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X-Events: The Collapse of Everything Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 12, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0062088284 ISBN-10: 0062088289 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (June 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062088289
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062088284
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #565,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“I am assiduous reader of John Casti’s books. He is a real scientific intellectual.” (NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB, author of The Black Swan)

“One of America’s greatest pioneers of simulation.” (London Times)

From the Back Cover

An acclaimed theorist offers a provocative and chilling warning: today’s advanced societies have grown overcomplex and highly vulnerable to extreme events that could topple civilization

The modern industrialized world is a complex system on a scale never before witnessed in the history of humankind. Technologically dependent, globally interconnected, it offers seemingly limitless conveniences, choices, and opportunities. Yet this same modern civilization may be as unstable as a house of cards, fear complexity scientists like John Casti. All it would take to "downsize" our way of life—to send us crashing back to the nineteenth century—is a nudge from what Casti calls an "X-event," an unpredictable occurrence with extreme, even dire, consequences. When an X-event strikes—and scientists believe it will—finance, communication, defense, and travel will stop dead in their tracks. The flow of food, electricity, medicine, and clean water will be disrupted for months, if not years. What will you do?

A renowned systems theorist, Casti shows how our world has become impossibly complicated, relying on ever more advanced technology that is developing at an exponential rate. Yet it is a fact of mathematical life that higher and higher levels of complexity lead to systems that are increasingly fragile and susceptible to sudden, spectacular collapse. Fascinating and chilling, X-Events provides a provocative tour of the catastrophic outlier scenarios that could quickly send us crashing back to the preindustrial age: global financial "black swans"; a worldwide crash of the Internet that would halt all communication; the end of oil; nuclear winter; "nanoplagues"; robot uprisings; electromagnetic pulses; pandemic viruses; and more. You won't ever look at the world the same way again.


More About the Author

One of the pioneers of complexity science and systems theory, John L. Casti, Ph.D., is Senior Research Scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, where he heads an initiative on Extreme Events in Human Society. He worked for many years at the Sante Fe Institute and The RAND Corporation, as well as serving on the faculties of Princeton, the University of Arizona, and New York University. A former editor of the journal Complexity, Casti has published nearly 20 volumes of academic and popular science and received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Southern California. He lives in Vienna, Austria.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By bonnie_blu on July 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book is an excellent overview of our very shaky modern world, and it presents complex ideas in an easy to understand way. In fact the author is a complexity scientist with outstanding credentials who clearly shows how the mind-boggling complexity of modern life is leading inexorably to a horrendous international crash - a crash that will make the current Great Recession look like a walk in the park. I recommend this book even though the first 50 pages are a bit redundant. But stick with it, it's well worth your time, and you won't look at the world the same way ever again.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By AJ on July 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
X-Events The Collapse of Everything is an excellent overview of our modern day house of cards. The book is an illustrative, not exhaustive, examination of the myriad ways our modern society is dependent on complex and fragile technologies. You won't find a "how to survive the End of the World As we Know It" manual here (there are plenty of those here on Amazon), or any discussion of solar events, Mayan prophecies, or any other tin-hat predictions. This is an interesting look at various MAN MADE scenarios, and how those complex systems can fail. Buy the book, then figure out how to "hope for the best, but plan for the worst" based on your own situation.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jamie on June 16, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I don't have any issue with specific X events the author raises. If you are looking for a good book of potential Black Swan type events on the horizon, this is a good overview. It's well written, full of interesting anecdotes and stories to illustrate his points.

However, it's just that, an overview. The author doesn't offer any great insights or suggestions on how to mitigate their effects. It almost feels like a long stitched together set of newspaper article summaries, grouped by topics.

If you are looking for a simple summary, this is for you. If your are looking for some original thought or insights, keep looking.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Camilo on August 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was my introduction to looking at phenomena from a systemic point of view. It's introductory-level, but delves with important concepts. It's actually optimistic about the future, and the optimism sticks.
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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful By david c hosler on June 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As a social scientist Casti presents the evidence for trends. The conclusions are for you to make. A great research book doesn't insist on leading us, it arms us with facts to do so ourselves.
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