www . compassionatespirit . com



About Keith Akers
Books, etc.
What's New

The Collapse of Civilization, Part 4:

Five More Good Books
on the Collapse of Civilization!

Just in the last year there has been an explosion of books and interest relevant to the subject of the collapse of civilization, focusing mostly (but not exclusively) on "peak oil" and energy concerns.  So click on these links to get reviews of the following books:

The Empty Tank: Oil, Gas, Hot Air, and The Coming Global Financial Catastrophe. Jeremy Leggett. New York: Random House, 2005.  239 pages.


The Collapsing Bubble: Growth and Fossil EnergyLindsey Grant.  Santa Ana: Seven Locks Press, 2005.  74 pages.


A Short History of Progress.  Ronald Wright.  New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2005.



The End of Fossil Energy and the Last Chance for Sustainability. John G. Howe. Wateford, Maine: McIntire Publishing Services, 2005 (second printing). 


High Noon For Natural Gas: The New Energy Crisis. Julian Darley. Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2004. 



The situation is very serious, but I am being a bit tongue in cheek when I talk about the collapse of civilization. For civilization itself to collapse, I think we would have to revert to a state of humanity which was prior to the invention of writing and settled cities. The most plausible scenarios for this would be some sort of nuclear war, a universal or nearly-universal and deadly disease, or some other similar catastrophe.  Of course we should worry about these scenarios, but avoiding them does not seem to require fundamental changes in everyday life.

By contrast, the collapse of this civilization is considerably more problematic, and probably does require a fundamental change to everyday life.  And that’s what these five new books are concerned with. All of them were published this year (in 2005) except for Darley’s book published in 2004. I recommend all of them, though each has different strengths. 

However, don’t treat this series as an exhaustive bibliography just yet — the most significant omission at this point would be that of Richard Heinberg’s two books, The Party’s Over and Powerdown. The Party’s Over is now commonly cited as a "classic" book (and it’s not that old) — it was one of the first to clearly explain the problem of "peak oil" to a general audience. I hope to go back and re-read these two books and report separately on them at some time in the future, but for now I will just say that Heinberg’s books are also important and essential for any student of "peak oil" or the future (if any) of our civilization.

Keith Akers
December 22, 2005

Part 1: Collapse -- Coming Soon to a Civilization Near You!
A review of books by Jared Diamond, J. R. McNeill, and Joseph Tainter, on the collapse of civilizations and the current state of our own.

Part 2: Reviews of Better Off and The Long Emergency
Reviews of two books by James Kunstler and Eric Brende which offer alternative visions of possible futures.

Part 3: Is Peak Oil Here?, reviews of books by Ken Deffeys and Matt Simmons on peak oil.

Part 4: Five More Good Books on the Collapse of Civilization!  Reviews of books by Jeremy Legget, Lindsey Grant, Ronald Wright, John Howe, and Julian Darley. 

Part 5: Decline and Fall, a review of Are We Rome?

Part 6: Peak Oil at the Movies, a review of A Crude Awakening, Crude Impact, and What a Way to Go