cover image The Next Apocalypse: The Art and Science of Survival

The Next Apocalypse: The Art and Science of Survival

Chris Begley. Basic, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5416-7528-5

Archaeologist and survivalist Begley debuts with an insightful look at the history of natural and man-made disasters and how people have survived them. Seeking guidance for dealing with climate change, pandemics, and other future threats, Begley examines how ancient Romans, Mayans, and Indigenous tribes in North America responded to catastrophes. In many cases, Begley notes, cataclysmic events caused a shift from urban to rural settings, and societies with “greater flexibility and adaptability in the scale and location of centralized leadership” were better equipped for survival than more rigid civilizations. He investigates the potential causes, including “drought, deforestation, warfare, and the increasing cost of maintaining the elites,” that caused a decline in Mayan civilization in the ninth century, and describes how Indigenous people in North America formed “multi-tribal villages” to survive the onslaught of European settlers and their diseases in the 17th and 18th centuries. Begley stresses the need to adapt to changing circumstances and the loss of familiar comforts, and the importance of “the ability to recognize competence and the ability to evaluate data and information.” Extensively researched and evenhanded, this is a valuable resource for preparing for the next crisis. (Nov.)