Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis

Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis

by Jared Diamond
Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis

Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis

by Jared Diamond


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316409148
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 05/12/2020
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 67,372
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.50(d)

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.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Legacies of Cocoanut Grove 3

Two stories

What's a Crisis?

Individual and national Cries

What this book is and isn't

Plan of book

Part 1 Individuals

Chapter 1 Personal Crises 27

A personal crisis


Dealing with Crises

Factors related to outcomes

National crises

Part 2 Natios: Crises that Unfolded

Chapter 2 Finland's War with the Soviet Union 57

Visiting Finland


Finland until 1939

The Winter War

The Winter War's end

The Continuation War

After 1945

Walking a tightrope


Crisis framework

Chapter 3 The Origins of Modern Japan 101

My Japanese connections

Japan before 1853


1853 to 1868

The Meiji Era

Meiji reforms


Overseas expansion

Crisis framework


Chapter 4 A Chile for All Chileans 141

Visiting Chile

Chile until 1070


The coup and Pinochet

Economics until "No!"

After Pinochet

Pinochet's shadow

Crisis framework

Returning to Chile

Chapter 5 Indonesia, the Rise of a Mew Country 179

In a hotel

Indonesia's background

The colonial era




Mass murder


Suharto's legacies

Crisis framework

Returning to Indonesia

Chapter 6 Rebuilding Germany 217

Germans holding judgment-1968-1968's aftermath

Brandt and re-unification

Geographic constraints


Leaders and realism

Crisis framework

Chapter 7 Australia: Who Are We? 255

Visiting Australia

First Fleet and Aborigines

Early immigrants

Towards self-government


Keeping them out

World War One

World War Two

Loosening the ties

The end of White Australia

Crisis framework

Part 3 Nations and the World: Crises Underway

Chapter 8 What Lies Ahead for Japan? 293

Japan today



Government debt



Old and declining


China and Korea

Natural resources management

Crisis framework

9 What Lies Ahead for the United States? Strengths, and the Biggest Problem 325

He U.S. today



Advantages of democracy

Other advantages

Political polarization


Other polarization

Chapter 10 What Lies Ahead for the United States? Three "Other" Problems 357

Other problems


Inequality and immobility

So what?

Investing in the future

Crisis framework

Chapter 11 What Lies Ahead for the World? 383

The world today

Nuclear weapons

Climate change

Fossil fuels

Alternative energy sources

Other natural resources


Crisis framework

Epilogue: Lessons, Questions, an Outlook 423

Predictive factors

Are crises necessary?

Roles of leaders in history

Role of specific leaders

What next?

Lessons for the future

Acknowledgments 464

Illustration Credits 466

Futher Reading 470

Index 485

About the Author 501

What People are Saying About This

Author of The Better Angels of Our Nature and Enlightenment Now - Steven Pinker

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.”

Author of The Zookeeper's Wife - Diane Ackerman

"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."

Author of Jaws: The Story of a Hidden Epidemic - Paul Ehrlich

"Upheaval is a brilliant, gripping, personal account of nations in crisis, informed by how people respond to crisis. It’s an especially timely read today, when nations are stressed and have much to learn about how to survive big challenges. I urge you to read it."

Publisher of Skeptic magazine and author of Heavens on Earth - Michael Shermer

“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.

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