Upheaval Book Summary - Upheaval Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Upheaval summary

Jared Diamond

Turning Points for Nations in Crisis

4.3 (356 ratings)
36 mins

What is Upheaval about?

Upheaval (2019) takes us through some of modern history’s biggest national crises to find out how each nation ended up in such trouble, and how they managed to get out of it. Looking at seven different nations, author Jared Diamond reveals how some of the same problems and solutions have emerged time and again, whether we’re looking at Chile and Indonesia in the 1970s, or Australia and Germany after WWII.

Table of Contents

    summarized in 12 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 12

    Both personal and national crises require selective changes, and the examination of 12 factors to find solutions.

    Once you reach a certain age, you’re all but guaranteed to have faced a personal crisis or two. Most people experience crises when the circumstances of life challenge them, like during the major life transitions of adolescence, mid-life, retirement and old age.

    Crises can be sudden, such as a relationship coming to a painful and abrupt end, or the onset of a serious illness. Or it can develop gradually, which is what often happens when a person continually refuses to change their behavior to correspond with a changing environment. In either case, a crisis is generally a sign that your current approach to life isn’t working as well as it could be, and needs to be changed.

    And this isn’t just true for us individuals – it also goes for countries as a whole. Consider the statistic that suggests US cities will face a technological crisis every 12 years, as the systems and infrastructure keeping the city running become obsolete.

    But whether a crisis is gradual or immediate, personal or national, the author has identified 12 factors that often contribute to finding a solution:

    1. Acknowledging the crisis itself. After all, you can’t fix a problem if you continue to deny that it exists.
    2. Accepting responsibility to respond to crisis.
    3. Distinguishing the things that need to change from those that are so important to your identity that they shouldn’t be interfered with. This process is called selective change.
    4. Getting assistance from outside sources.
    5. Learning about the methods others have used to respond to similar crises.
    6. Recognizing a personal or national identity.
    7. Undertaking an honest self-appraisal.
    8. Recognizing and learning from how you’ve handled past crises.
    9. Showing patience in coping with failure.
    10. Showing flexibility.
    11. Identifying your core values.
    12. Determining the constraints on your ability to enact selective change.

    In the blinks that follow, we’ll see how these factors were relevant in the history of seven nations: Finland, Japan, Chile, Indonesia, Germany, Australia and the US. Let’s start with Finland as many of these factors came into play in order for its crisis to be resolved.

    Want to see all full key ideas from Upheaval?

    Key ideas in Upheaval

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    About the Author

    Jared Diamond is an award-winning author and professor of geography at UCLA, whose influential research in the fields of ecology, history, biology and anthropology has been highly regarded by his peers. His work has earned him awards such as the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, while his previous book, Guns, Germs and Steel (1997) earned him the Pulitzer Prize.

    Who should read Upheaval?

    • History buffs
    • Students of political science
    • Globally minded individuals interested in world affairs

    Categories with Upheaval

    Books like Upheaval

    People ❤️ Blinkist
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked

    Start growing with Blinkist now
    26 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    Of Blinkist members create a better reading habit*
    *Based on survey data from Blinkist customers
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 5,500+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial