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Society’s Ability to Weather Crisis Largely Depends on Leaders’ Positions

Nations with leaders who are keenly affected by their own decisions may weather crises better than those whose leaders are further removed, according to author Jared Diamond. Diamond discusses his new book "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed" with NewsHour Business correspondent Paul Solman.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Finally tonight, at the end of this big week in Washington, some historical perspective on the financial crisis.

    Congress appears poised to pass the giant stimulus bill later tonight. Earlier this week, the Obama administration rolled out its big financial rescue plan that may cost more than $1 trillion.

    Our economics correspondent Paul Solman sat down with a well-known writer who studies how nations respond to crises.

  • JARED DIAMOND, Author:

    I've wondered a lot, when I look at past societies confronted with crises, why do some of these societies come out of a crisis stronger? And why do other societies tear themselves apart and collapse?

  • PAUL SOLMAN, NewsHour Economics Correspondent:

    UCLA geographer Jared Diamond, author of an economic crisis book for the ages, "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed."

  • NARRATOR:

    One of the most original thinkers of our age, Diamond has traveled the world looking for clues.

  • PAUL SOLMAN:

    He also wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winner "Guns, Germs and Steel," made into a National Geographic documentary for PBS.

  • JARED DIAMOND:

    My years in New Guinea have convinced me that people around the world are fundamentally similar.