The Depressing Booklist: War, Extinction, Pollution, Resource depletion, Limits to growth, Overpopulation, Collapse, Infrastructure, Peak minerals, Transportation, Postcarbon life

Preface. My favorite book in high school was Gibbs “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”. I never imagined I’d live long enough to see my own civilization collapse. After all, we were taught in school that America was the greatest country that had ever existed or would ever exist. I was sure our nation would last for thousands of years as it got better and better, with flying cars, space travel, and unimaginable inventions to come. But alas, our civilization is powered with finite fossil fuels. Ah well, the good news is that peak oil happened in 2018, and will soon decline at an exponentially growing rate of 6%, preventing a hothouse earth. Climate change will bedevil us for hundreds of years, but it was the wrong future to prepare for. Energy efficiency, organic agriculture, and family planning for energy decline would have saved more lives and used our remaining resources and time much better, as well as reduced greenhouse gases.

More booklists

Alice Friedemann  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer, Barriers to Making Algal Biofuels, and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Collapse Chronicles, Derrick Jensen, Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report



  • S. A. LeBlanc. Constant Battles: The Myth of the Peaceful, Noble Savage. 2003
  • J. Weatherford. Genghis Kahn and the Making of the Modern World
  • J. Weatherford. Secret History of the Mongol Queens
  • Lutz Kleveman, The New Great Game:  Blood and Oil in Central Asia. 2003
  • Michael Klare. Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict. 2001
  • Chalmers Johnson. 2004. The Sorrows Of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic.  
  • J. Matloff. No friends but the mountains: Dispatches from the world’s violent highlands
  • Margaret MacMillan. War: How conflict Shaped Us. 2020
  • P. Coffee. American arsenal. A century of waging war.
  • Robert Baer. 2004. Sleeping With the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude.
  • Ahmed Rashid. 2000. Taliban. Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia.
  • Peter Turchin. War and Peace and War. The Life Cycles of Imperial Nations. 2007
  • David Berreby. Us and Them. Understanding Your Tribal Mind. 2005
  • Azar Gat. War in Human Civilization. 2008
  • Lawrence Keeley. War before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage. 1997
  • James Waller.  Becoming Evil. How ordinary people commit genocide and mass killing. 2007
  • Philip Gourevitch. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda. 1999
  • Daniel Goldhagen. Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans & the Holocaust. 1997
  • Wrangham & Peterson. Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence. 1997
  • Michael Ghiglieri. 2000.The Dark Side of Man: Tracing the Origins of Male Violence
  • Richard Rhodes. 2000. Why They Kill: The Discoveries of a Maverick Criminologist.  
  • Giles MacDonogh. After the Reich.  The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation.
  • C. Andrew. Secret world: A history of intelligence.  980 pages
  • M. Matthews. Head strong: how psychology is revolutionizing war

Cyber War

  • Richard Clarke.2012.  Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security 
  • Joel Brenner. 2011. America the Vulnerable: Inside the New Threat Matrix 

What it’s like to be a soldier            

  • Guy Sajer. The Forgotten Soldier      
  • David Finkel. The Good Soldiers      
  • Peter Goldman. Charlie Company: What Vietnam Did to Us          



  • T. Colborn. 1997. Our Stolen Future: Are we threatening our fertility, survival?
  • John McCormick. 1997. Acid Earth: The Global Threat of Acid Pollution.
  • J. Watts. 2010.            When a Billion Chinese Jump: how china will save mankind–Or Destroy It 
  • J. Shapiro. 2001. Mao’s War against Nature: Politics and the Environment in Revolutionary China
  • Thomas Hayden. Trashing the Oceans          
  • W.Rathje. 2001. Rubbish! The Archaeology of Garbage. What our garbage tells us about ourselves
  • Dan Fagin. 1999. Toxic Deception: How the Chemical Industry manipulates science, bends the law, and endangers your health
  • Thomas Hayden. 2002. Trashing the Oceans An armada of plastic rides the waves, & sea creatures are suffering                       

Resource depletion

  • L. F. Konikow. 2013. Groundwater depletion in the United States (1900-2008)
  • Sandra Postel. 1999. Pillar of Sand, Can the Irrigation Miracle Last?  
  • R. Glennon. 2004. Water Follies: groundwater pumping & the date of America’s fresh waters                     
  • John Opie. 2000. Ogallala: Water for a Dry Land     
  • Bruce Franklin. 2008. The Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden and America          
  • M. Harris. 1998. Lament For An Ocean: The Collapse of the Atlantic Cod Fishery
  • Richard Ellis. 2003. The Empty Ocean: Plundering the World’s Marine Life          
  • N. Middleton. 1997.  World Atlas of Desertification
  • Rick Weiss. 2003. Ocean species depleted by fishing: Worldwide numbers down 90 percent since the 1950s  May 15, 2003 Washington.Post         
  • Tim Radford. 2005. Two-thirds of world’s resources ‘used up’
  • Chris Bright. 1998. Life out of Bounds: BioInvasion in a Borderless World

Limits to Growth

  • Donella Meadows. 2004. The Limits to Growth: The 30 year update      
  • Vaclav Smil. 2000. Enriching the Earth: Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch, and the Transformation of World Food Production.
  • K. Gever. 1991. Beyond Oil: The Threat to Food and Fuel in the Coming Decades           
  • D. & M. Fisher. 2001. The Nitrogen Bomb.  Discover magazine      
  • William Catton. 192. Overshoot        
  • M. Wackernagel. 1995. Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth
  • Laurie Garrett. 1995.  The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance.  
  • Hopfenberg . 2001. Human population numbers as a function of food supply



Collapse, Russia                   

Collapse, North Korea      

Collapse, Cuba

Collapse, Roman Empire


Peak Minerals

  • Ugo Bardi. Extracted. How the quest for mineral wealth is plundering the planet
  • V. Beiser. The world in a grain: the story of sand and how it transformed civilization
  • J. Waldman. Rust: the longest war
  • K. Veronese. Rare: the high-stakes race to satisfy our need for the scarcest metals on earth
  • M. Sheller. Aluminum dreams. The making of light modernity


Postcarbon life     

  • S. Vogel. 2003. Prime Mover: A Natural History of Muscle
  • T. Thwaites. 2012. The toaster project: Build a simple electric appliance from scratch
  • J. Stratton.  1981. Pioneer Women: Voices from the Kansas Frontier          
  • Greene. 2008. Horses at Work: Harnessing Power in Industrial America
  • R. Winston. Life in the Middle Ages.
  • Jean Gimpel.   1977. Medieval Machine: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages.   
  • George Huppert.  1998. After the Black Death: A Social History of Early Modern Europe 
  • E. A. Wrigley. Energy and the English industrial revolution.
  • E. A. Wrigley. The path to sustained growth: England’s transition from an organic economy to an industrial society
  • R. White. 1993. It’s your misfortune and none of my own. A new history of the American West.  
  • S. Ambrose. 1997. Undaunted Courage.  Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the opening of the American West          
  • R. Massie. 1996. Peter the Great: His Life and World          
  • B. Tuchman. 1979. Distant Mirror: The calamitous fourteenth century. 
  • M. Holloway. 1966.    Utopian Communities in America, 1680-1880          
  • Robert Hine. 1983. California’s Utopian Colonies    
  • D. E. Pitzer. 1997. America’s Communal Utopias     
  • H. Norberg-Hodge. 1992. Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh 
  • R. Ekirch. At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past
  • D. Cordingly. Under the Black Flag. The Romance & the reality of life among the Pirates
This entry was posted in Book List and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.