I listened to the abridged audio version of this book. Some of the discs were damaged, and I have no idea what I missed, so I won't rate the book. I wanted to listen to the full-length audio version, but I can't stand that reader's style. You'd have to put a firecracker up his nose to get him to put any inflection in his voice. (Don't forget to light the firecracker. An unlit one would just make him sound even more nasally challenged.)A lot of what was in this book I already knew from my degree program at university. So the things that were new to me were of course the most interesting. I never would have guessed that Easter Island was once covered with giant coconut palms that are now extinct. The section about Greenland was also new to me, and so telling about prejudices. The Nordic people did not survive there because they were too superior to learn from the Inuit, who continue to thrive. Before delving into the book, I wondered about the use of the word "choose" in the title. Now I understand how that is true. Societies have often "chosen" to succeed or fail depending on whether they use a top-down or bottom-up form of government and resource management.