Jared Diamond was born in Boston to a physician father and a teacher/musician/linguist mother. After training in laboratory biological science he became Professor of Physiology at UCLA Medical School in 1966. However, already while in his twenties, he also developed a second parallel career in the ecology and evolution of New Guinea birds. That led him to explore some of the most remote parts of that great tropical island, and to rediscover New Guinea’s long-lost Golden-fronted Bowerbird. In his fifties he gradually developed a third career in environmental history, becoming Professor of Geography and of Environmental Health Sciences at UCLA.
As well as being renowned in academic circles, Jared Diamond is famous for his prize-winning books The Third Chimpanzee and Why is Sex Fun?, and for revolutionizing the study of global human history with Guns, Germs and Steel. His awards include a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (a ‘genius award’), and the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction. The broad range of disciplines that he weaves into his writing – linguistics, genetics, animal behaviour, molecular biology and others – caused a reviewer to write, ‘ “Jared Diamond” is suspected of actually being the pseudonym for a committee of experts.’ In his spare time he watches birds and learns languages (he is currently learning his twelfth). He is the father of seventeen-year-old twin sons who have informed much of his outlook on life. His latest book is Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive (Penguin, 2006).