Jared Diamond has been called ‘the master storyteller of the human race’. A Pulitzer Prize-winning polymath who speaks 12 languages, his work has drawn on history, geography, economics and anthropology to transform our understanding of how civilisations rise and fall. His landmark global bestseller Guns, Germs and Steel was described by Yuval Noah Harari as ‘the book that turned me from a historian of medieval warfare into a student of humankind’.
Diamond came to the Intelligence Squared stage to mark the publication of his latest book, Upheaval: How Nations Cope with Crisis and Change. He showed how countries as diverse as Japan, Chile, Indonesia and Germany have survived major upheavals in the recent past through a process of self-appraisal and adaptation similar to the ways in which individuals learn to cope with personal trauma. And looking ahead to the future, he voiced his concerns about the potential shift of the United States and other successful countries away from democracy. The lessons of history and the tools of self-knowledge, he will argue, can be applied to any nation at any point to avert catastrophe before it actually strikes.