Diamond is a professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. Some of his notable books are The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee (1991), Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005), and The World until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies (2012). His book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1997) has been translated in thirty-three different languages and garnered sales of millions of copies across the globe. The book shot him to global fame and also fetched him the ‘Pulitzer Prize’ in 1998, apart from other awards.
Diamond is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award; research prizes and grants from the National Geographic Society, American Physiological Society, and Zoological Society of San Diego; and many teaching awards and endowed public lectureships. In addition, he has been elected a member of all three of the leading U.S. national scientific and academic honorary societies—the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He is a founding member of the board of the Society of Conservation Biology and a member of the board of directors of World Wildlife Fund/USA and Conservation International.
“I’ve set myself the modest task of trying to explain the broad pattern of human history, on all the continents, for the last 13,000 years. Why did history take such different evolutionary courses for peoples of different continents? This problem has fascinated me for a long time, but it’s now ripe for a new synthesis because of recent advances in many fields seemingly remote from history, including molecular biology, plant and animal genetics and biogeography, archaeology, and linguistics.”
Diamond’s field experience includes seventeen expeditions to New Guinea and neighboring islands to study ecology and evolution of birds; rediscovery of New Guinea’s long-lost golden-fronted bowerbird; other field projects in North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. As a conservationist he devised a comprehensive plan, almost all of which was subsequently implemented, for Indonesian New Guinea’s national park system; numerous field projects for the Indonesian government and World Wildlife Fund; founding member of the board of the Society of Conservation Biology; member of the Board of Directors of World Wildlife Fund/USA.
“Because we are rapidly advancing along this non-sustainable course, the world’s environmental problems will get resolved, in one way or another, within the lifetimes of the children and young adults alive today The only question is whether they will become resolved in pleasant ways of our own choice, or in unpleasant ways not of our choice, such as warfare, genocide, starvation, disease epidemics, and collapses of societies. While all of those grim phenomena have been endemic to humanity throughout our history, their frequency increases with environmental degradation, population pressure, and the resulting poverty and political instability.”