I have a caveat on Diamond: almost everything I've read of his was standard history repackaged as popular history. Guns, Germs, and Steel was essentially a colonial Latin America history survey course, expanded and fleshed out a bit. Nothing revelatory at all. But aggregating for a popular audience is its own particular skill, and he has that in spades (or at least did for his first couple of books, I haven't revisited them since I kenned his schtick - so Collapse is the last one I even thumbed through). I program the university's main symposium on international issues, and we hosted Diamond for our program on Resource Wars in 2006, right when Collapse was at its peak in public discourse. Good news from a programming standpoint: the audience was enthusiastic and SRO as we set the house for 750 people and close to a thousand came. Bad news from a discourse standpoint: he basically walked through Collapse chapter by chapter, not so much reading excerpts (lots of authors do that and then expound) as talking us through the whole damn book. People who hadn't read it loved the talk; people who had were profoundly disappointed.