The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future, the Earth’s Autobiography

The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future is a short novel written from the perspective of a Chinese historian who is looking back on our current time from several centuries in the future. Throughout the book, the historian is describing the foolishness of our behavior (in what is our present day) in regards to everything from carbon dioxide levels to the economic state of all the countries that helped lead to the downfall of the world. This book has a lot of interesting qualities to it. First of all, it’s not every day that you read a book written from the viewpoint of the future. I think this adds an ominous tone to the novella because it is written as a warning that we as the readers should heed rather than a normal fictional book. The fact that this book is written fictionally is another quality that makes The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future very interesting. The authors of the book, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway (who are actually scientists) admitted in their interview that writing in fiction was easier because then it wouldn’t require copious amounts of research seeing as they’re making things up (within reason…meaning all of the things they talk about could very well happen).

Overall, I did like the book. I thought while it was informative, it was also short and to the point, with the actually story being no more than fifty pages. However, I was extremely confused with some of the terminology Oreskes and Conway were using. The glossary in the back helped, but I was a little annoyed with that seeing as every time I didn’t know a word I had to flip through however many pages and then I’d lose my spot and it was all a big mess. I definitely would’ve enjoyed the book more had they used more simplistic terms because I am not a scientist nor am I good at science and I always felt at least a little bit lost while reading the book.

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