decades inform the results. Is the book contrary to academic research? Very few passages seem to cross the line of unsubstantiated opinion or Diamond’s personal bias. Is it a book of solutions? No. It is a book that gifts verbal concepts to test. It is a book that highlights both incremental change and paradigm shift. It is a book about the medicine of sustainability and the “chronic, incurable, hard to cure diseases” of the political man. It is a book about crimes, failures, lessons, guilts, lack of introspection, mistakes, successes, social responsibilities, democracies, stratifications, social liberalisms, sacrifices, survivals, threats, random chances, plans, and our daily bread. Is your urine sugary? We fix the Earth’s diabetes one operating system at a time.

I enjoyed this reading on Audible, but I felt disadvantaged because Audible does not provide access to the charts and tables referenced by Diamond. I will complain to Audible about the need for a pdf companion. If that fails, I will consider buying a companion Kindle version of this book; it is important and essential information. I do not mind investing in two versions of this Diamond book.

I repeat: Please read this book, and let’s make the future better.

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim B
  • 2019-05-17

Terrible narration, buying it in paper instead

I have never had trouble reading Jared Diamond 's books. This one, has put me to sleep several times already. The narrator is incredibly boring and monotone. Terrible,that Diamond's excellent material gets distorted like this.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • henry mayo
  • 2019-05-14

No editor in sight.

After three hours I gave up on expecting any of the ideas that popped into his head to converge into anything coherent. He wanders from his failure at marriage to the joys of speaking Finnish with no regard for any actual narrative thread.

There is no grand 'theory' at work here. This book is nothing like his earlier works.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-05-23

Well Done! Thought provoking read, don't miss!

Another masterful work by Jared Diamond, makes me think about world problems in a different light.

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  • True Freedom
  • 2019-05-21

Subjective

Fair work. But when you undertake to label Finland as only a 'co-belligerent' with Nazi Germany, you should avoid, later in the same chapter, describing how betrayed your Finnish friend felt when 'their allies' destroyed property and turned on them. You make no secret of your love for Finland, which makes the contradiction stand out.

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  • Wang Chen
  • United States
  • 2019-05-17

If time poor, skip this book. Nothing extraordinary.

All conventional conclusions without factoring in new development in technology and innovation and their impact on issues such as war and immigration.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful