“At one or more times in our personal lives, most of us undergo a personal upheaval or crisis, which may or may not get resolved through our making personal changes.”
This historical analysis of “upheaval” comes from Jared Diamond, of Guns, Germs, and Steel. I have to imagine that this book like many of his previous books comes with some controversy and inborn disagreement because of the very nature of his approach. The approach here is to use the concept of “upheaval” which generally means some sort of unfolding crisis in a nation’s history as a turning point either away from or sometimes toward disaster, as well as using this frame to make some assessments of the current world situation.
His framework is based off work in personal crisis psychology, developed a few decades ago, in response to a catastrophic nightclub fire that killed a few hundred people, and whose traumatic influence affected thousands of direct and indirect survivors. In addition, he uses his own personal and professional crises of a failing marriage and academic setback, to add some additional points of reference. The six countries he uses here for his analysis were chosen because of his own personal familiarity with them, having lived in all of them for some significant amount of time and had experience working with them, sometimes during moments of crises. The nations are: Japan, using the Matthew Brady military exploitation in the 1850s and then later at the beginning of WWII, Finland fighting several border wars against Russia, Germany pivoting after WWII, Indonesia at the beginning of the Sukarno regime, Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship, and US looking forward.
It’s a compelling book and as a history, there’s some very interesting fly-by analysis that I find interesting. I don’t know enough to fully engage with most of what’s here except the US portion, and that mostly checks out as far as I am concerned, but like I said, I am limited here. He does a good job presenting the information here in a way to try to stand up for some amount of time into the future, so while 2017 might occasion some elements of the writing, it’s not expressly one that draws heavily from a 2017 moment in any particular way.