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JUDITH LEWIS (Weekly staff writer and environmental protection agent)

In his Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (Viking), Jared Diamond constructed stories about politics, environment and social survival without inflamed rhetoric or partisanship, and he laid out his argument as cleanly as a math problem: Destroy your forests, squander your water and alienate your neighbors, he warned, and you’ll watch your hard-won world disintegrate around you; manage your resources wisely and run your politics fairly, and you may instead hand down the legacy of survival to your heirs.