RAS Book Club

Upheaval by Jared Diamond

Convener: Peter Hagan

In his latest book, Jared Diamond compares how six countries have survived recent upheavals – ranging from the forced opening of Japan by US 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 II. Because Diamond has lived and spoken the language in five of these six countries, he can present gut-wrenching histories experienced first-hand. 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 lessons from 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.

Please note: this is a book discussion, not a talk. The author will not be present.

RSVP: bookevents@royalasiaticsociety.org.cn

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