The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization

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Island Press, Apr 16, 2010 - Political Science - 448 pages
46 Reviews
Environmental disasters. Terrorist wars. Energy scarcity. Economic failure. Is this the world's inevitable fate, a downward spiral that ultimately spells the collapse of societies? Perhaps, says acclaimed author Thomas Homer-Dixon - or perhaps these crises can actually lead to renewal for ourselves and planet earth.

The Upside of Down takes the reader on a mind-stretching tour of societies' management, or mismanagement, of disasters over time. From the demise of ancient Rome to contemporary climate change, this spellbinding book analyzes what happens when multiple crises compound to cause what the author calls "synchronous failure." But, crisis doesn't have to mean total global calamity. Through catagenesis, or creative, bold reform in the wake of breakdown, it is possible to reinvent our future.

Drawing on the worlds of archeology, poetry, politics, science, and economics, The Upside of Down is certain to provoke controversy and stir imaginations across the globe. The author's wide-ranging expertise makes his insights and proposals particularly acute, as people of all nations try to grapple with how we can survive tomorrow's inevitable shocks to our global system. There is no guarantee of success, but there are ways to begin thinking about a better world, and The Upside of Down is the ideal place to start thinking.


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Review: The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization

User Review  - David - Goodreads

Catastrophist debate from the catastrophist, Left-Wing, side of the argument. Clearly argued but deeply partisan. Readers on the Left will enjoy the book but others probably will not. 3 out of 5 stars. Read full review

Review: The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization

User Review  - stinaz - Goodreads

"This Changes Everything" - but by Thomas Homer-Dixon, and nearly 10 years old. A beautiful systems approach to the issues our world and society are facing today, and why it is likely leading to ... Read full review


prologue Firestorm
one Tectonic Stresses
two A Keystone in Time
three We Are like Running Water
four So Long Cheap Slaves
six Flesh of the Land
seven Closing the Windows
eight No Equilibrium
nine Cycles within Cycles
ten Disintegration
eleven Catagenesis
The Last Rock

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About the author (2010)

Thomas Homer-Dixon is Director of the Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto. He is author of the acclaimed books The Ingenuity Gap (Knopf, 2001) and Environment, Scarcity, and Violence (Princeton University Press, 1999).

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