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Bottleneck: Humanity's Impending Impasse Hardcover – May 6, 2009
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About the Author
More About the Author
Immediately after high school, Catton studied chemistry at Central Michigan College before serving aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier during the Second World War, and was wounded when his ship was disabled by a Kamikase attack. After the war he received his bachelor's degree in history in 1950 from Oberlin College. He is married to an Oberlin classmate. He studied creative writing at the University of New Hampshire, and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Washington.
He was co-author of an introductory sociology textbook, and author of From Animistic to Naturalistic Sociology, published in 1966. It was a sociological research interest in wildland recreation patterns that led to his later study of ecological concepts and principles.
He was elected Vice President of the Sociological Association of Australia and New Zealand, and president of the Pacific Sociological Association. The PSA gave him its 1985 Distinguished Scholarship Award for articles in its journal expanding on themes from his 1980 book, Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change. His other publications include more than a hundred journal articles (including most recently "Understanding Humanity's Damaged Future," Sociological Inquiry, vol. 79, November 2009: 509-522) and various contributed book chapters, plus several dozen book reviews.
Since retiring from WSU he has continued writing on ecological issues and has been studying the societal functions and dysfunctions of modern division of labor, leading to his latest book: Bottleneck: Humanity's Impending Impasse, published in 2009.
Top Customer Reviews
In the immortal words of Tonio K. [...]
Bottleneck distills 30 years of Catton's efforts to better understand why Americans (and others) have not acted on knowledge whose application could have softened the impact of our overshooting Earth's carrying capacity. The book analyzes with fresh insights the interplay of labor specialization, money, and language in the modern era, revealing how we have arrived almost inevitably at "humanity's impending impasse" (the book's subtitle). I cannot adequately summarize that analysis here, but please know that it exposes unsustainable structural features in our behaviors and institutions too deep to be altered by our current systems of social organization and governance.
Even after continued drawdown forces humankind through our 21st century ecological bottleneck, there's no guarantee that survivors can or will avoid repeating our mistakes. That's a major reason why Catton spent years researching and writing this book. I can imagine that as he forswore an easy retirement, dedicating his energies to this project, he may have tacked to his office wall for inspiration Diderot's remark from the foreword to the 1765 edition of the French Encyclopedia: "Suppose that a revolution, whose seeds have sprouted in some remote region of the earth or may be germinating in the very center of a civilized country, should burst forth, destroy the cities, scatter the nations, and bring back ignorance and darkness. All will not be lost if a single complete edition of this work survives.Read more ›
This book 'Bottleneck' rambles, digresses on everything from baseball minutea, a detailed history of 20th century sociology and sociologists, to children's fables and his family life. Most of us are too pressed for time to filter the useful information in this book from the extensive irrelevant digressions. Much of this, quite frankly, is probably due to the writer's advanced age at the time that this book was written, and poor editing. It is a catch-all college professor's memoirs jumbled around a serious subject.
Everything in 'Bottleneck' that is useful is a rehash of what the writer gave us in 'Overshoot'. Your time and money are much better spent pursuing that work. 'Overshoot' should be re-released under the title 'Bottleneck' and this effort should be scrapped.
And yes, I have read both books.
My hat is off to this writer. He has left behind a great work. But this book is not it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Groundbreaking and mandatory reading for any budding environmentalist, which should include all of us at this tipping point!Published 2 months ago by g miklashek
Bottleneck offers a wide-lens assessment of social and environmental concerns at the opening of the 21st century by renowned sociologist William Catton. Read morePublished 9 months ago by JDS_West