"While the theoretical part of the book is quite remarkable and based on exceptional erudition, I also found the accumulation of the supporting data to be interesting reading . . . The merit of the book is that it is interesting. It modifies some of our views about early states and their collapse mainly by using data. It also shows how archaeology in alliance with social sciences opens the way for a comparative analysis of change in political and other cultural institutions." European Cultural Heritage
"Tainter's is an attractive and compelling thesis of a genre which is nearly extinct among domestic historians." History Today
"This is a lucid and stimulating book. Tainter does provide a framework for organizing and evaluating the evidence of collapse. One of the strengths of his framework is the broadness of its terms of reference...Tainter's model accomodates all levels of complexity and all kinds of evidence, from fiscal policy to the acquisition of raw materials. It deserves to be widely read." Antiquity
"Tainter has provided copious grist for the intellectual mill in this remarkable piece of scholarship. The breadth of its coverage is given order by a model that qualifies, I believe, as one of the covering laws archaeologists have sought. In addition, Old World and New World scholars alike can profit from a reading of this book." P. Nick Kardulias, American Journal of Archaeology
"The Collapse of Complex Societies contains much useful historical and archeological information on empires that have abruptly disappeared." James B. Rule, SUNY, Stony Brook, in Population and Environment
"The book is thought-provoking, engaging, and often witty, and well illustrates the relevancy of classical antiquity to contemporary concerns." Classical World
Twenty-four examples of societal collapse help develop a new theory to account for their breakdown. Detailed studies of the Roman, Mayan and Cacoan collapses clarify the processes of disintegration.