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What history can teach us about countries in crisis

Jared Diamond's Upheaval shows how in times of catastrophe nation states—just like individuals—need to rely on their ego-strength to survive

From Pinochet to Trump, a new book by Jared Diamond attempts to draw common lessons for nations in flux. Photo: PA

“How nations cope with crisis and change” is rather a big subject, which suggests something on the scale of Arnold Toynbee’s A Study of History. In Upheaval, Jared Diamond, the great analyst of historical ecological collapses, has produced instead a vivid, interesting but somewhat incoherent set of impressions, drawn from the modern history of countries he knows well.

Like all Diamond’s work, it is meant to be a…

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